AICPA Launches New Web Site for Students

As part of its marketing program to increase the number of students majoring in accounting, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is publicizing several Web sites for students.

A new Web site, StartHereGoPlaces.com, provides information for both high school and college students. The information ranges from how to get scholarships to how to earn the CPA certificate and the various career opportunities available to CPAs. This site also includes a business simulation game called BizzFun that allows students to manage budgets in selected industries. If successful, players of BizzFun are promoted online, e.g., from financial analyst to controller to CFO. Another Web site, BurlyBear.com, allows college students to complete a short essay to win a "Dream Internship" valued at $10,000. This site is publicized by advertisements on the "Burly Bear" television network and contains a link to StartHereGoPlaces.com.

AICPA says the next stage of the campaign will begin in September when databases and electronic feedback will allow it to continuously assess the effectiveness of its programs.

Responding to the Taylor Report

The marketing campaign responds to research findings in the Taylor report. This report identified the reasons why the percentage of high school students planning to study accounting has declined 75% over the past 10 years, leading to a 50% decline in the number of college students who major in accounting. The reasons:

  • Students have a negative perception of accountants. They view accounting as tedious, number crunching, isolated activities involving taxes and money.
  • Many students are unaware of the profession. Those who think they know what a CPA is often equate CPAs with "tax preparers."
  • Students view the accounting major as limiting their career options, and they view the career opportunities within the profession itself as being limited.
  • Not all high schools offer accounting courses. When the courses are offered, they are often remedial (i.e., bookkeeping) in nature.

By stepping up to the most common misperceptions, the marketing campaign attempts to create a more positive awareness of the CPA profession.

-Rosemary Schlank

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