In a volatile job market, many people looking to control their own destiny are applying to graduate school.
In a volatile job market, graduate schools and community colleges alike are seeing an increase in applications.
Testing giant Kaplan said it's seen as much as a 45 percent rise in business, law and graduate school applications since Sept. 1.
Applications are up 76 percent at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business.
"Any time the economy is tough, not unlike this period that we are going through, we see an increase in applications for MBA programs," said Marci Armstrong, the associate dean for graduate programs at SMU.
Armstrong said the school hasn't seen such a surge since after Sept. 11, 2001.
"Some of the applicants are anticipating layoffs and they're going to get in now assuming that they're going to be laid off or that they are vulnerable to a layoff," Armstrong said.
Getting into the Cox School, which was recently ranked 18th on a list of MBA programs by Business Week Magazine, will be even more competitive because of the demand.
On the flip side, 2009 MBA graduates face a tough job market. Finance and real estate development jobs are scarce.
"(It's) probably the worst timing we could have had," Chenoweth said.
People are also turning to community colleges. Enrollment at Collin County Community College in Frisco is up 10 percent for the fall semester.
Shelly Gallucci, who worked for 10 years in the mortgage industry, said she's looking for a career that offers job security in uncertain economic times.
"I've actually been laid off, but it works out that there are positions in what I'm about to be certified in," she said.
Gallucci, a wife and mother, takes technology classes at Collin County Community College "because every industry from health care to financial needs it."
Everyone in Gallucci's class is in their 30s and 40s and between jobs or feeling the pressure of having to compete with 20-somethings.
"By far, our largest enrollment demographic is going to be students returning to work after being laid off or trying to find another job," professor Serena Butler said.
Bernardo Turcios, another student in Gallucci's class, said he wants to enhance his skills. He said he's been in his job for almost 20 years but wants to stay competitive.
As one student said, every little bit helps in the current economy.