February 14, 2020

Hundreds of students set to compete at SIU’s 2020 Accounting Challenge

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Hundreds of high school and community college students from throughout the region will be competing for scholarships, trophies and the chance to best their peers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s 22nd annual Accounting Challenge on Feb. 21.

Sponsored by the School of Accountancy in SIU’s College of Business, the event features both individual and team competitions.  

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover the 2020 Accounting Challenge team competition on Feb. 21. It will take place from about 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Student Recreation Center’s small gymnasium. The awards presentation will be at about 1 p.m.

Two-phase event

The Accounting Challenge begins at 9 a.m. in the Student Recreation Center’s small gymnasium with the contestants completing written tests that assess their accounting knowledge and skills. The students who earn the highest score in the accounting I or advanced accounting divisions will receive certificates and scholarships worth up to $500 if they attend SIU and major in accounting.

Then, about 10:30 a.m. the team challenge starts and that’s when things really kick into high gear. Working in small groups, the participants will take on a unique challenge, putting their problem-solving skills to the test. The challenge is devised by Larry Busch, an emeritus SIU School of Art and Design faculty member. The goal is to engage the teens in fun, thought-provoking contests that encourage collaboration, creativity and ingenuity.

Creative competition

The challenges vary each year. For instance, one year each group received a couple of paper folders, a paper plate, a four-foot strip of masking tape and scissors. Their goal? To create the tallest free-standing tower. Another year, participants joined in a wild human version of the popular “Hungry, Hungry Hippos” game.

The 2019 competitors faced a whole series of tasks, including building a paper airplane that would fly a specified distance and stacking nuts with a stick as quickly as possible. It required teamwork, strategy and determination.

There will be trophies for the winning schools and for individual members of winning teams.

“Professor Busch will be bringing his own supplies this year, so the team-building activity won’t be revealed until the day of the competition,” said McKenzie Mohring, a Masters of Accountancy student from West Frankfort.

 Mohring, along with Rachel Perez, a junior accounting major from Carpentersville, and Emily Hillis, a senior accounting student from Jacksonville, are the 2020 Accounting Challenge coordinators.

More than 20 schools involved

About 350 students from 21 high schools and two community colleges around the region will  take part in this year’s event. It will conclude with the awards presentation at about 1 p.m.

Although contestants can claim scholarships, trophies or certificates, the Accounting Challenge is a winning experience for participants in more ways than that, organizers say.

It is an amazing opportunity for high school students to informally get acquainted and network with SIU students and faculty and to learn more about the university and the accounting profession, Hillis said.

All participants will also claim free commemorative T-shirts.

Growing event

Every year for more than two decades, students have made the trek to Carbondale to compete in the popular event, some traveling up to 100 miles to do so.

“The SIU School of Accountancy is thrilled to be hosting the accounting challenge once again.  With some 350 students coming, it continues to grow each year and provide more benefits to every single student,” Perez said. “It gives the students a unique opportunity for guidance to success.”