Recruiting Future CPAs: Is Enough Being Done?

Article excerpt

Are college accounting departments doing enough to recruit the "best and the brightest" students into the CPA profession? Based on a survey we conducted, we found substantial efforts were being undertaken but more definitely could be done.

We asked accounting program administrators at over 600 four-year institutions about their participation in recruiting activities aimed at improving the number--and quality--of accounting students, and 61% replied. State CPA society executive directors also were polled, and 92% replied.

Among the accounting program results:

* Sixty-six percent of respondents in academe reported they are actively involved in recruiting activities.

* Thirty-eight percent of college accounting departments had a faculty member serving as the focus recruiter.

But

* Only 25% reported maintaining active liaisons with their state CPA societies.

* Only 22% of recruiting programs targeted minority high schools.

The most popular and effective recruiting activity was to pursue directly the best nonaccounting majors taking accounting principles courses. The only other activity in which more than half the university respondents participated was providing recruiting materials to high school and community college guidance counselors and to incoming admitted students.

However, only 11% of accounting programs at four-year colleges and universities made any attempt to recruit students currently attending two-year community colleges, where nearly a quarter of all accounting students and almost half of all business students take their accounting principles courses.

The lack of attention to America's 1,200 community colleges is significant. As tuition continues to rise at four-year institutions, more students are expected to spend their first two years at community colleges and then transfer to larger schools to complete their degrees.

Size counts. Another finding: The larger an institution's enrollment, the less committed it was to direct recruiting activity (for example, mailings to guidance counselors or prospective and admitted students). Perhaps larger colleges' administrators believe their accounting programs already are oversubscribed.

Similarly, schools accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business were less engaged in recruiting activities, perhaps because of a natural recruiting advantage afforded by their accreditations.

State societies: an underused resource. Not surprisingly, over 90% of the responding state CPA societies supported and engaged in recruiting activities. Most common among these were

* Scholarships awarded for accounting study at four-year institutions.

* Information and recruiting materials provided to guidance counselors. …