Where should I apply?
July 1, 2010 11:52 PM   Subscribe

Help me narrow down universities to which I would want to apply? Coming from a mid-MI community college, looking for programs that will lead to accounting careers.

I'm a community college student, at the start of my second year. I picked school back up last year after a 7-year break post-high school graduation. I'm doing the inexpensive general ed. thing and getting back to speed with math in particular (have just completed intermediate algebra).

I have taken my school's financial and managerial accounting courses. The related careers interest me (particularly forensic accounting), and I'm mainly interested in colleges that will help me enter the field. I am hesitant about business programs/degrees, though, and that seems to be the encompassing major for CPAs-to-be at many universities. I'm not terribly interested in marketing, business plans, etc. etc. My concerns are also about my growing impression that a bachelor of business is barely worth the paper it's printed on as far as getting a job these days, but my view may be skewed by horror stories at this point.
  • Is business school the right move if I want to be an accountant? I realize some universities have accounting programs separately, but from what I'm gathering, not all do.
  • Is the undergrad business school going to feel like torture to someone like me?
  • Do you have recommendations for universities that might work well for me?
Currently looking at applying to UM--Ann Arbor, UM--Flint, W. Mich. U, U. of Washington*, U. of Oregon*, U. of Wisconsin, U. of Minnesota. I'd like to expand/refine the list a bit. I have until the end of the calendar year to research and work on applications to meet the deadlines of some of the schools so I can transfer for the 2011-12 fall term. Since I live in Michigan already, I'm guessing financial aid opportunities will be better for in-state schools, but I'm willing to give out of state schools a shot and see what they say. Currently a 4.0 student, but again, it's just general ed. stuff.

I do have plans to see my school's transfer counselor soon, but I feel going to the meeting armed with some initial research will make it easier for both of us.
posted by asciident to Education (10 answers total)
Response by poster: Oops, some scatterbrained editing going on here. The asterisks were meant for a discarded sidenote about a Midwesterner applying to seemingly random west coast schools. I spent the first 26 years of life on the west coast and am familiar with UO & UW, so that's why they're on my initial list.
posted by asciident at 11:55 PM on July 1, 2010

You want to look for a B.S. in Accounting program, as opposed to a degree in business with a major in accounting. Even better, look for a five-year program that transitions you directly into a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) degree, which will get you the 150 credit hours that many states require to sit for the CPA exam.

Even within an accounting degree program, you'll have to take courses in other business disciplines (marketing, finance, management, etc.). It may seem like a waste of time, but developing an understanding of business functions is going to be critical for the profession.

Accounting, at least at the remaining Big firms and major regionals, is very much a structured industry, with the majority of hiring coming through internships and formal recruiting programs with universities. A good undergraduate accounting program will have strong relationships with industry, a formal internship program and annual activities to connect students with professionals.

AACSB, the accreditation agency for business schools, has a separate accreditation program for programs in accounting. It's extra hoops for a school to jump through, but is a fairly good carrot/stick to ensure that the school keeps the curriculum relevant and cultivates relationships with industry. That might be a good place to start developing your list of schools: https://www.aacsb.net/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=AACSB&WebKey=4BA8CA9A-7CE1-4E7A-9863-2F3D02F27D23.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 2:36 AM on July 2, 2010

Just curious why Michigan State is not on your list - it's in the AACSB list linked to by Sweetie Darling above, and you'd get in-state tuition.
posted by needled at 3:36 AM on July 2, 2010

Can tell you that UW doesn't have any financial aid (besides loans) for out of state students. Don't know about Oregon. You might also look at Ohio state schools - I know that OSU specifically will offer scholarships to Michigan students to match in-state tuition. Can't speak to which programs are strong in accounting or pre-accounting though.
posted by leslies at 3:47 AM on July 2, 2010

Response by poster: Sweetie Darling - thanks for the link. I'll definitely be reading through that.

needled - primarily because I hadn't thought of it :) I've only been in MI for a bit more than a year, so I'm not familiar with all the universities here.

leslies - good to know about Ohio State, but I'm curious about UW not offering financial aid to out of state students...
posted by asciident at 4:11 AM on July 2, 2010

Best answer: I definitely agree with Sweetie Darling that AACSB is where you should build your list from - I'd only consider schools that are at least accredited from them on the Business side (but preferably the accounting-specific accreditation).

Beyond that, plan to take some business courses - they really are an important part of an accounting education. Finance in particular will be helpful. You'll most likely want to get a masters because, as Sweetie Darling said, you usually need 150 credits to become a CPA.

I'm not sure if they exist, but you may be able to find programs specifically targeted to forensic accounting at the graduate level.

Regarding UW: I love UW and it was actually my top choice of schools I got into... but like leslies says, they don't give anything to out-of-state students. It ended up being cheaper for me to go to a private school than UW out-of-state.

Which reminds me, don't leave out private schools! They will always be more expensive on paper, but if you see some programs that interest you - apply. Private schools tend to have far, far more money for financial aid than state schools (especially need-based aid). Might not make it cheaper than in-state, but it is something to keep in mind.

Good luck!
posted by alaijmw at 4:28 AM on July 2, 2010

I disagree with alaijmw w/r/t private schools, at least in Michigan. Don't get me wrong--there are several excellent private schools in Michigan. But if you qualify for in-state tuition in Michigan, you are probably better off with a public school. For one thing, you are also more likely to find a program that could allow you to work and attend classes, and the programs themselves are larger, which has its downsides, but one positive is that courses often have multiple sections. The private schools with strong programs are usually tailored towards traditional undergrads.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 5:34 AM on July 2, 2010

Can tell you from personal experience - they have a limited pool of aid and we were told there was none available for out of state students. My daughter is a senior at UW - fabulous school.
posted by leslies at 5:41 AM on July 2, 2010

Certainly good points, Uniformitarianism Now! - I was just trying to get across that while private schools always look more expensive, they might not turn out that way. It will be almost impossible to compete with in-state, though, for sure. But, since the OP is considering out-of-state schools as well, I think he should at least think about private schools too.
posted by alaijmw at 5:49 AM on July 2, 2010

Response by poster: She. :) And while I'm nontraditional because I'm older, I do not currently work (hell, I live in MI!), so I'm perfectly able to attend whatever program a school might offer. Thanks for the advice, all. If anyone wants to offer more, feel free.
posted by asciident at 10:58 PM on July 2, 2010

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