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Should More Undergrad Programs Include CPA Review In the Curriculum?

We've got another winner for you guys from CPA Practice Advisor, though this one at least suggests something very reasonable: should undergrad programs better prepare future CPA candidates for the CPA exam?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in the field of accounting will continue to grow throughout the decade. As a result, competition for top jobs will remain tough. Many colleges do a great job offering internships and other hands-on opportunities for students to learn vital skills in the field.

Few, however, make it a curricular priority to actually include the review and test preparation process needed to pass examination and obtain licensure as a CPA. For students seeking the most out of tuition dollars and time spent in school, it seems like a strategically beneficial move for colleges and universities to infuse curriculums with the specific test prep knowledge and review needed to pass the CPA licensing examination.

OK. These are pretty broad assumptions. Many colleges DO make CPA exam prep a priority – take Wake Forest or James Madison University for example. Their grads consistently rank near the top nationally in pass rates and that is no fluke. Or you look at a school like Golden Gate University in Northern California that partnered with my former employer to provide third party CPA exam review as an option for its students. Many schools all over the country do the same thing with other CPA review programs. Colleges should already be preparing their students for the CPA exam by teaching the basics of accounting, if they are failing at that, the additional of CPA review in the curriculum will not help.

Let's not forget that most new hires can get their CPA exam review materials paid for by the firm. So it doesn't necessarily make economic sense to pay for a program in school out of pocket when one could potentially have the cost of a review course covered by an employer shortly after graduation.

Alright, back to that article:

Through the 2nd quarter of 2012, the failure rate for any given section of the CPA exam is approximately 50%; generally professionals are out of school for a number of years before taking the exam though. Some trends reflect otherwise for enrolled students who take the exam actively as a student.

Again with the broad assumptions, WTF. Where did they get this figure that "generally professionals are out of school for a number of years before taking the exam though"? Show of hands, how many of you were done with the CPA by the time you were 25? 24? 23 even?

Moving on:

It makes perfect logical sense for students both undergraduate and graduate to take the exam while enrolled as this is the time of the education where resources are most readily available.

Um… on what planet does that make "perfect logical sense" (which must be different from illogical sense somehow) to sit for the exam while still in college? You need a bachelor's degree to sit for the exam in MOST states, if not 150 units. Isn't college enough to handle? So yeah, not sure where that makes sense but it isn't on planet Earth. There is a reason the state boards of accountancy have agreed upon similar requirements, one of which is usually a minimum of a full 4 years of education. Junior accounting students do not possess entry level knowledge and that is exactly what the CPA exam tests.

I'm not even going to bother going through the rest of this article, it's just not worth it. Should colleges put more focus on preparing their students for the CPA exam? Yes. Do the resources already exist for many college students? Yes. End of story.