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Literature, art studies lure IT workers

July 4, 1998
Web posted at: 9:38 a.m. EDT (1338 GMT)

by Patrick Thibodeau

(IDG) -- If they could return to their undergraduate days, many IT workers say they would spend less time with Unix, networks and Windows and put more effort into getting to know Plato, Virginia Woolff and Pablo Picasso.

Nearly 40% of IT workers said that they would major in a nontechnical subject area if they could return to college, according to a new survey from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

The number of IT professionals who wish they had majored in another subject was just a bit smaller than the number of workers in other occupations, according to this survey of 400 college-educated workers in a variety of occupations.

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But the striking thing about the survey was this: Peel away the pocket protector and underneath you'll find the heart of a liberal arts student. Of the approximately 40% who said they would pick a different major, 56% of the IT workers said they would major in a nontechnical area if they could pick their majors again. Another 26% picked education as their desired focus. Survey results for non-IT college graduates were nearly reversed. For them, the grass was greener in the world of technology. Most picked technical areas: computer science 15%, medical 11%, engineering 8% or business 16%. Nontechnical areas were picked by 31%, and education 12%.

George Mason officials took the survey's results as a sign that people want to balance their lives and fill in gaps in their knowledge. And many in the survey are doing just that: 57% have taken college-level courses since graduation to expand their knowledge.

The telephone poll was targeted at people who graduated from college at least 10 years ago and were between the ages of 30 and 55.

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