With all this focus on computers, it's no surprise that it's become a hot topic of study at some of the nation's most presti-gious colleges. Take Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, the school Yahoo! Internet Life voted Most Wired Campus, thanks in part to its groundbreaking wireless computer network that allows students to log on without plugging in. It also has one of the country's most renowned computer science programs. "The major didn't even exist here in the '80s - it was started in the early '90s, and the number of stu-dents studying technology has grown in leaps and bounds," says Trevor Rusert, associate director of admissions. Of the 2,884 applicants to its elite comp sci major this year, only 380 were accepted and only 134 enrolled.

The Virtual Classroom
All this buzz has caught the nontraditional student's eye as well. Internet-based classes have become more prevalent, with students following lectures, taking tests, and yes, earning degrees from home - some-times from different states or even countries. According to IDC, the number of colleges and universities offering distance learning will more than double, to 3,300 in 2004 from 1,500 in 1999.

"There are some good programs and some bad, just like some universities are better than others," reads a message on a recent distance-learning discussion board post. "Being actively involved in meaningful discovery can involve brick and mortar or it can involve microchips."

But for the most part, high technology is being used to accentuate the flesh-and-blood college experience, not replace it. "I have a few friends at other schools that aren't as focused on technology. They're the ones who still keep in touch by phone instead of e-mail," says Claremont McKenna's Safavi. "I don't know - that just seems weird to me."
Compared: Number of U.S. Jobs in 1998 vs Projected Jobs in 2008 with Percent Change

General Computer Scientists
97,500 ('98), 212,100 ('08), 118% (percent change)

Computer Engineers
299,300, 622,100, 108%

Computer Support Specialists
429,300, 868,700, 102%

Sys. Analysts, Electronic Data Processing
616,900, 1,194,200, 94%

Database Administrators
87,400, 154,900, 77%

Elec Pagination Sys Operators
25,600, 44,200, 73%

Paralegal Personnel
136,000, 220,400, 62%

Medical Assistants
252,200, 398,000, 58%

Human Services Workers
268,400, 409,900, 53%

Physician Assistants
66,300, 98,100, 48%     

Data Processing Equipment Repairers
79,300, 116,600, 47%

Residential Counselors
189,900, 277,800, 46%

Electronic Semiconductor Processors
63,400, 92,000, 45%

Engineering, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences Managers