Wall Street’s collapse may be IT program’s gain

September 26th, 2008

Virtually all information technology programs in the US and Europe saw their enrollments drop significantly after the dot com bubble deflated in 2001. Students decided to pursue other majors, even though the IT job market remained strong — it just wasn’t insanely strong.

At UMBC, the number of our Computer Science majors fell by almost 50%, even though the number of BS degrees we produced declined only slightly. Our Information Systems Department suffered an even greater decrease in their undergraduate programs.

One of the popular alternatives students moved toward was business, especially finance, banking and trading, where young people with good analytic skills who were willing to work hard could do very well.

Computer World has an article, Wall Street’s collapse may be computer science’s gain, that speculates the flow will reverse.

“The collapse of Wall Street may help make computer science and IT careers attractive to students who abandoned these fields in droves after the pop of the last big bubble, the dot-com bust of 2001.
    William Dally, chairman of the computer science department at Stanford University, said that for the last several years, he has watched some students interested in technology go into banking and finance because those fields could be more lucrative.
    “Many thought they could make more money in hedge funds,” Dally said. He said students are returning to computer science because they like the field and not because it can necessarily make them rich.”

My only regret is that the IT industry (including the academic sector) didn’t get a multi-hundred-billion dollar federal bailout back in 2000.

(h/t to Marie desJardins)