Business administration, which was not among the top five choices ofcounty residents asked about their higher education plans in 1985, surged to the top of the list in a 1990 Howard Community College survey.
The random telephone survey asked 400 county residents age 16 and older what and where they wanted to study and what services were needed to allow them to continue their education beyond high school.
The survey did not ask residents the reasons for their choices.
John Bouman, associate professor of business and economics at HCC, says he hasn't done a formal study, but he is seeing more interest among students in programs that allow them to transfer to four-year colleges and less interest in traditional two-year programs.
"I'm sensing that young people are getting more conservative and interested in jobs where they can make a good amount of money," Bouman says.
He says when he asks students on the first day of class why they signed up for his courses, he frequently gets answers like, "I want to get a good job and make a lot of money."
Twenty-four percent of the respondents said they were interested in business, followed by 14 percent in computer studies, 9 percent in professional programs such as law, medicine or engineering, 8 percent in science and math, and 7 percent in liberal arts.
Business wasn't even among the top five preferences in a similar survey taken five years earlier.
In 1985, 40percent of the students and prospective students planned to enter professional programs, 13 percent each were interested in liberal arts and computer studies, 8 percent in vocational programs and 7 percent in science and math.
More than two-thirds of the county residents surveyed expressed interest in taking courses or programs beyond highschool, a percentage similar to interest shown in 1985.
Of those currently enrolled, 25 percent were taking courses at HCC, 15 percentat the Columbia campus of Johns Hopkins University, 10 percent at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, 9 percent at the University of Maryland College Park and 9 percent at Catonsville Community College.