Photo courtesy IthacaA few weeks ago my husband and I packed up our youngest for college. For parents the new empty nest syndrome is bittersweet, but we’re excited to see what the future holds for this emerging generation.

There are a couple of trends I am seeing in colleges across the U.S.

One trend is a major cutback on university budgets to the point where some are resorting to phasing out some of their less popular academic programs.

Last month the University of Southern Mississippi announced it would completely eliminate its economics department as part of a plan to reduce spending by $11 to $12 million within the year.

Many other colleges dealing with revenue loss are making cuts in the arts.But it’s not all the economy to blame. Many fewer students are enrolling in the arts programs than they were in the past.

Which leads me to the second trend I am seeing: Naturally, college students are concerned about securing jobs during the recession, but many universities are seeing students continue to choose majors which they enjoy.

The San Diego Union-Tribune interviewed career counselors and reports that despite the recession’s toll on jobs, the most popular majors at local universities have remained unchanged for several years.

Today’s students seem to gravitate toward majors they think will be personally satisfying, which is a change in attitude from what college students were thinking about 25 or 30 years ago. In those days we were more focused on being practical and getting a job that would bring in a steady income and job security.

I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing!

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