Recession in ‘02/03 and ‘09 –What does it mean to a Graduate Student?
After I wrote “Graduate Students in US: How to survive Recession?” and “Life of International Students and H1B Visa Holders during US Economic Recession” I used to get a lot of emails and questions in the comment section of my blog about lot of stuff related to graduate schools. Most questions relate to, if this is the right time to come to US for graduate studies and things of that sort. Here is one such comment from one of my posts.
“i hv applied for fall 2009 and as of now i hv 4 admits...SDSU,CSU,NJIT,UIC...lookin at all these issues like H1b's, recession, no jobs...its really very scary to take a decision...
i desperately want to do MS....i never thought of neother options at all...very determined towards it...but i feelin sick now...i am very afraid to take a decision...pls can neone tell me is it worth and safe goin now...i.e. fall 2009...
This post is an attempt to answer the above questions and more. When I came here for my Masters in 2001, the economy was already slowing down and it went to a recession soon after 9/11. People were loosing jobs and new jobs were hard to find but things were never as bad as it is today. Another good thing about the recession in 2001 was that universities were not affected that much. Yes there were budget cuts but never of this magnitude.
Now let us try to answer the question – Is it right time to come to US for higher studies? First let me explain three possible scenarios where a student can come to US for higher studies from
Now the second case – a mild recession like that happened in 2002. If 10 students were to come during that time, five may get assistantship, four of them may get hourly jobs and one may not get a job at all for at least the first year. Now those unlucky five have to find money to pay the fees.
Now the third case – a severe recession as it is happening now. If 10 students are coming one may get assistantship, four may get hourly jobs and remaining 5 may not even get an hourly job. Life will be tough for those nine guys.
So to answer the question is it the right time to come to US for higher studies – it totally depends on your luck and timing. You can come here and if you are lucky you can be the one person who is getting the assistantship even during the peak of recession. I believe once you join a university in US, more than your talent getting an assistantship depends on luck. You should be “lucky” enough to find a professor at the right “time” that has some funds to support you and more important you should be really “lucky” for the professor to offer you the job as he has lot of students to choose from now.
There are certain things that have changed in recent times that make the life tough for graduate students. You should consider this before you decide to join the
This scenario has completely changed. Today, with the credit crisis in US no credit card company will be issuing a credit card to a student who has no credit history at all. Now if you are coming as a student to do higher studies you can forget the option of paying with credit cards. Even if you get one the credit line won’t be high enough to pay your semester fees. So what does that mean? If you don’t have assistantship you have to get the entire money from
Another major difference between 2002 and now – If you had graduated during 2002 and could not find a job you have one full year in OPT to find a job. Once you get a job you could apply for H1B visa any time of the year. Now that is not the case. The last two years the H1B visa quota is getting over in less than a week. You need to have a job that sponsors H1B visa ready by April 1st if you want to continue working in US. What does that mean? Now you have a very small window to find a job. Let me explain.
Assume you graduated in Fall 2002, you are in OPT for an year and say you get a job in June 2003. Now you could immediately join for work and apply for your H1B visa that enabled you to work beyond December. If the same scenario happened in 2008, you may run out of luck with your H1B visa. The H1B visas got over by April and since you got a job only in June you cannot apply for H1B visa. If you were jobless for more than three months in OPT as per the new rule you are out of status and have to leave the country. So you don’t have much choice in front of you other than leaving the country or applying for another Masters. The point I am coming to is that H1B visa process has become a complicated one over the last few years with lot variables over which a student has little control. This makes things extremely difficult especially during a recession.
Now again the question – Should you come to US for higher studies? I believe it should be an individual’s decision. If you think you have the will power to overcome the difficulties, can manage the financial resources for higher studies, then you can think about it. One thing I can tell you from my experience and I am sure almost everyone who has done higher studies here will agree with me – coming to US all by yourself and undergoing the hardships and pain will make you a better individual, preparing you to face the challenges in the tough world we live in. I believe this is one of the most important and beautiful lessons of doing higher studies in US all by yourself.
CORRECTION:(March 22nd, 2009)
I had written earlier that you can be without job during the entire period of your first OPT (post completion OPT). Later I realized that it is not correct. If you accumulate 90 days of unemployment in post completion OPT you are out of status. I am very sorry for the confusion