Accounting Academy


From high school to the corner office.

The board of directors of the Tennessee Society of CPAs (TSCPA) runs a summer accounting program targeting qualified high school juniors and seniors.

The most important success factors were support from the Georgia CPA Society, the financial and personnel support of the TSCPA, and appointing a program director early in the process.

The program is scheduled over a four-day, three-night period, from Sunday to Wednesday. A broad industry group is involved, in addition to local public accounting firms.

An overwhelming majority of the attendees said the program increased their interest in accounting and that they would refer friends to the program.

Charles E. Frasier , CPA, CMA, is the Hilton and Sallie Dean Endowed Chair of Accounting, chair of the Department of Accounting at Lipscomb University, Nashville, and a partner of Frasier, Dean & Howard, PLLC. His e-mail address is . Susan Coomer Galbreath, CPA, PhD, is a professor of accounting and the Presidential Faculty Fellow at Lipscomb and Perry G. Moore , CPA, PhD, CIA, is a professor of accounting, director of MBA admissions and interim director of MBA studies, at Lipscomb. Their e-mail addresses are and , respectively. Contact Perry Moore with any questions about the program.

n the fall of 2001, the board of directors of the Tennessee Society of CPAs (TSCPA) posed the question: What more can we do to help attract the most talented students to the accounting profession? The answer: create a statewide summer accounting program targeting high school juniors and seniors. Here’s what we learned during the past four successful years.

Summer Accounting Programs

Twelve state societies offer three- to six-day summer accounting programs for high school students. The programs usually attract 20 to 45 students a year.

Source: Tennessee Society of CPAs.

The TSCPA’s first step in the fall of 2001 was to appoint a council member to establish the state’s first summer accounting program in 2002. Immediately, the TSCPA staff began laying the groundwork for the program by contacting the Georgia Society of CPAs (GSCPA) to gain information about its “High School Residency Program.” The GSCPA helped answer questions and provided copies of marketing and application materials. We established a steering committee in November 2001 to help plan and implement the first program.

Next, the TSCPA selected a university partner for the program. The chart at right highlights important guidelines in the planning and execution phases of the initial program.

The TSCPA selected Lipscomb University as the university partner because of its central location in the state and support services available. Then we moved on to more crucial decisions.

Who will be the program director? We selected a Lipscomb University accounting faculty member to serve as program director. The director’s responsibilities include collaborating with the steering committee to develop the program agenda, arranging lodging facilities for the participants, operating within the allotted budget, managing program activities and communicating with TSCPA staff.

Who will be invited to attend? Initially, we opened the program to all high school juniors and seniors who were Tennessee residents. In later years a few sophomores also were accepted. Applications must include a personal statement, academic performance data (class rank, ACT/SAT scores and GPA) and reference letters from teachers and guidance counselors.

Approximately 100 students have applied each year and 70% of those accepted actually attend the camp. No attendance limits were initially established; we expected that between 50 and 75 students would attend.

When and where will the program be held? One advantage of partnering with a university is the access to classrooms and dorms—but be aware that many universities have summer programs that reduce the supply of dormitory space.

The summer program has been held in July except for the 2003 program, which had to be rescheduled to June due to university conflicts with other summer programs. The date change did not appear to significantly affect attendance or program scheduling.

How will the program be funded? The TSCPA offers the summer program at no charge to participants. Total cost over the past two years has averaged $310 per person. Funding was provided by the TSCPA’s general fund (57%) and donations from accounting firms and chapters (43%). TSCPA staff also solicited sponsorship assistance from Tennessee CPA firms and TSCPA chapters. Fourteen firms and two chapters provided assistance in 2005. Sponsors’ logos are printed on the camp T-shirt and in promotional materials and packets given to students. Sponsors also are recognized in the TSCPA journal articles and press releases. Some local chapters also provided transportation funds to students from their area, usually in the amount of $50.

The program is scheduled over a four-day/three-night period, from Sunday to Wednesday. To view the 2005 program agenda, see exhibit 1 and exhibit 2 . Students are responsible for their transportation to and from the program (all transportation during the program is provided). Sunday evening is devoted to meeting students and their parents and a short orientation session that includes the AICPA DVD “Takin’ Care of Business.” After a panel session on Career Opportunities in Accounting, a short lecture on financial statements and their use in decision making and an accounting case project are presented. The 2005 accounting project required students to work in groups to help fictional high school friends who had started a sports/cheerleading camp account for its business activities.

Morning sessions typically are devoted to on-campus presentations while afternoon sessions include off-campus visits to local corporations, public accounting firms and other sites. Most off-campus visits are hosted by the company’s accounting staff and showcase the many opportunities in accounting. Over the four years, such visits have included health care, professional sports, music/recording, retail, food services, manufacturing and financial services companies. After dinner students work on the accounting case project and have free time to watch movies, play outside or socialize with other participants. Each student gets a certificate of attendance at the conclusion of the program.

The cost per person for the four-day/three-night schedule has ranged from $310 to $329. See the chart below for a breakdown of the costs for the 2005 TSCPA program.

The communications plan included getting the word out to students, high school personnel and TSCPA members. We mailed information packages to more than 1,600 high school administrators and business educators, including a cover letter, wall poster , tentative agenda, application form, request for names of prospective students, student information and consent form, parent/guardian consent form and guidance counselor information form.

We also promoted the program through the Tennessee CPA Journal, e-mails, the TSCPA Web site and chapter meetings, and information packets and postcards for individual CPAs to distribute during presentations to high school accounting and business classes. These visits were part of the TSCPA’s High School Liaison Program, in which CPA volunteers partner with schools across the state, participating in career days and giving classroom presentations on personal finance topics and accounting career opportunities.

Looking back, several special components helped make our program successful.

Student essays. The application form asked for a short essay on how the students expected to benefit from the program. This helped the steering committee evaluate each candidate’s interest.

Refundable security deposit. A $25 security deposit was required to reserve a spot in the program. Even though it was refundable, this deposit offered some assurance the applicant would attend.

Recommendations. Students must submit a personal recommendation from a school official (a guidance counselor, principal or teacher). The program makes every attempt to admit at least one student from each high school that has an applicant. The written recommendations from school officials and students’ grade point averages became even more important for those who had not taken the ACT or SAT or who came from schools that did not formally rank their student bodies.

“Goody” bag. Each student receives a bag of donated promotional items from the TSCPA, Tennessee universities and local firms and companies, such as flashlights, notepads, pens, key chains, calculators and T-shirts.

For more helpful hints, see exhibit 3 .

In 2005, 73% of the students accepted attended the camp; the percentages were 58% in 2002, 72% in 2003 and 74% in 2004. Almost 50% of the attendees each year were from the middle Tennessee area where the program was located, which is a drive of two hours or less. Two-thirds were female, which generally represents the male/female ratio in college accounting courses.

We’re proud to say 100% of the 2005 attendees said they would refer their friends to the program and would attend the program again if they were eligible. The majority also expressed an increased interest in accounting. All 142 attendees of the 2002–2004 programs were surveyed; 38 responded (a response rate of 27%). Of those, 50% were either current college students majoring in accounting or high school students anticipating a major in accounting. An additional 18% were majoring in a related field, such as finance or business.

For more program statistics, see exhibit 4 .

The success of the TSCPA’s summer accounting program is best measured by evaluations from students who attended. Participants made the following statements after attending the program:

“I never realized accounting was involved in so many things. I’m glad I was able to see many different work atmospheres.”

“If anyone has any interest in business or accounting, they must attend this program.”

“Getting to meet so many people who love their jobs has helped to influence my future.”

“More professions should have camps like this one so that those of us getting out of high school can explore more professions.”

Practical Tips
Start your planning early in the academic year.

Identify a state society staff liaison and university champion quickly.

Be flexible and try to anticipate potential challenges.

Select presenters and off-campus visits carefully. Go to fun and exciting places. Expose participants to energetic role models.

Plans are well under way for the 2006 program, to be held July 9–12 (the agenda is available through the student section of the TSCPA Web site, ). The AICPA’s “Takin’ Care of Business” DVD includes a profile of a Tennessee CPA and the 2005 program participants visiting her business location.

A possible extension of our program might target high school educators, an idea suggested by several high school educators attending a TSCPA symposium. In the meantime, the TSCPA will continue working with high school students to find high-quality program candidates who will become the future of the profession.


Takin’ Care of Business CPA iPACK
The Takin’ Care of Business CPA Information Package (iPACK) (# 872530JA) contains the Takin’ Care of Business DVD, the education handbook, two career videos, three interactive games, 25 career guides, bookmarks and a poster.

To order contact the Institute at 888-777-7077. iPACKs are $20, and quantity discounts are available.


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