Accounting challenge grows as recruiting tool

By Ahmad Hicks, @AHicksSports_DE

The School of Accountancy’s first Accounting Challenge drew just 23 students, but this year 323 students are registered for the event.

Inclement weather has delayed the challenge—which was originally scheduled for Feb. 20—until March 20.

This event started in the fall 1998 and is now held in the spring to accommodate high school and community college students, said Marcus Odom, a professor in accounting.


Scott Polczynski, a graduate student in accountancy from Du Bois, said he and the accounting challenge coordinators target Illinois, but also try to involve schools from Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky. 

Polczynski, who runs and maintains the event, participated when he was in high school and has helped the program since his freshman year at SIU.

“It helped influence me to come to SIU because I could tell that the School of Accountancy truly cares about its students and potential students by going through all of the effort of coordinating the Accounting Challenge,” he said.

The School of Accountancy uses this contest to show students the campus as well as what its accounting program has to offer. This is the accounting school’s biggest recruiting strategy, and gives students a chance to win scholarships.

The scholarships are provided through the Accounting Circle, a group of alumni who help fund this program. Each year the Accounting Circle gives $4,000 in scholarship money.

Odom said the event is broken down into three categories—Accounting 1, Accounting 2 and Community College—in which the students will take a quiz of 65 questions.

After the quiz students are broken up to do team activities, where they are led by Larry Busch a retired SIU professor.


Busch said he has been involved in the challenge since it started, and now helps encourage the participants.

“My jobs are challenging the students to think and stretch their imagination through various team-building activities,” Busch said.

All scores from the team-building activities are calculated and added to the scores from their quizzes. The individual with the highest quiz score can earn a $500 scholarship.  The second and third place winners can earn between $200 and $400. 

A team trophy is awarded to the schools with the highest score in the team-building activities and other door prizes like gift cards for the SIU bookstore are available.

A former participant of the challenge, Marisa Broz, a graduate student in accountancy from Flora, knows how important this challenge can be for some students.

“If I did not attend the accounting challenges while I was in high school, I would not be where I am at today,” Broz said.  “Over the years, I realized it was a stepping stone in planning my future.”

Broz participated in this event for three years before coming to SIU, learning how to better understand accounting. Her first year she said some of the test questions seemed like a foreign language.

“Over the years, the test became easier and the fundamentals we were learning in classes really began to sink in,” Broz said.  “It improved my abilities both in accounting and teamwork. 

Polczynski, a past winner of the accounting challenge scholarship, said this challenge is for any student with an interest in accounting.  Of the students that attend the challenge every year, Polczynski said about one in five students end up coming to SIU.

“It gives students the ability to get a taste of SIU and what it has to offer,” Polczynski said. 

It is free for the schools and provides students with breakfast, lunch and a t-shirt.

Ahmad Hicks can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AhicksSports_DE.