By Jennifer Rieman, CAE, manager, public relations
It’s one thing to host events that encourage students to major in accounting. It’s another to change their perception of the profession. That’s just what The Ohio CPA Foundation’s High School Accounting Careers Days are doing across Ohio.
Last fall, hundreds of students attended events on campuses and at high schools statewide. Survey results show that prior to attending, almost 50 percent of students had no or little interest in majoring in accounting. After experiencing a High School Accounting Career day, more than 70 percent were considering the major.
During the half-day events, students learn from professionals in both public accounting and industry.
“The opportunities are endless,” said Christopher Kaspar, CPA, audit manager, Gilmore Jasion Mahler at the Toledo High School Accounting Career Day. “You can pretty much work for anyone and work anywhere in the world with an accounting degree.”
Although many of the students have participated in a high school accounting class, they’re still unsure of what the day-to-day life of a CPA entails.
“We got a lot more information about what it’s like,” said Desirae Villarreal, a senior at Genoa High School. “All of the stuff about being a CPA – now I understand it more. It’s not easy. You have to take the exam and follow certain steps.”
After attending a High School Accounting Career Day, the number of students considering earning their CPA skyrockets. Before the event, 30 percent were considering it, while after the event, 54 percent are interested. It also moves a lot of students from the ‘no’ category to ‘maybe’; 34 percent were uninterested before the event; after, the number declines to only 6 percent.
Much of the work High School Accounting Career Days do is to shift negative stereotypes of accounting, from a solitary, introvert’s profession to one that requires the ability to form relationships.
“Communication is 90 percent of my job,” Danielle Betts, CPA, staff, assurance staff, Plante Moran told the students at the Toledo event.
The post-event surveys indicate huge shifts in perception. Only 60 percent of students had a positive perception of accounting before attending. After going through a High School Accounting Career Day, the number jumped to 91 percent.
“It gave me another view of accounting from listening to the speakers,” said Zach Brown, Youngstown High School Accounting Career day attendee. “It was good to hear what they had to say. Now I'm really thinking about going into accounting.”
A gift to The Ohio CPA Foundation’s Annual Fund Campaign will directly support pipeline initiatives like High School Accounting Career Days that support students on the path to the CPA profession. To learn more or make a contribution, visit www.ohiocpafoundation.org or contact Jerad Wood.