Succeeding Without an Accounting Degree

Part of my decision to apply to the MAcc was to challenge myself academically. I studied broadcast journalism at a school known for a demanding and cutthroat culture, but I never felt challenged the way I do daily at Fisher–perhaps because journalism is an inherently easier subject than accounting.

The MAcc attracts many students with non-accounting backgrounds and places them into successful accounting careers after just 9 months of coursework. How? Magic. No, not quite. Make no mistake– there are situations where I can tell an accounting degree would be helpful, but it’s more than possible to do well in this program without one.

My non-accounting undergrad means there are many concepts I’ve never been exposed to being taught to me at the graduate level. Intimidating? It can be! (I will admit: the day that Professor Arya started talking about derivatives, I felt a chill go down my spine.) The key is to put forth a strong effort and take the right steps to ensure success:

  • Meet with professors: All the professors in the MAcc program are more than willing to meet with their students. Many have flexible office hours. It’s better to seek additional help than to drown in new material. Make sure to have made an effort with the concept or problem before the meeting; this will help maximize the time spent.
  • Form groups with students with accounting degrees: I’ve made sure my groups have at least one person who studied accounting at the undergraduate level. Sometimes, a classmate can help clear up a concept or explain a different way to solve a problem.
  • Don’t get frustrated with the learning curve: There are some topics in accounting that won’t make sense at first, or even after several days. As a perfectionist, it’s easy for me to get frustrated when something doesn’t click right away. But I know that I should eventually understand the concepts, even if it takes a few extra hours.
  • Embrace the challenge: It would be a stretch, if not downright inaccurate, to say the MAcc is a cakewalk even for the strongest accounting undergraduate; I know because I’ve asked classmates who were strong accounting undergrads if they feel challenged. Students here want to be challenged. And you should, too. I’d much rather work hard than breeze through life.

There are about 2 weeks left in this 7-week session of classes. Though this is the hardest I’ve ever had to work in school, I’m enjoying the process, and look forward to performing well on finals.