College

(UPDATE) Which School Tops U.S. News Rankings in Undergrad Accounting?

Ed. note: U.S. News and World Report has issued a correction, stating they "incorrectly loaded peer reputation scores." The corrected ranking may be found below. Sorry, University of Illinois! RANKINGS. Love them or hate them, how else are we supposed to know who we're better than? The 30th edition of U.S. News and World Report […]

These 50 Colleges are So Desperate for Students, They’re Putting Education on Sale

June is a little late for schools to be thinking about filling up their freshman and transfer spots but the National Association of College Admissions Counseling says 470 schools — some of which you've actually heard of — are telling them they're in need of warm bodies: NACAC’s  new 2014 “College Openings Update” list is […]

What’s the Deal with These Public Accounting Sophomore Leadership Programs?

Recruiting events and firm slogans may change over time — even year to year — but one thing is constant: competition for top talent. Long gone are the days when firms scrutinized a candidate’s grade in intermediate accounting to see if they could make the cut. Today some firms aren’t even waiting for candidates to […]

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Accounting Degree, No Probl– Actually, Small Problem

Remember Part 1 of this where a few of you asked "what was the point of this post?" Welcome to Part 2, where I explain that very point. Let’s recall a few details from Part 1, as this article is really only relevant to two unique groups of students: Double majors who declared a first […]

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Accounting Degree, No Problem!

In this week’s accounting issue, we're going to examine the void between requirements in a public university’s accounting program and their state’s CPA requirements. The equation should look a little like this: Seems simple enough; CPA requirements are set by the given state board of accountancy. Universities set their program curriculums.  One might assume, of […]

Is College That Guy on eBay Who Never Paid For the Crap You Sent Him?

Recently, I spoke to a group of accounting students in a Cost II class. One woman asked me a great question: “Do you regret anything?” The question came up after I told the students that I left my last employer (PwC) to start my own company after working only a few years. While I don’t […]

Accounting Student Gets Stumped by Journal Entry Exam Question; Doodles Boat

Profession, meet your future. Grading exams, I'm overflowing with confidence in the next generation of CPAs. @going_concern pic.twitter.com/OzFNkUStAN — Brad Kendrex (@bradkendrex) December 19, 2013  

The AICPA Found That Crippling Student Loans Can Be a Real Drag

The "duh" comes from AICPA Insights: According to a new survey conducted for the AICPA by Harris Interactive, only 39% fully understood the burden student loan debt would place on the future and 60% have at least some regret over the choice of education financing.  Furthermore, 75% have made a personal or financial sacrifice–such as delaying […]

Will This Intern’s Trip to the Drunk Tank Jeopardize His Career Aspirations?

Over the years, we have received many questions regarding criminal histories and a life in public accounting. Not surprisingly, most of these cases have revolved around drugs or alcohol. We aren't talking about major meth production rings (that might be a small disqualification) or moonshining operations, but your run-of-the-mill silly college mistakes like getting tossed […]

A Young Reader Requests the Lowdown on Santa Clara University’s Accounting Program

Are you considering wasting my time instead of wasting your own when you should be studying for the CPA exam? Do you get off on degenerates criticizing you? Just need a good old fashioned AG talking to? Get in touch and I'll help you procrastinate by answering questions you could ask Google. I was wondering […]

New Accounting Club President Needs Help Trolling Peers, Firms

Need help working on your office etiquette or lack thereof? Trying to figure out how to hit on your colleague without getting dragged off to 12 weeks of sexual harassment training? We've got your back, just get in touch. I've just been elected Accounting Club President! Any suggestions on how to best troll my peers […]

In Honor of CPA Day, Let’s Talk Maryland Colleges’ CPA Exam Results

Contributor note: I'm in Annapolis all day with Tom Hood and the amazing Maryland Association of CPAs for their annual CPA Day. Follow #CPADAY12 on Twitter for live updates as Maryland CPAs storm the State House! Though no one has asked for these results, it's only fitting that I cover Maryland CPA exam performance from […]

Turns Out You Don’t Have to Go to a “Real” College to Do Well on the CPA Exam

The great thing about accounting is that unlike law, you don’t have to go to a top school to have a successful career. While it helps to be in front of Big 4 recruiters at the major accounting schools if that’s the route you want to take, here’s a little proof that you can easily get through the CPA exam even if your educational background is comprised solely of community college. At least in Texas.

The Texas State Board of Accountancy recently released its list of top CPA exam pass rates among Texas colleges and universities and it turns out a community college is among the University of Texas and Texas A&M.

The University of Texas at Austin had a 75 percent pass rate (it is unclear if that is a first-time pass rate or what) while the Austin Community College came in 10th with 53 percent. Other schools on the list were Texas A&M, Baylor University and Texas Tech.

ACC was the only community college to make the list. Their CPA program currently has about 400 students.

ACC Dean of Business Studies David Quinn told KUT News that ACC has made the list every year except one since the school became accredited in 2002.

“I’m very proud of our faculty and our students in our professional accounting program,” he said. “They’ve proven time and time again that they can do as good of a job as the best universities in the State of Texas.”

If you’re interested, you can dig through the results from the TX Board here.

How a Homeless High School Dropout Became an Accountant

Remember the story of the 48-year-old woman who took 19 years to get her bachelor’s in accounting? This is sort of like that except today’s protagonist was the family black sheep, a high school dropout, and lived out of her car.

29-year-old Jennifer Brown dropped out of Clackamas High (OR) her freshman year, spent some months in a group home and alternative school and spent the next several years working crappy jobs, alternating between her then-boyfriend’s house and sleeping in her car. By the time she was 25, she was working at a grocery store and realized she loved keeping the store’s books.

At 25, she got married and quit her job at the grocery store to pursue her educational dreams, enrolling full-time at a community college in San Diego. It took her three semesters before she could take math classes for credit, being placed in remedial math classes until she could be caught up.

Through the support of tutors and professors, she managed to maintain a 4.0 for two semesters before the family moved to Portland to be with her husband’s father, who was dying of bone cancer. From there, she attended Clackamas and Mt. Hood community colleges and Clark College in Vancouver to put together the classes required to transfer to the University of Portland’s accounting program. She kept up a 3.9 GPA, nailing “As” in classes like business calculus, statistics and decision modeling.

Brown will graduate from the University of Portland on May 8th with a bachelor’s in business administration. From there, she’s off to the University of Southern California, presumably for her Masters in accounting. She’s interned at Deloitte and mentored high school students like herself, at risk of dropping out or otherwise veering off the path.

Eventually, she wants to earn a doctorate degree and be a forensic and fraud auditor for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Commence to calling her an underachiever in the comments, as is your wont, dear Going Concern readers.

As Oregon begins the college graduation season, nontraditional students take a bow [OregonLive]

Woman Realizes Her Dream of an Accounting Degree After 19 Years

Whenever you feel unmotivated to get your accounting degree or are concerned you’ve made an awful career decision, just think about this Iowa woman who worked 19 long, tedious-ass years to get her bachelor’s in accounting.

We’re totally OK with this woman being too busy to take the CPA exam, this is the ultimate excuse to be unable to get through the exam in 18 months. Bow to her greatness and insantly feel guilty for being greedy when it comes to compensation and slacking so hard on the job.

In 1992, a gallon of gas cost $1.13, Bill Clinton won the presidential election and Kathy Vitzthum took her first class at Iowa State University.

Vitzthum has taken about one class each and every semester since. For 40 semesters. Since Miley Cyrus was born. Since Charles and Diana split up. Since Ross Perot pulled out his charts and pointer on TV. Since the World Wide Web was in its infancy (and text only).

On May 7, the 48-year-old Vitzthum, who lives in Slater, graduates summa cum laude from Iowa State. She has achieved her goal — a bachelor’s degree in accounting — after juggling family and career with finals and papers for 19 years.

Now, we don’t judge as we all have our different career paths but while congratulating this woman for her epic accomplishment, it’s wise to point out that we don’t necessarily recommend this bundle of choices for just anyone. It’s easiest to go college, then pass the CPA exam or start work (it’s usually easiest to do the exam in-between school and starting work), then get married and/or have kids. You are welcome to do these in any order you like, we just wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t point this out.

I’m not sure what you all were doing in 1992 but I was in 6th grade. Think about that for a minute next time you hate your life and/or career decisions.

Final Call for Any Accounting Students Interested in Free Money

Just a quick reminder gang – the deadline for the AccountingWEB Accounting Student Scholarship is tonight at midnight. So if you or anyone you know might be interested in winning some free money for college, I suggest you get on this ASAP.

We now return to your regularly scheduled inflammatory nonsense.

Attention Accounting Students Interested in Free Money

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

If you know an accounting student, or if you are an accounting student, get busy and get writing. The deadline for the AccountingWEB Accounting Student Scholarship is midnight Thursday, March 31.

The clock is ticking, but there is still a window of opportunity for accounting students to compose an essay of no more than 500 words with the topic, “There’s an App for That.” Essays will be judged on creativity, innovation, quality of writing, structure, logic, and, where applicable, sources and research.


Participation in the AccountingWEB Accounting Student Scholarship program is open to U.S., Canadian, and Mexican citizens who are students attending colleges, universities, and professional schools of accounting in North America. Students applying for the AccountingWEB Accounting Student Scholarship must have already completed at least one semester or two trimesters of full-time college and must be declared accounting majors, effective for the fall of 2011. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to enter.

The scholarship is a $1,000 one-time award, payable to the educational institution where winning students are in attendance as full-time students, have a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, or the equivalent, and who are declared accounting majors. Transcripts are required as evidence of this status. More details and a link to the online application are available in the Scholarship Rules.

Students can submit their application online or by U.S. mail. All applications must be postmarked or submitted by midnight Eastern time, March 31, 2011.

Click here to forward this message to your favorite accounting student!

KPMG University?

Well, sort of.

If you’re thinking something similar to Deloitte’s sprawling campus down in Texas, then you’d be mistaken. The British firm has decided to recruit “school leavers, not university graduates” and will sponsor them to get accounting degrees, reports the FT:

From next year, KPMG will take in 75 school leavers, and then meet the cost of a four-year accountancy degree from Durham university and an accountancy qualification. Trainees on the six-year scheme will start on up to £20,000 a year. In 2012-13, the maximum university tuition fee, now £3,290, will rise to £9,000. At the same time, subsidies are being withdrawn from the sector and rules loosened to allow new entrants into the market and innovation in course design. As a consequence, such schemes could become more attractive to universities.

You could reason that this is a good thing because of the money it will save the students but our concern lies with their university experience. Or, the lack thereof:

KPMG said it could eventually take “in excess of 400” of these trainees a year, more than half its intake. The scheme is therefore expected to replace much of its traditional graduate recruitment. KPMG trainees will not join a conventional degree course. They will, instead, attend special classes to allow them to spend most of their time working at one of the company’s offices.

So, maybe we’re misinterpreting the Queen’s English but that sure sounds like recruits spending their college days sporting business casual, undermining interns/new associates for gofer duties and nothing to do with binge drinking, drug experimentation, gaining the freshman 15 (50?) or sinking themselves into debt. Is nothing sacred?

KPMG to fund young recruits’ degrees [FT]

Should CPA Exam Candidates Crack Open College Textbooks?

It’s a valid question and we haven’t answered it yet so let’s give it a shot, shall we? Here’s the specific reader inquiry:

I graduated in 2008 with an accounting degree, but I’ve not really pursued anything in accounting since then. Without talking too much about my personal life, I’ll just say I had better opportunities.

Anyways, I’m considering getting back into public accounting, and I plan on beginning taking the CPA exam in 2011, after busy season. If I order a CPA review course, will that be enough, or should I spend some time reviewing my books/notes from college?


Yeah, we’re with you on the “better opportunities,” be that foaming lattes or harvesting certain medicinal plants (depending on your state, of course), so let’s forget about what you’ve been doing since you graduated and focus on the task at hand: passing the CPA exam.

As we’ve told you plenty of times, it’s always best to knock the exam out as soon as you graduate since you likely still have some sort of study habits left over from college and aren’t yet tied down with family and a career but things don’t always work out that way for whatever reason. That’s fine, my professional experience has actually been that those who take some time off after school do better once they do start to tackle the exam simply because they are older, wiser and usually slightly more dedicated than a 22 year old fresh out of college. No offense to the dedicated 22 year olds out there, of course.

But please, whatever you do, don’t bother with your college textbooks. Chances are your cheap, lazy and overworked accounting professors used the same textbooks year after year while the CPA exam changes twice a year. Sure debits still went on the left even in 1903 but keep in mind the CPA exam isn’t necessarily a test of how good of a CPA you will be but a comprehensive skills test that identifies your shallow knowledge of a broad range of subjects. Think of the exam as a lake 15 miles wide but only an inch deep; some of your college texts may delve into some areas in detail that aren’t really tested on the exam or they could skip entire areas completely, especially since you graduated just as the economic crisis was hitting. Things have changed since then and with international standards hitting in 2011, the chances are even lower that these areas were covered in school.

For you, the best thing to do is find a review course that will help refresh your knowledge based on what you learned in school but also give you a general outline of topics that you may have forgotten or never covered when you were in college. I know it’s called “review” but a good review course can teach you as if you have no prior accounting experience whatsoever… assuming you do remember which side to stick the debits on.

Skip the textbooks and spend your time focusing on a review product that will give you exactly what you need to pass the exam. Good luck!

Accounting Program Rankings: Open Thread

Thumbnail image for BelushiCollege_CPA.jpgA tipster pointed us to a link that went up on Tuesday over at the College of William & Mary’s Mason School of Business that announced the school as the “number one ranked small school for both their undergraduate and Master of Accounting programs.”
The website gives us the lowdown on the Public Accounting Report’s 2009 Annual Survey of Accounting Professors :

For the first time, the rankings have been split into three categories: small, medium and large schools, according to the number of teaching professors at the institution. The school rankings are based on professors’ ranking of accounting programs on a 1 to 10 scale in answering the question, “which programs consistently turn out students capable of some day attaining partner status?”


Judging by our partner thread poll over 60% of you aren’t interested in making partner and only a small percentage of you will actually become parters, so the question seems narrow to us.
We did some looking around and the only other school we’ve found that is making any noise about this so far is the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business:

Following a venerable tradition in the PAR, McCombs continues to excel across all three rankings–undergraduate, graduate, and PhD.–each of which ranks the top 25 programs in the nation.

tu UT ranks #2, #1, #1, and #1 in undergrad, grad, doctoral (teaching), and doctoral (research). The #1 ranked school for the undergrad program was the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign but nothing appears on the website yet.
So if only two schools are making a fuss about this, the question is worth asking: do the rankings mean anything? The Big 4 recruit at many schools and it’s no secret that academic “prestige” does not guarantee professional success so are schools making a BFD out of something of marginal importance?
Our question is merely our own musing so opine it if you like but this is an open thread on accounting school rankings so discuss at nauseam whatever you like. If your school has sent out an announcement related to the “Public Accounting Report’s 2009 Annual Survey of Accounting Professors” toss it our way and we’ll update the post with other rankings.
UPDATE: Check out select placement stats for the College of William & Mary and UT Austin here.
McCombs Tops List of Accounting Programs in Latest Ranking [McCombs Today]