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Just starting the process (any advice?)

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Just starting the process (any advice?)  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jun 2017, 05:32
Hey y'all! So I'm starting my senior year this fall ('17) and unless something drastic happens should be graduating w/ a BS in accounting Spring '18 and would like to start my MAcc in Fall '18. I thought about posting here a few months ago when I first started having to actually think about my future ( :shock: ) but it didn't seem super active, but after reading through some of the more recent posts and even the 2016 posts I'm hoping maybe I can get some advice.
I haven't taken the GMAT yet (scheduled for August 2nd) but my profile so far is:
Profile:
GPA- 4.0 CC (AA) 3.16 University (so far) 2.86 Accounting (B, B+, B, C, B)
GMAT-
Experience- 1 semester internship at a local tax place while I was at the CC, currently tutor the intro to accounting classes at my school

I currently go to a smaller state school (FGCU), I grew up near UCF and so seeing like the largest school in the nation as I grew up and knowing people who go there now who have 300+ people in their jr/sr level advanced science classes I went in kind of the complete opposite direction lol. The only problem is that since I go to a smaller-med sized school (~16,000 UG I think?) we don't have much in terms of recruiting when it comes to bigger firms. I wouldn't even call it regional as in if you go there you could be employed somewhere in FL, it's if you got your master's there you'd get a job somewhere within like 3 specific counties in Southwest FL, either w/ a small local place or we have the HQ for Chico's and Hertz and that's about it. I didn't really know what I was doing whenever I chose that school, I just liked the smaller class sizes, knowing your professors, not having a party atmosphere, campus life, etc. I don't have anyone in accounting in my family like a lot of my classmates do so I didn't even know OCR from larger firms was a thing until I was talking with a professor I knew at UCF. Because of this I don't want to stay there for my master's, I'll apply as it wouldn't be the end of the world to go there, stay for a while, and then get to move back to central FL, but it'd be like a safety school.

With all that said I don't really have (super) ambitious ideas about grad school. Tbh my biggest reach is UF, potentially USF if I can get my accounting GPA back up to a 3.0. I'd like to apply to ~5 schools, all public and in state for cost sake. I'm thinking UF, USF, UCF, UNF, and FGCU. UF is the only one where I can find the stats easily on their website, I've been in contact with all of the other universities but most didn't have the admissions or employment statistics even when I directly asked for them. UCF would be nice because I could live at home, I'd think UNF would be decent because it's in Jacksonville which is our biggest city and has a large amount of business. I know some people who go to USF and they've had really good experiences. This all kind of depends on my GMAT too, if I end up with like the bare minimum required for UF then I probably won't waste the thirty bucks.

So I know I have a sub-par GPA and all but I'm wondering, what can help me make up for it? I'm going to be spending my sr yr as an officer in a superior chapter of Beta Alpha Psi (reporter, on our campus once you're an official member you don't have to maintain the 3.0, so it happened right in time for me). I'm not sure if it's okay to play this card anymore but I started dual enrollment at 16, got my AA at 18, and should have the BS right after I turn 20, profs are still impressed by the age but I don't know if admissions people would find that compelling. I don't have a great excuse for the accounting gpa, I was taking those first upper level classes during my first year away from home, in an apartment style dorm, with 2 super messy girls and one kind of almost clean one, and I came from a really clean house so I was spending a lot of time my first semester basically being a mom. During the first semester one of my roommates also decided midterms would be a great time to OD, and returned from the hospital with a list her mom made of things we "couldn't" do or else she'd get upset again. I mean I know dealing with all of those things is part of growing up which is why I'm saying I don't have a "good" excuse as to why my grades are sub-par, it's just frustrating that like one bad test will keep you from an A.

I do have 5 accounting classes left though, so I can bring it up, but most of the accounting profs at FGCU take their job of gatekeeping really seriously and having a 3.0 accounting GPA isn't super common, let alone some of the ones I see on here like 3.5+. (For example our tax 1 class, which is required, started with like 40 people, got to 20 by the end. Our test avgs were usually in the low 50's, there was never a curve or anything. No one got an A in either section of that class this past semester.) I'm thinking the best way to remedy that is to get letters of rec from profs who can then talk about how the program is challenging. So for this who should I target? I was thinking one from my very first accounting prof at the CC who I took intro to financial with, just because she loved me and that may show that I liked accounting right away and it's what I clicked with best. UF requires at least 2 more, should they both be from school? I have a class this fall w/ our department chair, so I'm thinking of like hopefully cozying up to her and asking her, and then I have a class with a prof who was dean of our business school for a while as well as our department chair a few years back (he's basically retired now, he does like 2 classes), would these be good people to get letters from? Or should I try and have some more personal ones that show who I am outside of the classroom?

Basically TLDR (I'm sorry, I can't communicate online, texting, whatever, w/o rambling. I promise my AWA won't be this disjointed)
~ What can I do to make up for my bad acct gpa (other than obviously bringing it up)
~ Should I reference tutoring anywhere in the applications? (I'm thinking of it maybe as like "if you can teach it it means you really understand it" kinda thing?)
~ Does the graduating young/started college early card still work for grad school?
~ I know besides UF the schools are all unknown but what would y'alls school suggestions be
~ Who should I target for recs?
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Joined: 09 Mar 2017
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Concentration: Accounting
GMAT 1: 730 Q48 V41
GPA: 3.64
Re: Just starting the process (any advice?)  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jun 2017, 13:22
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Hi Studyeagle,

For both your experience tutoring and your starting college at a young age, they’re not necessarily something that would matter much to an admissions committee unless you do the work of framing why they should matter in your personal statement. Some schools also have a section for “anything else we should know about you” that gives you a chance to tell them more about you outside the space limit of a personal statement, or explain extenuating circumstances.

You said in another thread that the reason why you were able to start college so early was because you dual enrolled throughout high school. Mentioning that shows that you are motivated and ambitious, and that you learned how to manage your time well.

If you feel that it’s true, you could also use the age to explain the lower GPA once you transferred to a 4 year college - that is, if being younger you struggled more to adopt to dorm life - the mothering situation you describe with your roommates there doesn’t sound healthy, and perhaps a few extra years to emotionally mature would have helped you avoid that situation or not let it interfere with your schoolwork as much. The roommate ODing in particular sounds like above and beyond normal “stuff everyone just has to deal with as part of growing up,” again especially given your age. So, actually, yes, that is something that would count as a “good” excuse as to why your grades are sub-par that could be good to bring up (carefully) in a “anything else you want us to know” section.

As for tutoring, having any work experience on a resume (and, yes, most Macc programs will ask for a resume) is a bonus. Beyond that, if you can incorporate why that experience matters into your personal statement, that will go further in getting you admitted. Saying something like (again, only if you feel this is true for you) that through teaching, you developed a deeper understanding and appreciation of the material. Having to explain materials to others in ways they would understand helped bring your understanding of accounting beyond wrote mechanical things like writing credits and debits in the correct columns, to begin asking why the procedures are set up the way they are, to begin asking bigger picture questions, like why a company would choose to use LIFO instead of FIFO, e.g.

Recommendations: Yes, your intro financial professor from the CC seems like a good choice. Then maybe a prof from your current school as a second reference - you want at least one person whose knowledge of your academic capabilities is more recent. Yes, either the department chair you’re taking class with this fall or the dean of the business school would be good. Between the two of them, just pick whichever one seems to know you better/seems able to write a better letter. Honestly, that would likely be the dean of the business school since you’ve already taken more than one class with him. You want to ask profs for rec letters at least a month before they’re due, so probably late October? - and your dept chair might not know you well enough by then. Then for your third letter, you could also use a boss or superior, if you have one who knows you well and who you’re still in touch with, from your internship at the tax place. That will strike a balance of accounting-specific letters and more personal-letters.

More ways to counterbalance your low GPA: extracurricular involvement, especially if your school has an accounting club or something similar. Volunteer or community service experience (Could you do some free tutoring for underprivileged students or something like that?). If you can bring your (accounting-specific) GPA up with summer or fall classes whose grades would show before applying in the fall, yes, that would help, too.

Target schools: I don’t know anything about schools in Florida, but one way you could start figuring this out is looking up firms in Jacksonville or other cities you might want to live in, going to the “student” page of their “careers” section. Many of them will have information about if and where they do OCR or if they accept resumes directly from non-OCR candidates. Look for a “campus events” or “campuses we recruit at” page. And/or go to the schools website and see if they say where people have accepted jobs recently, or who comes to their campus for OCR. That should help you build a list of what schools would be able to interviews where you want.

-V.
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New post 21 Jun 2017, 13:42
First let me say thank you so much for responding! I know this forum is a bit dead compared to the rest and there are posts from years ago with no response, so I'm ecstatic someone took the time to read my rambling and reply with their own long message!

So I should've worded my first post better, I was planning on kind of tying in the dual enrollment and maybe tutoring into the personal statement. I'm not sure if being a little young for these classes is the reason why my gpa is poor, or if I just peaked in school to early, but DE has shaped me and being the youngest in class throughout college has been kind of defining in its own weird way, so that was definitely going in there. What you've put as a suggestion for tutoring is completely true, which is why I was wondering if I should include it or if it isn't enough of a "real job" to include even though it technically deals with accounting. I think I may incorporate that somehow because I do feel like if you can explain something to someone else it helps your own understanding of that thing grow, and also tutoring experience may look good when they decide who gets offers to be grad assistants.

For extracurricular, what would you suggest? Like my OP says I'm an officer in Beta Alpha Psi, which is like the accounting honors society, idk how into it accounting majors are on a national scale but I know in FL everyone says that's something you *have* to do basically. I'm also in my school's Accounting Society club, which is basically BAP w/o requirements to join. I know our student gov president and she's already said whenever we all go back in fall she'll help me get more involved in campus (most of the campus outreach last year was only done in freshman housing/freshman orientation so I missed it and by the time I was like "Hey! That sounds fun!" it was too late) should I look out for more administrative types of involvement like student gov or things that show it's not just about the academics like more creative clubs? I do volunteering over summer (FGCU actually requires a set number of service-learning hours to graduate) but do you think I should try to find things closer to school to volunteer for? I think our school does that free tax program (I think it's called VITA?) where students in BAP and accounting society go to some training and help with taxes for underprivileged locals, would that be a good volunteer thing to do since it's relevant to accounting? Or do you think admissions folks are looking more for people who do more than JUST accounting/business related stuff?

Thanks for the advice on schools! I didn't expect for anyone to know a ton about FL, especially our smaller schools, but that's a good way to figure it out!I know FGCU has a list of people who recruit on campus but I'd forgotten about it, so I'll try and look up lists like that for the other schools in FL. That's a great idea.

And actually I have an additional question now (sorry), for Fall '18, if the majority say that applications are due over summer (places I've looked at are May (1), June (1), July (2), and Aug (1)) for non-priority when would you say to still apply in Fall '17? I was thinking more like winter break (so Dec-Jan). The places with priority deadlines are more in Jan, and May, and some of them don't have priority deadlines listed on their websites.

Thank you soooo much!!
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Concentration: Accounting
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Re: Just starting the process (any advice?)  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jun 2017, 15:51
Sounds like you’re on the right track figuring out how to approach your application materials.

As for tutoring: Yes, I think eventually it will end up getting kicked off your resume for not counting enough as a real job once you’ve had more accounting specific jobs. But you can think about the resume that you submit to get in to the MAC programs as slightly separate from a resume you would use when applying for jobs. Some things might count more for one rather than another. If you haven’t already done so, I’d suggest making a “master resume” for yourself that keeps track of dates and descriptions for everything that might ever go on a resume for everything you’re applying for, so that it’s just a matter of copy-pasting things that are more or less relevant for specific jobs. As you note, the tutoring experience will continue to be more relevant when you’re applying for TA/teaching jobs, and less relevant for accounting in the future. For now, since you’re just starting out, I’d say the tutoring job can stay on even when you’re applying for your first/second accounting internships and jobs once you’re in a MAC program. But once you’re in a program, they’ll have a career development staff to help you out with those decisions.

A lot of recruiters/accounting firms will explicitly say that they only want to see a one page resume. Different firms and different fields have different ideas about this. I think it’s more okay to go on to a second page for your admissions resume, unless the program specifically says they don’t want a second page. And the tutoring should stay on for as long as it doesn’t push you over the one (or two) page limit. Any job that shows that you’ve developed job skills that might transfer to what you’re applying for, even if it’s not quite in the same field, is something recruiters will want to see. Tutoring has made you a better accountant; it’s probably taught you to productively engage with people with different learning styles and personalities from your own and improved your communication and presentation skills. That’s all stuff that matters to employers, even though you’re not doing it in an accounting-specific job. And especially for admissions, it’s probably confirmation that you have the quantitative and accounting-specific chops to do well in their program. Heck, I tutored differential equations and that’s on my resume still when there’s room for it and it’s even less arguably accounting-specific. At this point in my life/career (32, humanities and math undergrad, lots of odd design + teaching jobs, trying to transition to accounting now), the tutoring is one of the first things to go if I need to squeeze something more important onto a single page resume. But it’ll be awhile for you, I think, before tutoring “doesn’t matter enough” compared to whatever else you’ve done that needs to fit on one page.

Extracurriculars - it sounds like you’re already doing pretty well in that direction. If you can get involved in the free tax program or anything else volunteer-related that comes up, yes, that’d be good. For admissions folks, extracurriculars help set you apart from any number of applicants who may be similar to you on paper as far as major/GPA/GMAT/etc. There tends to be a lot of collaboration and teamwork in business/grad school. The admissions committees like to put together a group of people with different backgrounds/experiences/interests. A lot of the learning in grad school comes not just from the professors and what happens in the classroom, but from engaging with and working with your peers. So anything that can show that you’d have something to offer to your classmates, that you’re a motivated ambitious person who has interests outside of school will help. Employers also care about that stuff (although maybe slightly less?) because, well if they hire you, they have to work with you. They’d like to work with nice, interesting people. The more that you’re doing activities that you enjoy, that you’re invested in and can talk about genuinely, as opposed to just every club that you think you’re “supposed to” be in, the better. That might not always show on paper, but it will show in interviews. So, yes, being in BAP is great. But if there’s one other thing you can do that is not JUST accounting/business-related, something that is specific to something that matters to you, that you’re interested in, that would also help. That could still be the business-related volunteering, or something random like being in choir.

(Sorry, I went to a weird tiny 1000 person liberal arts college with no business school, so things like BAP are kind of foreign to me, but I’m sure they wouldn’t be to most people here/to admissions committees/etc.)

Application dates - At least for the schools that *don’t* have priority deadlines, there’s no single right answer to this. Obviously, for any school that does have a priority deadline, you want to make it. But for the schools that let you apply as late as spring/summer 2018 for starting the program in fall 2018, it’s okay to wait longer. A couple things to consider - you might not want to draw out your application process for that long either for your own sanity or for your recommenders. Usually once you click submit on your applications, the school will email your recommenders asking for either a letter or for them to fill out a form on their website. It’s easier for your recommenders (and therefore likelier that they will write better, more timely letters) if those come in batches and not like one or two in December for the priority deadlines and a few more spread out throughout the spring. It might be the case that you think you could put together a significantly stronger application by waiting a few months, then yes, make sure to get the priority ones done by their deadline (~Dec 17/Jan 18?) and wait a few months to do the rest, perhaps to line up with USF’s March 1 deadline. Those couple extra months would give you time to get your fall semester grades on transcripts you send, and it gives you more time to ask the current accounting department chair for a recommendation, if she knows you better by then.
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Re: Just starting the process (any advice?)   [#permalink] 21 Jun 2017, 15:51
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