Today, I got an email that my cap and gown are ready to be picked up! Even though there is still
so much work left to be done, the finish line is starting to come into focus. The key to making it
this far has definitely been organization. This month, I want to talk about how I’ve juggled
classes and now CPA study.
Summertime and the Living’s Far From Easy
The best piece of advice I can offer incoming MAC students is to take advantage of summer
classes if at all possible. I took two classes each in five week sessions: Accounting and Tax
Research, and Advanced Auditing. I’ll be honest, it was pretty rough taking these challenging
classes at such a fast pace. I spent several hours, five days a week studying. But it really paid
off when I was able to take one less class each semester. That may not sound like much, but it
makes a huge difference.
Choose Your Own Adventure
In the fall, all MAC students take mostly the same classes together, which is great because it
gives us a chance to get to know everyone and build camaraderie. This semester however, two
of my four classes are electives. In choosing your electives, you have the option to pick anything
that interests you from a wide range of classes, or you can go with a preset group of classes that
make up one of three concentrations. If you know you’re going to work in tax, Tax Strategy is
the concentration for you. Otherwise, you may want to choose either Information Technology or
Enterprise Risk Management.
The great thing about the concentrations is that you are not locked in to your decision. I
originally planned to pursue the IT concentration and took an IT class in the fall. When spring
rolled around, I was really interested in taking the Personal Financial Planning class, so I decided
not to have a concentration after all. It’s nice to have the chance to try different things and find
out what you like.
A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish
As I mentioned, summer classes allowed me to have a slightly lighter schedule than many of my
classmates. Unfortunately, I’m not using the extra time to catch up on missed Netflix. Now I fill
my time with CPA prep. The program has a recommended study schedule and will even provide
Becker CPA Review for you if your future firm doesn’t. While many of us are following a
similar test schedule, the plan that is right for you is a personal decision.
I used the vacation time between the end of summer session and fall semester to study for and
take one exam. I then studied over the winter holiday and took my second last month. I’m now
studying for my third. For me, it was really important to get started right away. You never know
when your new job may want you to start. Several of my classmates are finding out they are
being asked to start earlier this summer than they thought. Also, the CPA exams are notoriously
difficult, with pass rates near 50% for each of the four tests. Even the most prepared test-taker
should be prepared for a potential retest.
Everybody’s circumstances are different, but whatever timetable you pick is less important than
just having a plan and sticking to it. I’d like to write more, but it’s time to get back to studying!