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Another Survey, Another Reason Parents Will Pressure Their Kids into Accounting

Welcome back, people. Stuffed with watermelon mint juleps, fireworks and Klynveldian meats, most of you probably returned to full stomachs and fuller inboxes. That said, I hope your day is as painstakingly slow as mine (HR is a beautiful thing).

My morning news feed (i.e. Caleb’s morning news round-up) contained a story that is all too familiar – graduating college with an accounting degree is a safe bet. Of course. This report could have been 10 days or 10 years old; the song and dance would be the same. Consistently one of the best (meaning safest) bets for an undergraduate degree, the report from National Association of Colleges and Employers that, “jobs in accounting paid an entry-level salary of $50,402.” (It should be noted that – rumor has it – NACE pays a circus monkey to regurgitate these statistics EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.)

Not too shabby, 50 grand a year after college. This number obviously comes with a salt shaker, as those entering into a career in public need to factor in their location and the fact that the number is pulled upwards – at least to a degree – by private salaries. My beef is not with these numbers but with the parents, high school guidance counselors and university staff that use these numbers as a means to push their products on to naïve students. Alas, my list of Flakey Reasons You Should Be an Accounting Major:

“My (insert random acquaintance reference here) is an accountant, and he/she does just fine.” That’s wonderful for your barber’s cousin’s friend, but really the success of one accountant means nothing. Doctors are successful, as is the 15 year old kid bagging my groceries. This “Mr. Smith is successful” argument is generally used as a conservative reference to a job that is less popular. Quality of life is a relative term; so who’s happier, the produce bagger or the family tax accountant?

“You need to graduate with a degree that will earn you a job.” I understand this argument; however isn’t the point of college to study a subject which you actually like? Don’t get me wrong, I am all for being realistic about this, but the long-term consequences of studying a particular subject and focusing on an industry cannot be overlooked. This leads me to…

“You can work in any industry with an accounting degree.” I like Skittles. I am downright passionate about Skittles. Skittles are my life*. Is an accounting degree the only way to work for their producer, Mars Inc? Umm. No.

“You need a job to pay back your student loans.” No argument here, except for the one about overall crisis in higher education (you know, no big deal really). A recent poll showed 36 percent of college graduates are carrying student loan debt on a credit card. Sleep soundly knowing the remaining 64 percent of the group is simply burdened by lower interest rates.

But I digress. The loans should be considered a necessary means to an end (i.e. – finding a job and career of interest). If you’re majoring in a subject so you can pay down the debt…that you took on…to earn…said degree…you’re vastly missing the point of going to college.

*Don’t judge.