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Law School Graduates In Large Supply and Short Demand


Cap graduate, gavel and book on a white backgroundLaw school has become a less attractive option for college graduates since the beginning of the recession. There are the traditional deterrents: it is expensive, difficult, time-consuming and it can try one’s sanity. These factors, however, do not explain the steep drop in law school applications. The Washington Post recently reported that the number of individuals applying to U.S. law schools has declined in each of the past three years. Only 55,760 people have applied to an American Bar Association-accredited school as of May 17—a 13.4 percent drop from 2012.

The Causes

There are two primary reasons behind this phenomenon. Many people are still suffering from the effects of the recession. Going to law school is now a luxury that goes beyond the means of many Americans. The most prestigious law schools charge well over $40,000 a year for tuition. This does not include living expenses and housing. Consequently, law school graduates end up with a six-figure albatross around their necks in the form of debt. For the ambitious person who obtained a law degree to boost his or her value on the job market, rather than to practice law, the cost has become too high. The University of Michigan’s Career Center advises potential law school students to apply only if they want to be lawyers.

The second cause is also recession-related, but has more to do with the number of people who graduated from law schools in the 2000s. The large number of law school graduates and a stagnant economy created the perfect storm for a lawyer glut. A whopping 91 percent of law school graduates found employment in 2007, according to Time Magazine. That number dropped significantly in 2009—only 65 percent of graduates had obtained a job for which they needed to have passed the bar. A love for justice, a small business credit card and an office the size of shoebox is the alternative for those who need to go into business for themselves.

The lawyer glut resulted in a famous lawsuit in New York County. A number of New York Law School graduates sued their alma mater because they felt they had been lied to about their job prospects upon finishing law school. The students’ lawyer, David Anziska, argued his clients were led to believe that 90 percent of graduates found work in the legal profession, The New York Times reported. This turned out to be a disingenuous statistic, as it really meant that 90 percent of graduates simply found work. It didn’t matter if they were employed at a law firm in Manhattan or a Starbucks in Brooklyn.

How Bad is the Job Market

The job market for new lawyers is so tight that the judge from the aforementioned case acknowledged that he had not seen such a severe contraction in the demand for legal services since the early 1970s. Graduates are in high supply and short demand. This means that salaries are far lower than they once were. A listing found on a site for Boston College Law School graduates was offering a $10,000 annual salary, Time noted. Another “opportunity” discovered by the website, “Above the Law,” has a firm that plans to charge recent law school graduates a monthly fee to get the experience.

Students should only enroll in law school if they are truly interested in law and justice. The large salaries are no longer guaranteed and neither is the job security that came with a JD degree.

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Oil and Gas Accounting Provides Job Opportunities for Bean Counters


Students of accounting are often surprised to learn about the controversial aspects of the field as they become more familiar with the nuances of the curriculum. The differences in oil and gas accounting practices demonstrate two seemingly contradictory approaches to both theory and practice, which provides a rich learning opportunity for students and other accounting professionals interested in advancing their understanding of real-world applications in their field.

“Successful Efforts” vs. “Full Cost” Methods – a Brief History

Relative to “cash flow” and “net income,” best practice protocol indicates that companies need to maintain consistency and transparency in accounting methods, but how to accomplish this goal can differ based on theoretical principle and practical application. When investors analyze potential holdings for cash flow and net income, knowing how to compare companies becomes complicated due to differing accounting methods.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) sets Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) within a framework of public interest. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adapted the not-for-profit FASB’s methods for accounting as the standard for all public U.S. companies since the early 1970’s. However, within the leadership of the group there is disagreement about the best practice method for accounting in the oil and gas industry, so two methods are acceptable, namely the “Successful Efforts” (SE) method and the “Full Cost” (FC) method.

Comparisons – Similarities and Differences

Although an in-depth analysis of both methods can be extremely complicated, there are general points of comparison that astute students in accounting will find intriguing. First the similarities: in both the SE and FC accounting methods the acquisition costs, or those items or property acquired to get the drilling started, are both capitalized, meaning those costs are reported over time; in both methods, the production costs are subtracted against profits periodically (typically quarterly); also, on-going development costs are figured into long-term asset figures in both methods.

One major difference makes comparison between companies a little more challenging and intellectually interesting when the accounting methods differ from company to company. For companies using the SE methods, “intangible” costs are generally figured into periodic (quarterly) earnings. An “intangible” cost involves a less quantifiable aspect of business, such as losing teams of employees because of seasonal weather challenges, which might also factor into the production level of workers who continue to work with weather related issues affecting their home life. As such, these costs are often estimated based on previous experience.

Meanwhile, the “tangible” costs in the SE method are divided into those that successfully yield product and those that do not. The tangible costs, like buying or renting earthmoving equipment which yields to successful results (i.e. finding gas and oil deposits), are capitalized while those that do not yield product are added to the operating expenses associated with intangible costs. This effectively means that profit or loss can be carried over an extended period of time making it difficult to assess total profitability of an organization compared with another who may assess profit and loss somewhat differently, such as in the FC method where all tangible and intangible costs are balanced over time.

Implications of Accounting Differences in Overall “Best Practice” Methods

Exploring key factors in the similarities and differences of the SE and FC methods for gas and oil accounting underscores two educational challenges worthy of classroom debate, namely how differing accounting practices affect the comparison process of investors interested in understanding overall profitability of two potential establishments; and, in the theoretical and ethical aspects of the field as it relates to transparency in best practice accounting protocol. As if that is not enough to consider, students researching gas and oil accounting processes will also find that the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) developed the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in the late 1980’s “best practice” accounting methods. These were widely adapted in companies outside the United States and currently work parallel to those accounting methods established by U.S. entities. Among European countries, accounting practices and protocol vary among companies and countries.  In recent years, global industry leaders have been working toward increased standardization.

Conclusion

As the example of differences in oil and gas accounting practices demonstrates, professionals who understand the historical and current complex nuances of gas and oil accounting in an increasingly competitive global marketplace will remain in high demand. As the global market intensifies, competition and eco-minded consumers, as well as industry leaders, continue to demand a greater accountability and transparency in gas and oil accountability. Job outlook indicators show that becoming a CPA will be a benefit in the decades that follow as these are the types of professionals that thrive in detailed accounting environments. As movement continues toward a more cohesive and widely accepted accounting standard in the oil and gas industry, accounting professionals who can demonstrate the acumen necessary for excellence in a global marketplace will continue to gain the competitive edge necessary for career longevity across industries and throughout the world.

Furthermore, even though many industries are reporting slow growth, if any at all, the accounting and auditing sector shows promise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) projects a growth rate of 16% between 2010 and 2020. In terms of employment for accounting professionals, this equates to 194,000 more jobs coming available. Though CPA salaries will vary depending on education, location, and additional credentials, it can be expected that performing as a CPA in the field of oil and gas accounting will yield salaries which are higher than average.

Today’s guest article is provided by Grant Webb of Bisk CPA Review. Grant writes and reports on accounting career development as well as strategies for helping CPA exam candidates pass all 4 section of the Uniform CPA Exam. For more information you can reach him on twitter @biskcpareview and on FaceBook.com/biskcpagroup.

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Decisions, decisions: Make a thoughtful degree choice to launch your career


When it comes to earning a college degree, is it the field of specialty that matters or just the degree itself? Many are inclined to believe employers only want you to have earned a degree, regardless of major, and that professional work experience trumps your field of specialty when it comes to applying for job. To be sure, having a degree in hand is the most important goal. It’s always possible to change careers later and abandon your body of education and work experience for a new profession. There’s no way, however, to know what’s coming around the turnpike. When you’re in the process of earning a college degree, it’s foolish to earn your major in a subject that doesn’t directly contribute to your professional goals.

Pursuing your field of choice

Think about this: If you don’t want to major in your given field while in college, what makes you think you want to spend 30 or more years working full-time in that industry? By choosing a major unrelated to your desired line of work, you’re placing in front of you a slew of unnecessary hurdles. Employers will always ask why you chose a certain major, such as philosophy, when all the while you were set on working in information technology. When you’re a fresh graduate hitting the job market after graduation, you’ll constantly be at a disadvantage when going for jobs against fellow recent grads who took the time to major in a related field.

Making a worthwhile investment

In today’s slow economy, is earning a degree for fun a wise use of time and money? Studies have shown that, in general, earning a college degree can lead to earning substantially more than others who fail to complete their studies. Whether or not that proves to be the case in your particular circumstances is beside the point. A college degree is a considerable asset that will carry with you through not only your professional career, but your entire life. It’s common sense in some ways: If you want to be an engineer, a degree in that field is much more practical and promising than one in business or the arts. Consider supplementing your major with a minor in your desired “hobby” field, allowing you to enjoy your education while still getting a worthwhile return on your investment.

Determining the best major

For some people, finding a major is a challenge all its own. Take time to research your options and determine what professional fields are a good fit for you. Talk to people who work in the industry or who are alumni of the degree programs you’re considering. You might even take career aptitude tests to determine which fields are a good match for your personality, interests and strengths.

A college degree shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a decision that could change the course of your future. You don’t want to make the mistake of wasting your time earning a degree that will fail to boost your professional aspirations. As college costs continue to rise, it’s ever more important for prospective students to think about what they want and whether that education is worth the time and financial and psychological investments. In order to get the value you seek, prepare to do a little research and a lot of contemplation before you register for classes.

Today’s guest article is provided by Joseph Baker.

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College Graduates: Broke & Living at Home (infographic)


I recently came across an infographic (provided by the good people at College@Home.com) that shares some sobering statistics about recent college graduates. A significant portion of the numbers paint a bleak outlook for college students. For example, one statistic states that 1 in 4 graduates move back home after college. The infographic attributes this outcome to high amounts of student debt and lack of employment opportunities.

I know that recent college graduates are not being handed job opportunities on a silver platter but do you really think the situation is as challenging as presented below? Take a look at the numbers and feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below…

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How To Start A Small Business Right Out Of College


Many college graduates want to set up their own small businesses instead of applying for a normal job and getting paychecks monthly. Is it good to start your own business venture if you have little experience in the real business world? Statistics have shown that eight out of every ten new businesses fail within their first five years. So, as a fresh undergraduate with little to no work experience, how do you prepare for starting your own business? Hopefully the following tips will help.

Failing to Prepare Is Preparing to Fail

Before you even gather funds for your start-up, you need to have enough knowledge and experience in the field you are getting into. It is a good idea for college undergraduates to get started working in a company with a business model similar to the one they want to start. This way, they can gain real life experience, network with others, and get paid while doing so.

Financing Your Small Business

Unless you are a trust fund baby, an established entrepreneur with a solid track record, or you have an idea worth millions of dollars, getting investors to invest in your new venture is almost impossible. If you don’t have much start-up fund for your project, you should try to work a side job while you gather funds for the small business venture. Applying for small business loans is also advisable, but don’t take for granted that your application will be approved. There is much competition in every business loan program, and the chance of you getting the loan may be minimal.

If you have relatives and friends willing to lend you money, you could ask for help from them. But most of the time, you will need to gather the start-up fund on your own.

How Do You Know If the Business Is Working?

It takes new businesses a few years to start making money. As a business owner, you should watch each step carefully and take note of all the changes in your business cash flow. If things seem to be wrong, you have to ask yourself if the problem is with the way you run the business, or if the business idea itself is flawed. If the business idea is flawed, you should try to get out as fast as possible to save yourself. If the problem pertains to the way you run the business, it is best to hang in there and try to fix it.

If you are struggling with your new business, do not be afraid to ask for help from outsiders as well as colleagues in the same industry. You will gain new knowledge and experience networking with people in your industry. You can even use online resources to help solve the problems and get your new business up and running. Do not be afraid to fail. It is important that you learn from your mistakes and never make the same mistake twice. Once your business is established, the rewards could be unlimited.

Author Bio:

Today’s guest article is contributed by Charles Ronson. Charles is a freelance business writer. He has extensive experience in consulting with small to medium sized businesses. His articles appear on various small business blogs. Visit Wonga Business to see how they assist small businesses.

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