My First Experience in the Nut House

Now that football season has come and gone, I needed a new sport to go to cheer on the Buckeyes. This past week I experienced my first basketball game in the “Nut House” watching Ohio State beat a ranked Iowa team. It was a close game most of the way with Ohio State pulling ahead at the end. It was a big win for the team since they are currently on the bubble of making it into the March Madness tournament.

The atmosphere at the game was amazing. I was able to sit along the

View from the student section

sideline just a few rows back surrounded by other students. We were all on our feet the entire game cheering on the Buckeyes. I even caught a free t-shirt they were throwing out during the game. I grew up playing basketball and went to all the games in undergrad so it was a lot of fun to experience a game while at OSU. I would add going to a basketball game as a must while at Ohio State.

Basketball games are played at the Schottenstein Center, which is right off campus close to the football stadium. Students can either purchase season tickets or just tickets for individual games. Basketball tickets go for a lot cheaper than football. I was able to get my ticket to the game for only $10. The students get great seats right behind the players and right in all of the action.

The Buckeyes started off the season ranked and have had a very up and down season so far. I am hoping that with a few more good wins they will get a bid into the NCAA Tournament. This year a few of the first and second round games of the NCAA March Madness Tournament will be played in Nationwide Area, which is downtown Columbus, so I’m hoping the Buckeyes make it and I can watch them right down the road in the tournament.

Taking on the CPA Exam

As you may know, there are four parts to the CPA exam, which you take independently of one another. The four parts in order of length from longest to shortest are Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG), Audit & Attestation (AUD), and Business Environment Concepts (BEC). First semester, I focused on adjusting to a new school, new city, and a new job as a graduate assistant. I knew that I plenty of time to prepare for the CPA before starting work full-time next fall, so I decided that it would be in my best interest to wait until the second semester to begin my CPA studying. 

Application Process

Due to the extensive application and Notice to Schedule (NTS) process, I applied about 6-8 weeks before I planned to begin preparation. Every state has a unique process for applying; the NASBA website is a great resource to learn about the guidelines and application process for the state you are sitting for. Since I will be working in Chicago, I am sitting for the Illinois CPA exam. The current rules require me to apply through the Illinois Board of Examiners.  Due to the high volume of applications in November, it took about 6 weeks for me to receive my NTS. Once I received my NTS, I chose the two exams that I wanted to take first.

I chose to take my exams in the following order: AUD, REG, FAR, BEC. I chose this order because AUD and REG are middle size exams which I knew would be easiest to study for while in school. Once summer begins, I plan to study for FAR (the largest exam) since I will have unlimited time. I chose to take BEC last because it is the smallest test, therefore if I do not pass all four before I start work, it will not be too large of a beast to tackle while working full-time. Everyone chooses the order of tests differently. I have seen classmates manage to study for FAR during school; the order in which you choose to take your exams really is a personal preference!

Study Plan & Tips

I am currently taking four classes and working 10 hours per week, so my study plan is a slower pace than it will be this summer. I am at a rate of approximately 15-20 hours per week of CPA studying, which equates to a little over 1 chapter per week.

Some days I choose to stay home and study in the comfort of my apartment, but I also love to study at libraries around campus. My favorite study spot is Thompson Library on the Oval. It is always full of other Ohio State students studying, so it is a prime environment to be productive. Almost every day, a group of students in the MAcc program reserves a room in Gerlach Hall to study after class together. I studied often with my friends in the MAcc program as we began our final review before taking our first exams. Regardless of your study plan, it is best to always make time for fun! Balance is the best way to get through something like studying for the CPA. For example, a group of us play trivia every Thursday night, and we are in an intramural volleyball league on Sundays. Like I mentioned in my GMAT advice post, never burn yourself out!!

GA Intramural Volleyball team!

Takeaways

The biggest piece of advice that I have taken from all of my mentors has been to FINISH THE CPA EXAM BEFORE YOU START WORK! Your year in the MAcc program is a great cushion to take the exams while in a learning environment. So many of your classmates will also be studying for the CPA which makes the processes much more enjoyable.

 

Tips for Virtual Interviews

Part of the application process for the Master of Finance, Master of Accounting, and Master of Human Resource Management programs involves completing an online video interview.  Here are some of my tips to help you ace our virtual interviews.

  • Look into the camera.  If you were in an in-person interview, you would look the person you are speaking with in the eye, right? Why not do the same for a virtual interview?
  • Pick the perfect spot.  Try to find a place that is clean, quiet, and comfortable.  We do not want to be distracted by people walking by you in the background or background noises.
  • Don’t drag it out.  If your response is shorter than the amount of time allocated for it, there is nothing wrong with ending the video! Don’t throw yourself off track by making the story longer than it needs to be.
  • Dress for success.  Dress as if you were going to an in-person interview.  Looking your best conveys the message that you are interested and prepared.
  • Test your technology beforehand.  Make sure that your browser is compatible with the interview platform.  Check to see that your voice is not too loud or too quiet.
  • Practice – Before you start the interview, make sure you have different ideas of talking points you would like to bring up to generic interview questions you may get.  Get the nerves out early!
  • BE HONEST & YOURSELF – This could be our only chance to get to know you before making a decision on whether or not to admit you into our program.  Be honest and genuine with your answers.  Let us know what you are passionate about and what makes you unique!

Best of luck with your application to Ohio State!

*Disclaimer : This is my personal advice to you and may not reflect the opinions of The Ohio State University as a whole.

How to Find Housing

After being accepted to a Fisher graduate program, the next big step is figuring out where to live. As someone who had never been to Columbus before, this was a big stress for me. I didn’t even know where to start, so I am here to help you out!

Columbus is an affordable city with many housing options, including plenty of places within walking distance or accessible by public transportation. The average one-bedroom apartment is around $700-$1,100 per month. There are on-campus graduate options, but it seems many students tend to live off campus. One thing to keep in mind is that most MAcc classes will be held in Gerlach Hall at the Fisher College of Business, which is on the very north end of campus.

Some things you should consider when doing your search is what kind of amenities you are looking for.  Some apartments have the option to be furnished, have a gym, parking or a shuttle to campus etc. I know for me, the apartment being furnished was a big factor during my search. I was only going to be here for a year and did not want to figure out a way to move it all out here. These along with price and location should all factor into your decision about where to live. A list of popular off-campus options is sent to all admitted students to help you in your search.

COTA bus stop directly in front of my apartment that goes right to Fisher

If you are choosing to live further off campus, there are many free or cheap transportation options available to you. With your BuckID, students can ride the Campus Area Bus Service (CABS) or the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) for free! When I am too lazy to walk, I take the COTA to and from campus and it drops off right in front of Fisher. Some apartment complexes also have shuttles to and from campus if you are not bringing a car. Columbus is a very accessible city with public transportation.

The university also provides great help in finding off-campus housing that fits your needs. Best of luck with your housing search!

Buckeyethon!

Buckeyethon is one of The Ohio State University‘s signature events each school year.  This 24-hour dance marathon is a fundraiser for children being treated in the Hematology/Oncology/BMT Unit at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  This year, Ohio State students raised $1,704,184.19 for the kids!

As a participant in Buckeyethon for the first time, I was amazed at how many Ohio State students selflessly sacrifice their time to fundraise money and dance for twelve hours on the weekend in order to promote awareness for childhood cancer.  My shift was the “Scarlet Shift” which ran from Friday at 7 P.M. to Saturday at 7 A.M.  My friends and I were placed on the green team.  Each color team had seemingly more than 100 members and had kids from the hospital to celebrate and dance with.

Members of the Green Team

There was more to do than just dance – I played dodgeball, mini-golf, “Gaga ball” and caught up with friends I had not seen in a while at the dance marathon.  My favorite part of the night was the 3 a.m. rave, where all of the students got together to dance under neon flashing lights in the Union Ballroom.

Buckeyethon 3 a.m. Rave

Overall, Buckeython was an amazing experience and I am so glad I made the commitment to doing it back in the fall.  I would recommend every OSU undergraduate or graduate student to take part in this event, as it is truly a great time and raises money for an outstanding cause.

Buckeyethon Kids Dancing on Stage

Expect the Unexpected

It is hard to believe I am already three quarters of the way through my time in the MAcc program here at Fisher. While reflecting on how rewarding this experience has been, I realized how much of this experience I underestimated. Don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to this year, but little did I know what it had in store.  Here are some things I expected from this experience:

  • I knew I would be taking accounting courses to achieve the necessary 150 credit hours to sit for the CPA, and have time to study for the exams during school.
  • I knew I would be working 10 hours per week in the Graduate Programs Office as a Graduate Assistant (GA).
  • I knew I would be living with another girl in the program whom I found on the 2018/2019 MAcc class Facebook page.
  • I knew I would get to officially be a Buckeye and enjoy a fall full of Ohio State football!

More importantly, here are some of the unexpected experiences that the MAcc program provided me with:

  • Growing my network by meeting students who will be working all over the country and the world.
  • Gaining new friendships with students who have similar career paths and goals as I do.
  • Having a blast with the other GAs whom I work with, and looking forward to going to work every day.
  • Taking courses and developing friendships with students in the MBA, MHRM, and SMF programs.
  • Playing intramural volleyball on Sunday nights with my fellow GA co-workers (Go Notorious D.I.G.).
  • Having a great support network of classmates/study buddies who are also studying for the CPA.

Moral of the story: your time in the Ohio State MAcc program is short but sweet—the MAcc program has so much to offer!

Tackling the CPA Exam

Many students in the MAcc Program are currently preparing for the CPA exam. We have heard horror stories about studying for the exam, and I am here to tell you it is doable to take while in class. This was a main concern of mine coming into the program because I want to have the exam done before I start working.

For those who don’t know, the CPA exam consists of four tests (Audit, Regulation, Business Environment and Concepts, and Financial Accounting and Reporting). To become licensed, you are required to have 150 credit hours. The rules on when you can sit for the exam and what classes are needed vary by state so make sure you check the rules for your state. Once you have the requirements complete, you can sign up for your Notice to Schedule, which allows you to sit for the exam. You do not have to take the exam in the state in which you are getting licensed.

While balancing classes and studying for the exam is difficult, it can be done. Currently, I am studying for the Audit section of the exam and plan on taking it soon. My main strategy is planning ahead and giving myself more time than I thought was needed. At the beginning of the semester, I wrote down all the due dates of assignments and exams in my courses and then planned my CPA studying around that. I gave myself an extra week than was needed, and am very glad that I did, as a schedule never goes completely as planned.

While I am definitely more busy, don’t worry—the CPA does not control your life. Between working, classes, and studying for the exam I still have time to go out with friends, be on intramural teams, and have time to do things I enjoy.

GMAT Study Tips

Learn how to BEAT the test: Strategy

Once I mastered strategy, the online question bank that my materials provided helped me apply that strategy, and I saw huge improvements in my metrics.

  • Explore various preparation resources and weigh your options.
  • A source with an online question bank is a helpful study tool because you can measure your improvement and take advantage of question repetition.
  • Find a resource that will teach you strategy!

Study Plan

Everyone is different! Creating a study plan that works for you is going to take some feeling out. Utilize your network and find out what worked for your peers. For me, I felt that repetition of multiple choice questions was the best way to study. The advice that I received prior to taking the test was to study 8–10 hours per week for at least eight weeks leading up to the test.

The first GMAT exam I sat for was in November of my senior year. Personally, I studied seven hours per week for eight weeks prior to that first test. I was enrolled in 21 credit hours that semester, so I was not in the best situation to prepare for a standardized test and did not receive my desired score.

It is OKAY to take the GMAT more than once. Most people do not get their desired score the first time.

The second time I took the GMAT was after a restful winter break. With a clear head, I focused on studying my weakest area of the test: Verbal Reasoning. I was able to improve my verbal score significantly, which subsequently improved my overall score.

Also, be sure to incorporate balance into your study plan! Even though my schedule was hectic, I made sure to set aside time workout and have fun with my friends. I didn’t let the GMAT keep me from playing intramurals.

My business fraternity’s IM volleyball team!

What to expect on test day

  • There is no calculator for the Quantitative portion on the exam (so don’t study with one!)
  • A laminated sheet and a permanent marker is available to work through problems, so I recommend studying with blank paper and a permanent writing utensil to simulate test conditions
  • Be aware that once you click “submit test,” your score instantly pops up on the screen!

Good Luck!

Snow Place Like Columbus

This January has been especially snowy at The Ohio State University (and around the country), which has provided students with opportunities to have fun in the snow! Our first snowfall in January was a big one, and so my roommates and I took full advantage by going sledding around campus using cardboard and makeshift plastic for sleds.

My roommate Nathan sledding down the sidewalk

I also was able to go skiing with friends at a resort just outside of Columbus. Ohio State offers discounted tickets to many different events and locations around Columbus, so we were able to get lift and rental tickets at a great price. Skiing as a beginner was challenging, but a ton of fun.  It’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things in order to grow! I am grateful to Ohio State and the MAcc program for providing me these kinds of opportunities to learn and have fun.

Skiing with my friends

One thing I love about the MAcc program is that all of our classes are in the same building: Gerlach Hall. This saves us from having to walk across campus to get to our next class. All MAcc students are provided a locker as well, making it easy to change out of those snowy boots into your business apparel! While the weather may be cold outside during the start of spring semester, our love of Fisher certainly is not.

My Spring Semester Classes

And just like that, we are already half way through our tenure as MAcc students here at the Max M. Fisher College of Business! After a long and relaxing winter break, I was excited to return to Columbus and reunite with my new friends and fellow classmates in the MAcc program. This semester, our schedules are completely made up of electives, and I am especially excited for three that I am enrolled in.

Visiting family in Chicago over break!

1. Fraud Examination and Misappropriation of Assets

I chose to take this elective because I knew it would relate to Audit, which is the service line I will be starting my career in. Little did I know it would already, just one week in, be my (and many of my classmates) favorite course. The course is taught by the chief risk officer for The Ohio State University who brings a unique perspective to the classroom. As part of the course, the professor brings in felons to openly discuss their past fraudulent activities.

2. Crucial Conversations

This course is one of the few electives that is a full semester (instead of a seven-week session). During this course, we have the opportunity of learning from an experienced businessman how to properly navigate crucial conversations in work and in life. This class will give us the tools necessary to successfully engage in conversations that we will encounter in our future careers.

3. Negotiations

Similar to Crucial Conversations, Negotiations is also a full semester course that teaches us tools that we will be able to utilize in all aspects of our lives. In this course, we actively engage in a negotiation once a week and learn skills that build upon themselves to strengthen our ability to successfully negotiate. I am looking forward to understanding the different components of negotiation and learning best practices through repetition.