When I visited campus last year as a prospective student, two MPA students were kind enough to answer the many questions I had for them. I wanted to know their experiences with classes, their career aspirations and MPA tracks, their experiences with recruiting season, their perceptions of MPA students and professors, and just about everything I could think to inquire about.
In an effort to be similarly helpful to prospective and incoming students, I invite you to submit your questions by e-mailing (mpablogger[at]gmail.com) or leaving a comment. I’ll do my best to answer as many of your questions as possible, and will make sure to get input from other students if I don’t have a good answer myself. I’ve also been asked by prospective students to post on this blog more frequently. You got it.
To get us started, here are a few Questions and Answers about MPA classes:
Question: How long will it take you to complete your degree program?
Answer: Fourteen months in all. Along with about 25 other students, I took two summer classes (ACC S381 – Financial Accounting, and LEB S380 – Legal Environment of Business for MPA students) that began in early July and went through mid-August. Here’s the breakdown of my credit hours per semester:
Summer 2008: Two classes mentioned above (6 credit hours)
Fall 2008: Five classes (13 credit hours including the MPA Lecture Series, which is 1 credit hour)
Spring 2009: Five classes (15 credit hours)
Summer 2009: Three classes (9 credit hours)
Question: How did you decide on your track?
Answer: Before I enrolled in the MPA program I decided that I wanted to be an auditor at a Big 4 firm, so choosing Financial Reporting and Assurance as my track was natural.
Question: What are your favorite classes and why?
Answer: I’ve liked all of my classes for one reason or another (yes, I’m one of THOSE types of people). But here’s a short list of “favorites.”
- Managerial Accounting from Brian Lendecky – interesting topic that opened my eyes to some of the issues businesses face
- Tax Practicum from Brian Lendecky – It has been awesome to prepare taxes for low income households as a volunteer for this class. I’ve also enjoyed leading group discussions in class about various topics related to low income.
- Legal Environment of Business for MPAs from Dean Bredeson (he and Professor Lendecky were honored recently for their high student ratings) – Professor Bredeson is a fantastic teacher and I was surprised to find this topic interesting.
- Introduction to Taxes from John Robinson - Great professor, and taxes are much more interesting than I thought they would be, and I’ve gained a certain feeling of satisfaction and empowerment from understanding taxes better.
- Financial Accounting Standards and Analysis I (Intermediate) from Lisa Koonce - Despite the fast pace and relatively disjointed nature of the class (it covers a wide variety of only slightly related topics), I found Intermediate to be quite interesting and felt like it gave me a much better understanding of GAAP and some of the more specific and complicated accounting issues. I’m excited to review what I learned while studying for the CPA exam. Also, Professor Koonce is very committed to her classes.
Question: How have your classes challenged you?
Answer: The most challenging thing for me has been having the patience to work through really long problems over and over. For example, in Advanced Accounting, our recent test had a comprehensive consolidation problem that had been allotted something like 75 minutes (worth 75 points: one point for each minute). In preparation for the exam, I worked through six or seven comprehensive problems several times each. In the beginning, each problem took anywhere from 45 minutes to well over an hour, which seems like a lot of time to spend applying some fairly straightforward concepts. Then again, such repetition and practice has certainly helped me internalize the process and the concepts.
Question: How have your academic advisors and professors helped you with class planning, track selection, registration, planning for the CPA exam, etc.?
Answer: The MPA Program Office has been extremely helpful when it comes to academic and CPA exam planning. The program advisors helped me plan which classes to take during which semesters, they answered questions I had about professors’ teaching styles, and they have always been quick to respond to my inquiries and requests by e-mail or in person.
For example, when I sat down with Jason Tasset (my assigned advisor) last semester to review my spring semester registration plans, he helped me by making sure I knew how to meet the requirements to take the CPA exam this coming summer. Then, when I was applying for the exam, he filled out a form for me verifying my current classes and made sure it got signed by the proper person. Sure, I could probably have done everything myself, but Jason saved me time and effort and gave me an added amount of confidence that I’m doing exactly what I need to do to get where I want to go.
That’s it for now. Remember to ask your questions via e-mail (mpablogger[at]gmail.com) or comment (below).