Survey reveals shift in majors

By Steve Carasso

A recent survey shows college freshmen are foregoing careers in business and shifting their majors to health professions.

The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA polled 210,000 freshmen for its annual survey. Results showed 15.6 percent of college freshmen pursue business-related careers, a step down from 18.4 percent in 1990. In 1987, 24.6 percent of college freshmen aspired for business careers.

In comparison, for the fourth consecutive year, the percent of college freshmen seeking health professions has risen. In 1987, the percentage was 7.2 and in 1991 it jumped to 12.9 percent.

The trend appears to be happening at NIU. Figures obtained from NIU’s Institutional Research department reveal business enrollment for freshmen has dropped from 33 percent in the fall of 1990 to 29.1 percent in the fall of 1991.

On the contrary, enrollment for health profession majors has increased at NIU. Figures taken from the allied health professions, communicative disorders and nursing departments show an increase in freshmen in these majors, with the exception of nursing, which remained the same.

The three majors combined had a freshman enrollment of 4.5 percent in the fall of 1990 and it rose to 5.2 percent in the fall of 1991.

Physical Therapy Coordinator Mary Jane Harris said over the last few years, popular media have helped to make health careers desirable to students and people.

For example, Harris said Working Woman magazine rated physical therapy as the number one desirable profession for women in America.

With the economy in a recession and jobs insecure, Harris said the health industry has plenty of jobs to offer. She said the salaries in the field are high, drawing more interest.

The UCLA survey also asked about specific freshmen lifestyles and habits. It showed freshmen drinking is down from a high of 75.2 percent in 1981 to 57.3 percent in 1991.

At NIU, an incoming freshmen survey shows the results are similar. Freshmen drinking has gone down from 61 percent in 1990 to 58.3 in 1991.

On another related note, there is good news for the tobacco industry and bad news for the ozone.

The survey said cigarette smoking is up to 11.3 percent, compared to an all-time low 8.9 percent in 1987.

Like the other trends, NIU followed. In 1990, 7.8 percent said they smoked cigarettes and 8.3 percent said they did in 1991.