Wade G. Becker, Regional Managing Partner
Choosing a college can be a strenuous process if you do not begin with an adequate amount of lead time. So start as early as you can when performing your due diligence. In my opinion, there are a few things to consider:
Quality - Ensure that the educational institution has gained a quality nationally recognized accreditation of their business program at a minimum. A nationally recognized accreditation of their accounting program is a plus. The state university I attended had their college of business accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Their accounting program was not accredited but had a good reputation that allowed me the opportunity to interview with national accounting firms which further me to begin to build a solid career resume when I graduated. A distinguishing factor with my resume was that I had earned adequate credits through my universities' program to be able to sit for the CPA exam. I would highly encourage anyone thinking about an accounting career to be positioned to be able to sit for the CPA exam when they graduate from college.
Cost - Be reasonable with what you and/or your family can afford. I cringe when I hear of students who attend a prestigious college that is very expensive and then drop out after a year or two because they feel it is too costly or that they do not want to accumulate more student debt. It is better to get a degree from a lower cost school than end up with no degree at all. If you have to utilize loans as a way to complete your degree, keep in mind that not obtaining a degree makes it even more difficult to pay off student loans after college. My degree is from a state university and I have had and continue to have many people working with me and reporting to me that spent significantly more on their education. While the prestige of the institution may have some bearing on obtaining the first interview of your career within a select few organizations, the dedication, work ethic, and responsiveness to your career commitment will be more important than the prestige of the educational institution that you attended. If there is an organization you are intent on working for before you enter college, inquire of their human resource department and see if they have certain educational institutions that they exclusively recruit from. Most accredited accounting programs do not have a shortage of good job opportunities for their graduates who have a solid GPA and are well rounded in their extra-curricular activities.
Fit - Pick an educational institution that fits your personality within reason of cost. Do you like large classes? Do you like the city? Do you like rural settings? Do you want to be able to see your hometown friends and family often? Does it have an active campus community? Does it have active extra curricular clubs and intramural sports? The list is endless, but consider these points. Never choose a college solely because someone else has went there or a friend is going there......choose it for yourself and the fit it has with your values in life.
Once again, start early in your research of educational institutions and look for quality, a balanced approach to cost, and ensure the educational institution fits you personally. This approach with most likely lend itself to picking the right college for yourself.