Anyone who takes the Certified Public Accounting exam in Wisconsin must have 150 credits. That generally means five years of college.
But at Lakeland College, Brett Killion, assistant professor of accounting, has devised an aggressive but realistic academic blueprint that allows students to graduate with their accounting degree in three years — and sit for the CPA exam in four.
"With college costs increasing each year, and with students becoming more and more conscious of how much college is costing them, we want to give the more motivated students the option of getting their accounting degree in three years," Killion said. "And earning 150 credits in four years is also a realistic and viable option here at Lakeland."
For bright, ambitious Lakeland students like junior Daniel Fochs, Killion's plan has great appeal. Fochs, from Appleton, Wis., is on pace to graduate with 150 credits in 3 ½ years.
"I've had a great time here at Lakeland, but I'm ready to move on and start my career," says Dan, 21. "I'm ready to put everything I've learned here to good use."
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Dan got a head start toward his degree when he loaded up on advanced placement classes at Appleton North High School, then successfully "tested out" for 16 general education credits before ever taking his first class at Lakeland.
He took on a full load of 18 credit hours his first semester, and was off and running. An internship beginning in January with Schenck SC in Appleton will count for 12 credits, in addition to giving Dan real-world experience in his chosen field. During his 15-week internship, Dan will also take an advanced accounting class online, and will drive back and forth to Lakeland twice a week in spring to take a Fraud Investigation II class.
Despite his heavy course load, Dan says his life is balanced. He works 10 hours a week at the campus coffee shop, the Daily Grind, and finds time to play cards and video games with his friends. As for sleep, he says, "I get about seven hours a night; it's not bad at all."
Killion's plan includes some spring and summer work, and three 18-credit semesters, but the first semester of a student's freshman year is comprised of just 15 credit hours, as are the final two semesters of a student's senior year.
"It was easier to put together than I thought it would be," said Killion of the plan. "One thing I really like about Lakeland is that we give students the flexibility to take classes on the ground, online or in the summer. That flexibility gives our students a better opportunity to complete this plan."
Dan's dad and older brother are both accountants, and Dan was intrigued by the fraud/forensic accounting emphasis offered at Lakeland. "Down the line," he says, "I'd love to work in the area of white collar crime."
Coming out of high school, Dan looked at a few schools, but felt most comfortable at Lakeland.
"The friendliness, the family atmosphere and the one-on-one attention from professors stood out," Dan says. "I didn't feel that at other schools. There, I felt like I was just a number and that they just wanted my money."
As for his fast track toward graduation, Dan says, "It's surreal. It feels good getting closer and closer to my goal."