The Scam That Accounting Education Isn't

I complain about a lot of things in the industry that I probably should be grateful for instead: Sarbanes-Oxley, the PCAOB, the IASB and the AICPA Board of Examiners... the list goes on. I've done my fair share of complaining about accounting education as well (even offending some by implying professors were cheap and lazy though I certainly did not mean all or even most accounting professors) but I think it's safe for us to say that we have it a lot better than some other professions. Like law.

Check out Critical Mass on the law school scam (the entire thing is recommended reading):

Over the years, I wrote countless law school recommendations and very, very few grad school recommendations. I never worried too much about the ones who were law school-bound--the students I worried about were the ones who decided to go for PhD's in English. Grad school in the humanities is a scam. There are simply no jobs, tenure is disappearing, the culture of the academic humanities is pathological, and the sort of academic life grad students hope to acquire is ceasing to exist. But law school, I felt, was a safe bet--and would also offer its own variety of intellectual thrill. Who wouldn't want to learn to think with the precision, capaciousness, originality, and historical-mindedness that the law requires? It's beautiful and powerful and very, very useful. When done well, it's applied scholarship, scholarship with decisiveness and impact.

But bubbles are bursting everywhere we look these days. Last month I posted about how Loyola's law school is cooking transcripts to give its grads a leg up on the job market. Now comes word of widespread cynical profiteering at the expense of students' futures.

Accounting education doesn't appear to be so neatly packaged as the debt factory that law is, nor does it seem to produce too many rats to fit in our particular race. Sure, there are plenty of unequipped idiots who get through (shouldn't professors exist to weed these out if education is, in fact, meant for the greater good of our economy and not just to create more perpetual debt?) but that happens in any profession, no more in accounting than elsewhere as far as I can tell.

Do a Google search on the law school scam and you'll get pages upon pages of results. Do one on the accounting education scam and you'll get one question about DeVry's accounting program (I won't say a word). Does that mean accounting is any better off?

Somewhere between this depressing March 2010 report from CPA Trendlines on how actual firms held up through the recession in 2009, and the rosy reports from hijacked media like CNN about how great the industry is handling this mess, lies the truth. Some areas are better than others and some accounting grads just don't deserve a job. With the firms lining up the lawyers instead of the staff, you can bet the days of skating your way through 2 years of easy work experience are pretty much over.

Hopefully this means fewer unqualified future accountants being pushed through accounting programs that will soon be starving for qualified educators and better prospects for the bright, talented future CPAs who actually deserve a job in this industry.

Comments