I started my journey toward CPA certification in January of 2013 by enrolling into an accounting certificate program at UCLA Extension. I am now in my last quarter and plan to sit for the first exam in the beginning of January. I am almost done with the easy part – completing the 150 credits requirement. But the most difficult part is still ahead.
I started looking into a CPA certification in April of 2012 while studying for GMAT and considering the differences between a Masters in Accounting and an MBA. When I finally took the GMAT in May I was not very happy with my score. I also felt that I did not have enough work experience, so I decided to put off graduate school applications for another year. After evaluating my situation I decided that the best thing for me would be to take some classes and see if I liked the subject enough to continue with a full-time program at a graduate level.
One of the first programs that I looked at was offered at a community college in New York – BMCC. I visited the campus and spoke with the chairperson. It seemed reasonable. However, after having taken two classes at NYU SCPS I felt that a young professionals oriented program rather than a city college environment would’ve been a better choice for me. Since classes started only in the fall, I had plenty of time to decide what I wanted to do. But since I really wanted to start as soon as possible, I registered for a business class that summer at a different school to see if it would be a better fit.
The summer session went by in a flash. It was fun and brief. But it was enough for me to realize that I needed to complete my coursework at a university as opposed to a community college. Graduate school was the answer, but it meant that I would need to improve my GMAT score, get recommendations, write essays, and then wait for at at least half a year until I could start…
Then things changed. My fiancé got a job offer in Los Angeles and after a brief visit we decided to take a chance and move to the West coast. I looked at my options there and found UCLA Extension, similar in every way to NYU SCPS, but better because I could take courses for credit and the program was recognized by California State Board of Accountancy . We moved in the middle of October when the quarter already started. I registered for the program in December and waited with agitation for January.
When the school started I was already working full-time. I first signed up for 3 classes, but dropped one by the end of the second week because of the heavy course load and quick pace – only 12 weeks per quarter. I decided to skip the Principles of Accounting a two-part course (8 units total) which was available in an accelerated one quarter format because I felt that I already had a good foundation having taken introduction to accounting and finance during undergrad. It was true that I knew most of the material, but I would’ve done a lot better in Intermediate Accounting 120A if I didn’t rush so much and took that class as a review. My second class was Federal Income Taxation 127.
During the second quarter I decided that I could handle 3 classes because I wanted to sit for the exam as soon as possible. I took Management Accounting along with Intermediate Accounting 120B and 120C. The semester was stressful, but I did well. I kept the same course load during the third quarter. I took Advanced Accounting 124A, 124B, and Internal Auditing 423.2. I was really focused and could not have been happier with the result at the end of the quarter. At this point I obtained enough credits to become eligible to sit for the CPA exam and mailed my application as soon as the transcripts became available.
This fall I am taking 3 classes – Financial Auditing, Ethics in Accounting, and Business Law and will be done with the Certificate in the middle of December. My top priority right now to prepare myself for the first part of CPA Exam, AUD, which I plan to pass in the beginning of January. I still plan to take at least 2 more classes at UCLA Extension next year to satisfy the licensure requirement and to broaden my knowledge of accounting.
I am happy with my choices so far and still plan on getting a Masters in Accounting. The program gave me a good foundation, I am better prepared to handle the graduate work, and I now know for sure that accounting is right for me.