Ano important influence on a business school's program is the background, interests, and motivations of its students. A widely held view is that most students studying business subjects have a rather strong vocational orientation and that to a greater or lesser extent business programs will inevitably be shaped by this fact. According to this view, to force such students to spend any considerable amount of time studying subjects far removed from their main interest is felt to be largely a waste of time if not actually stultifying; rather, it is said, their college work should be geared closely to their career interests without permitting the latter to become completely dominant.
In assessing this point of view, it should be recognized at the outset that there is comparatively little known about the interests, motivations, and learning capacities or processes of college students, particularly when grouped by programs of major study, so these are not matters which can be discussed with much assurance. This comment may apply somewhat less strongly to students in a well-defined specialty like forestry or accounting and to students concentrating on a specific career objective at the graduate level, but it holds with special force for undergraduates, and even general graduate students, in broad, vaguely defined areas like business administration and the liberal arts. In both cases it seems only plausible to assume, a priori, that the interests and attitudes of the students would be spread out over a rather wide spectrum, with some (presumably a relatively small number) interested in the broader reaches of knowledge, others (presumably a somewhat larger number) interested almost exclusively in some specific vocational objective, and still others (presumably the largest group of all) lacking any clear educational or career purpose.
It is evident from the investigations that a substantial portion of college students, including those in liberal arts programs, think of their college experience primarily in terms of finding a good job and advancing their subsequent careers. This is hardly a surprising result and, particularly for men students, a thoroughly understandable one. The issue is not so much whether undergraduates (business students included) approach their college work in career terms but rather in what sense and to what extent this attitude is dominant during their college going years. The type of career interest, and the approach which students and schools take to it, is really the important issue, since some career interests can be most broadening and others may be very narrowing. The available evidence, while for the most part indirect and sketchy, is reviewed from this point of view.