Academic journal article Communications of the IIMA

Dot.com Boom and Bust Effects on MIS College Enrollments: 1995-2006

Academic journal article Communications of the IIMA

Dot.com Boom and Bust Effects on MIS College Enrollments: 1995-2006

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper presents an overview of the impact of the dot.com boom and bust on the enrollment of students in information technology related business school programs at seven US colleges and universities during the period 1995-2006. Also, this paper presents the results of a related survey of factors affecting undergraduate business students' choice of major at two southern US universities.

INTRODUCTION

Many are familiar with the dot.com boom at the end of the 20th century and the subsequent bust in the first few years of the 21st century. Investors became overnight millionaires as Internet stock prices soared, and hundreds of companies went bankrupt in the subsequent decline. The beginning of the e-commerce boom began around 1996 when Internet stock tracking indices first appeared. As seen in Figure 1, the peak in stock values for most e-commerce businesses occurred in the early part of 2000, while the end of the decline occurred in late 2002. Since then, prices have recovered somewhat, but nearly 50% of the businesses operating in 1998 no longer existed in 2003 (University of Maryland, 2006). In addition to the wild fluctuation of stock prices, many other related activities were affected such as advertising expenditures, real estate and rental prices in Silicon Valley, and even the number of academic papers written about electronic commerce (Kim, Aiken, & Vanjani, 2006). Also, while salaries and hiring of information technology (IT) professionals were affected by this bubble to some extent, the enrollments of IT students in colleges and universities were affected to a much larger degree.

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relationship between the dot.com boom and bust with IT college enrollments between the years of 1995 and 2006 and investigate factors affecting the related enrollment decline. This paper presents a summary of IT related major enrollment at seven different universities in the United States from 1995 through 2006. Also, a survey was used to identify the factors that affected the choice of major for undergraduate business students. The results of this survey of factors affecting undergraduate business students' choice of majors conducted at two universities shows that personal interest in and reputation of the major were significant factors in students' choice of major. It is the expectation that this information will likely better prepare colleges and universities to plan recruitment strategies for IT majors.

BACKGROUND

The history of IT student enrollments at universities and colleges in the United States has shown erratic periods of growth (Lennox, Woratschek, & Davis, 2005; Lomerson & Pollacia, 2006). For example, from 1980 to 1986, the number of Computer Science (CS) students increased by more than four times, but between 1986 and 1990, their number had dropped 40% (Cale, Mawhinney, & Callaghan, 1991; Office of Technology Policy, 1997). By the early 1990s, enrollments again began to grow. However, it was the beginning of the dot.com bubble that really began to spur enrollment growth. For example, at the University of Mississippi, growth in the number of Management Information Systems (MIS) majors had increased by roughly 50% over the first half of the decade (see Figure 2), and many other universities experienced similar bubbles in IT enrollment growth. As an additional example, Florida State's MIS student population doubled between 1995 and 2000 before declining substantially (see Figure 3).

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IT enrollment at universities across the country increased dramatically at the end of the decade as many students became aware of the great job offers and the high salaries in the field because of the boom in e-commerce hiring (Goff, 2000; Goff, 2001) and to a lesser extent, the need for programmers to fix the Y2K bug (Edwards, 1999). …

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