1. Sep 17, 2008

### Cincinnatus

I'm glad that I'm already in graduate school. Thousands of wall street employees are going to be laid off this year as all these companies go under. I bet most of them will be fairly recent college graduates from prestigious undergraduate institutions. Probably, many of them are going to be applying to graduate school now.

What do you think? Is the finance crisis going to make this year into one of the most competitive years for graduate admissions?

2. Sep 17, 2008

### JasonJo

Oh god I hope not. I applied last year and a lot of math departments grad director said that 2008 was one of the most competitive years. Hopefully a lot of these ex-Wall Street guys go for law or med school or business school.

3. Sep 17, 2008

### mgb_phys

It's a combination of "I can't get a job, I might as well hide in grad school for a few years" and "I was going to go to grad school but Wall St are offering me \$"

I don't think laid off traders are a factor

Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
4. Sep 17, 2008

### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
I doubt it. Actually, the Wall Street folks getting laid off are probably not the sort to want to go to grad school, since they're more likely entirely motivated by money. Quite a lot got tossed out of jobs yesterday, but considering their business ethics, I'm not going to worry too much if they find themselves in cardboard boxes at night and spending their days begging in Central Park (they can't spend the night there anymore...there's a curfew). If they were to attend grad school, it would be no competition with the maths or sciences...maybe some would bide their time in MBA programs, if they don't already have MBA degrees.

5. Sep 17, 2008

### JasonJo

I don't know, you don't think any talented Ivy League undergrad math majors got attractive offers from Lehman Brothers or Merryl Lynch? I'm not saying it's a lot of people, but I could see some kind of nontrivial correlation. A lot of people lost their jobs.

The bright side is that if they laid off quants, they already have math or physics PhD's.

I don't know, I am so nervous about my application this year, so I'm not going to disregard it.

6. Sep 17, 2008

### quantumlaser

I can see both arguments. I have a hard time believing that recent grads on the fast track to bags of money would abandon that road for the pittance of grad school. Then again, where else are they going to go? Seems inevitable that at least some of them would end up in grad school. Also, there will probably be a spike in 2008 applicants because students graduating this year aren't taking those jobs since they probably aren't going to be available this year unless the economy does a 360.

7. Sep 21, 2008

### ralphhumacho

Some programs usually see huge increases during economic slowdowns (MBA, Law Schools, Master's Programs). I'm taking about 50-100% increases in applicants. According to my Math Department Chair, our Math PhD program usually sees about 10-15% increase in applicants during financial slowdowns, sometimes not even that much. I'd imagine it would be even lower for Physics.

8. Sep 21, 2008

### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Okay, I could see an increase in MBA or law school applicants from all those people with business degrees and no place else to go. Maybe a few would head into math, but really, business school types are generally scared to death of math and whine and complain about their most basic calc classes. I don't think they'd be applying to many other graduate programs. And, would someone coming from a failed financial sector be as strong of an applicant to a math graduate program as a math major?

9. Sep 21, 2008

### ralphhumacho

Yeah I don't think Physics/Math people have too much to worry about. Oh and Computer Science is usually pretty volatile (especially Master's programs). A lot of laid off IT people go back for their next degree.

10. Jul 10, 2009

### siyphsc

I talked to a professor on the admissions board for the phd physics program at the university of texas and he said that, due to the recession, admissions applications have been up over 40%. You can see the difference in the number of people accepted this year and last year:
versus

Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
11. Jul 12, 2009

### j93

Youre assumptions are not very accurate. For Example
Finance was the top employment sector for MIT in 2008 and it had a percentage almost twice that of second place. MIT obviously not full of people "scared to death of math"
I could only imagine these employment numbers being skewed for 2009

There is also no reason to believe that "someone coming from a failed financial sector " is not a math major or even an individual with a Math masters. During the financial boom it wasnt inconceivable to jump ship in graduate school or a post doc for the right job.

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
12. Jul 12, 2009

### Proggle

In short, I do not think working for Wall Street is something you want to have on your grad school application this year. Also, I feel that resentment is still high against the finance sector for the current economic situation. I think that most committees probably have enough candidates that can demonstrate being truly passionate about research to fill up their available slots.

Also, I am writing this mostly with PhD programs in mind. It may be different for Master's, but those are usually not as competitive to begin with (with a few exceptions, of course).

13. Jul 12, 2009

### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Sure, people just graduating don't see a lot of job prospects out there, so instead of sending out resumes, they're applying to grad school. That's not so surprising. Has anyone seen any real increase in admissions from former Wall Street employees, though?

And, NOT everyone at MIT is a math major. Just because people from MIT go into the financial sector doesn't mean they're math or physics majors. MIT has a business school too. And, don't forget all those layoffs weren't just the finance people, indeed, a lot weren't. When you see massive layoffs, the majority of those are the "disposable" support staff...secretaries, receptionists, custodians.

Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
14. Jul 13, 2009

### j93

If this was true than the subject GRE wouldnt trump Research Experience in graduate admissions but they do. If this was true graduate physics programs wouldnt take computer engineering graduates with high PGRE over physics graduates. Most programs are looking for the students with the most potential to succeed and they tend to use GPA and subject GRE's along with recommendations to determine this. All of these are orthogonal to having a wall street job on your resume. A resume/Work isnt event required to complete your application for most application.

The point is not that they are math majors but they are not those who are afraid of math or of higher education just occasionally choose not to due to certain opportunities. They might not all be math majors but they are mostly tech majors.

This would be impossible to determine due to the amount of statistics and the amount of cooperation between institutions necessary. However even 50 ex-Wallstreet employees would make a difference since increased competition is increased competition.