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BW takes aim at accounting workforce shortage with high school outreach

In sneakers and jeans, professor Dan Schrag is dispelling the myth that accounting is "boring" and leading the charge to burnish the profession's image as "the language of business" with big career potential.

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As part of his outreach (here at North Ridgeville High School), BW accounting professor Schrag starts out with a sports scorekeeper analogy and goes on to showcase the variety of business paths available to accounting graduates.

There probably aren't many youngsters who dream of growing up to be an accountant.

But, Baldwin Wallace University is betting that many high school students can grasp the appeal of a profession that boasts more job openings than applicants, along with robust starting salaries and broad business career applications.

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"Accounting graduates from BW's Carmel Boyer School of Business usually entertain multiple offers and a comfortable starting salary range as employers actively recruit their talents," explains BW accounting professor Dan Schrag.

"There simply are not enough students earning bachelor's or master's degrees in accounting to make a dent in today's employment demand."

In fact, the CPA Journal, billed as the "voice of the profession," calls the current shortage in qualified accounting graduates a "crisis." 

Accounting appeal

To address the widening gap between employer demand and accountants, Schrag has initiated a high school outreach program to showcase the promise of the profession. He connected with high school teachers and has been a guest speaker in multiple classrooms, sometimes taking along current BW accounting majors. 

"I usually start by talking about sports and the importance of knowing how to keep score to enjoy a sport.  Then I explain that accounting is like the scorekeeping of business."

"Most students light up when I tell them that accounting majors can make $30 per hour in an internship and earn $60-$70,000 to start right out of college," Schrag says.

"Accounting is generally recession-proof," he continues. "There are a lot of factors that make the profession appealing: Lifetime financial stability, solving problems, finding fraud, starting a business, traveling. An accounting degree can lead to all of these things." 

Dispelling the math myth

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BW accounting major Grace Roberts '25 recently accompanied professor Dan Schrag to speak at her former high school.

"Some students say they don't want to study accounting because it's 'too much math' — but there is very little hard math in accounting," Schrag adds. "Learning accounting is more like learning a language like French or Spanish than learning calculus. A detail-oriented student who likes solving problems like sudoku or crossword puzzles will likely excel at accounting."

BW accounting major Grace Roberts '25 recently accompanied Schrag on a visit to Kenston High School.

"Speaking at my former high school with Professor Schrag was an opportunity to give back to my alma mater and share with them the great opportunities that accounting is creating for me," Roberts says. 

So far this academic year, Schrag has visited 14 high schools and reached more than 650 students. 

On campus experience

BW is also staging a high school accounting competition on campus next month.

With support from four accounting firms — Ernst & Young LLP, Cohen & Company, Pease Bell CPA and Plante Moran — BW will bring high school students together on Friday, April 19, for a competition that will engage them in brainstorming ideas and solutions for current questions in the profession.

For more information on the competition, contact Dan Schrag at dschrag@bw.edu.

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