Becoming a Volunteer Income Tax Assistant

Each year, the Master of Accounting Program organizes the Volunteer Income Assistant (VITA) program to help local individuals file their Federal and state income taxes. We, as volunteers, go to a site twice a week to help individuals who have made appointments.

Most of the tax preparers are either enrolled in the MAcc program or undergraduate accounting students. In order to be certified to help file taxes, we need to pass at least four different exams.

The VITA program not only helps the public to file their taxes for free but also helps our students to apply  in-class knowledge to the real world. It prepares our MAcc students to be more comfortable communicating with the clients and to improve various “soft skills” which are necessary when we start our professional job.

It is definitely rewarding to see what you prepared then get approved– and, in some cases, result in tax refunds deposited to the clients’ accounts. It was a little more difficult when clients would have tax due, meaning that they didn’t have enough tax withheld during the year and they needed to pay the IRS out of pocket. We needED to be very careful about how to deliver the message.

Besides the VITA program, the MAcc Council also organizes other community service events to do our best helping the local organizations and to take part in fun activitiesin and around Columbus.

After Submitting the Deposit, What’s Next?

Happy late Valentine’s Day & Happy Lunar New Year!

This is the time of year when many incoming MAcc students have received their acceptance letters and paid the deposit to the MAcc program— and are now wondering what should be done next.

My suggestion is to focus first on finding housing: a good apartment and roommates, if applicable. The good news is that Columbus and surrounding cities have a lot of housing options– and many options are low cost.

After you’ve paid your deposit, you’ll soon receive emails regarding housing information. You may choose either on-campus housing or off-campus housing. OSU’s on-campus housing options are all fully furnished, but limited in availability. Therefore, apply as early as possible if you’re interested.

The price range of an off-campus one-bedroom apartment varies, but I think it’s about from $650-$850, depending on the location of the apartment, whether or not it is fully furnished, and the surrounding community. OSU has put together a very helpful webpage with a list of off-campus options.

Along with the housing email, you should expect to receive several other emails regarding how to purchase Buckeye football tickets (a must-do activity at least one time while you’re here), class registration, and orientation details. You’ll be kept in the loop all spring and summer so that you can start on a high note when you begin the program.

For now, relax and take pride in your admission. See you in the fall!


Application Tips for the MAcc Program

As a graduate administrative assistant and student ambassador, I serve as one of the primary contacts that students will reach out to if they have any questions. Winter is usually a busy application season, so I’d like to share some tips with you. These tips go beyond what you probably already know – grades, references, test scores, and your essays are all important. Here’s some more information to consider:

  • Talk to the admissions office

Personal connection is always important whether you’re applying for admission to an academic program or for a job. The more we talk and email, the more we know about you and understand your background and goals. We are here to help. Remember that when the Fisher admissions committee makes its decision on applications, it not only bases its decision on whether we think you’ll “fit” the program but also whether we believe the program can provide what you’d like to get out of it.

Have questions? Contact Dan Kieffer, Recruiting & Admissions Coordinator, for the Master of Accounting program.

  • Do Your Homework

It’s important that you know what you want before you apply to any graduate program. Do research on your end and determine if the Fisher Master of Accounting program is the right program for you. The admissions office can tell right away if you’ve done your research when we are speaking with you. Realizing you’ve done some research on your program indicates that you have a strong interest and can help you to stand out from the candidate pool.

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Asking questions is a good sign that indicates your interest and can lead to some helpful conversation for both the admissions team and for you. However, be sure to look through the Frequently Asked Questions page to see if your question has been answered there. You are more than welcome to ask any specific questions and we usually reply within two business days.

Hope those tips are helpful. Good luck!

My Winter Break

It’s always nice to travel back home and see family during breaks. My hometown, as mentioned in the previous post, is located in northeast China which means it’s freezing in winter.

I got several texts from my friends during the break– saying was cold in Columbus. I didn’t text back anything other than this screen grab…

Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang Province, China

Mudanjiang is not the city that I was born; I was just there during the winter break. I know I am crazy. When most people travel to some places warm in order to stay away from the cold winter, I actually stepped into a freezing locale. This city is known as the “snow village”; because of the location of the city, during winter time, it snows almost 24/7. However, I do admit it is very pretty, just like I’m in a fairy tale.

Snow Village

 Harbin, my real hometown, is known for the International Ice and Snow Fest.

Harbin, Heilongjiang, China

 If you are planning to visit, make sure you’re bundled up and your phone is fully charged because when your electronic devices are exposed in such a low temperature, the battery tends to die very quickly–like in 10 mins.

See You Next Semester

Time flies.

I doesn’t feel like my first day at Fisher was a long time ago, but we’ve actually gone through half of the MAcc program already. From the first day of orientation, August 14th, to the last day of class in the autumn semester, December 6th, we’ve all done some incredible work.

I still remember all the projects that we had done (and sometimes, all the frustrations they brought us). Nevertheless, all of us finished the projects well and we all learned something.

Now that I’ve been here for awhile, I can tell you that being a graduate student is a lot different from being an undergrad student. Everyone in the program is very self-motivated. We work a lot more efficiently as a group. Since the program is heavily case-based and group-based, having good interpersonal skill is very important. But it’s fun! From what I can see, everyone in the program is enjoying themselves and our groups; most of us met new people and got to know a lot of new friends.

The spring semester will start on January 8th. But when we come back to campus, we will not see the KPMG students anymore. I was talking to some KPMG students the other day and he said he met (and befriended) more non-KPMG program students than he originally expected. I was glad to hear that, but also realized that– unlike me– he would be leaving soon and coming back for the summer term to finish up his degree. It’s a unique program.

Time for me to relax over break. See you in January!

MAcc end of autumn semester reception

Can’t believe that we are already halfway through our MAcc program! Last Friday, the MAcc program hosted a dinner reception and invited all MAcc students, their spouses and children, as well as MAcc faculty and staff. Some of the MAcc students are involved in a unique partnership between Fisher and KPMG where they won’t return for spring semester but will be back in summer to finish the rest of their program. I was surprised by how sad I was when I realized that there were only about 10 days left with them.

A photo with our program director, Professor Zach.
MAcc students
Dzung Vu and me

One of my favorite memories with them centers around our Financial Reporting class, one of the core classes of the MAcc program. Just like the other classes, we self-selected our case group and came up with a name for it–“My Favorite Group.” Whenever the professor called on us, he would always say “Let’s go to ‘My Favorite Group’.” Some of the students didn’t realize that it was our group name until they confirmed with us. Here’s the group:

“My Favorite Group” — Financial Reporting Class

I, as well as other students, will miss them a lot. So, guys, come back for a visit soon!

Hotpot on A Cold Day

As an international student who has been studying abroad for almost five years, homesickness is not an issue anymore. However, I still miss the food from back home. One dish that my family usually has is “Hotpot,” a traditional Chinese dish which is usually eaten on a cold day. Similar to the Korean BBQ, you need to “cook” it yourself, but it’s worth the time and effort.

Homemade Hotpot

As you can see in the picture, Hotpot is literately a HOT POT. It’s very easy to make it. I usually buy the pre-made soup paste from an Asian grocery store. You can include whatever you want to eat: meat, vegetables, or noodles. No matter your choice(s), you boil the ingredients into the soup paste. I also make my own dipping sauce which is sesame sauce mixed with a little bit soy sauce and oyster sauce.

Here are the ingredients that I have for your reference if you want to replicate a Hotpot as above:

  1. Hotpot paste (available at any Asian Store)
  2. Slide beef
  3. Fish ball & fish tofu
  4. Bacon
  5. Shrimp
  6. Frozen tofu
  7. Napa cabbage
  8. Cilantro
  9. Fried tofu
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Lotus root
  12. Noodles (tips: put the noodles in last, otherwise your stew will be very thick.)

Hope you have some good homemade Hotpot!


MAcc Council Fall Fun Event

MAcc Council is a student-run organization which helps students to improve their skills such as time management, communication skills, and event plannings. The Council also works closely with the MAcc program advisor to invite company executives to give presentations to MAcc students as well as help MAcc students to build their professional network.

But there’s also a fun side to the Council! Last week, Council organized a fall event for all MAcc students to take a break from busy school work and go to the Lynd Fruit Farm.

The weather that day was super nice, it was a good way to release all the stress from school work or job searching. The farm has corn mazes, apple picking, a market, and other interesting diversions.

From left to right: Taylor Holden, Dzung Vu, and Courtney Privette. All are MAcc students Class of 2018. (photo credit: Yilin Hao)
Marqus Moye, current MAcc student, Class of 2018 (photo credit: Yilin Hao)
From left to right: Dianru Nie and Jasmine Wei, MAcc students, Class of 2018 (photo credit: Dzung Vu)

The corn mazes were the most fun. There was one designed for kids and one for adults. The latter was pretty big and in order to succeed, we had to collect the stamps that were hidden in the corn maze. The paper that Dzung and I are holding (see below) is the proof that we got all the stamps!

It was definitely a good way to do exercise if you are as lazy as I am.

From left to right: Dzung Vu, Caitlin Duke, Dianru Nie, Jasmine Wei, and Kalen Hess. All current MAcc students, Class of 2018 (photo credit: Yilin Hao)

Looking forward to the next MAcc Council event!

 Hey, My Friends: You Did Great!

This is my fifth year studying in the U.S., so I am more used to living on my own than most students who are here for their first time studying abroad. As I recall my first year in the States, I think about the hardest experience and it wasn’t studying for exams; it was celebrating the holidays and festivals by myself.

In China, people use both the solar calendar, the calendar that the U.S uses, and the lunar calendar, the one that most of the Chinese festivals are based on.

The most recent festival was the Mid-Autumn Festival which was on October 4th (the solar calendar date). The Mid-Autumn Festival is very similar to the Thanksgiving Festival here in the States that all the family members are expected to attend. For this festival, we eat mooncakes and of course, share life stories.

In order to celebrate the festival here and relax from the busy school work, I drove my friends to a local Asian grocery store to buy some mooncakes. The first thing that we noticed was a well-packaged mooncake gift box. The logo name on the box was very appealing. It was named “COME BACK HOME.”

A strange mix of emotion came to us when we saw the box. It was hard to describe the feeling at that moment. On one hand, we were heavy with stress from our different course assignments, projects, and notes to get us ready for the coming exams– and submitting tons of resumes and crossing fingers to get first-round interviews. On the other hand, we saw these bright, golden characters–COME BACK HOME– that reminded us of how far away we are from our families. Just like the needle that bursts a balloon, some of my friends could not hold back their tears.

But I celebrate their journey and all the hard work they’ve done to succeed in this new country. And I want them to know: hey, my dear friends, you did great!


Jobs Vs. Grades? You can have BOTH

One of my favorite parts of the MAcc program is its unique program structure. It squeezes so much knowledge into nine months and allows the time to meet recruiters and find a full-time position. Keep reading for some helpful tips!

MAcc follows a semester system which means we have 15 weeks for each semester excluding the finals week and a three-week Christmas in between the two semesters. The interesting part of the MAcc program and some other business-related specialized graduate programs is that within each semester, we have two separate sessions. The idea is that these sessions allow the students to have breadth (choosing from many subjects) and some subjects don’t necessarily require a full semester.

In the MAcc program, most of our courses are case-based and group-based which means you need to invest a lot of time with your group members to come up with a final product. Make sure you can manage time wisely, but leave some time for yourself to relax and search for jobs.

You’ll need it– because recruiting season for accounting starts in the fall. Most of the companies accept resumes in early and mid-September, then start the first round interviews in the late September and second round interviews in mid-October. To prepare yourself, I HIGHLY recommend taking four courses in your first session and five courses in the second session in the fall semester. That way, you’ll have more time to prepare for the interviews and informational sessions held mostly in the first session. Otherwise, you may end up with three interviews and five final exams– all happening in the same week.