Why I'm Studying Accounting
Sunday, September 08, 2019
A Spark Friend asked why I keep on pursuing an accounting certificate even though I find it's so difficult. Here's why.
I graduated from college 20 years ago. After getting my BA, I went to teacher college. I worked as a teacher and private tutor for about 13 years on and off. I always struggled to stay employed. I was the master of part time and temporary work-- never qualifying for tenure track positions. But I enjoyed myself. I particularly enjoyed the 8 years I owned my own tutoring business, though I was dirt poor the entire time. When my business closed shop for various reasons, I thought to try teaching again. I got a temporary job for one year, but was laid off at the end of the year. That was about five years ago. I have looked for teaching work since then and never found anything. I have been working as a substitute, but I really hate it. The truth is that there are so many teachers where I live (Southern California) and not enough jobs. I went to a job fair about two years ago. There were easily 1,000 teachers at this fair interviewing for many 20 jobs. Once I got through that I decided I needed to do something else. I either needed to change careers or move. Since moving isn't an option as I will be needing to take care of my Dad in the short future, I decided to change careers.
In order to do that, I got help from a gov't agency, the Dept. of Rehabilitation. I have a qualifying disability, so they were willing to retrain me and help me get a job. I worked with a career counselor and decided on accounting because it's stable, plentiful, and well-paying. We found a certificate program at a nearby college that's just over a year long, and that sounded perfect. Well, it hasn't been! The program started out face-to-face and I did really, really well the first two quarters. I was really learning a lot and enjoying myself. Unfortunately, last spring, the program became a mostly online program. I couldn't change to another program as the only other accounting programs by me are degree programs (and I don't need another degree), and they are all online too. So I stuck with my program.
Now don't think that I am doing horrible, because I'm not. I've done well in all my classes except two: Cost Accounting and Managerial Accounting. Both have been online and both are fairly advance accounting classes. I haven't liked the teacher I've had for these classes (the same teacher for both). He tends to stress sheer quantity of work over quality of knowledge. In other words, we do tons and tons and tons of work but because there's so much breadth, there's no real depth of knowledge. For Cost Accounting, the biggest problem was that I was sick the first 6 weeks of class and I didn't learn a whole lot. I struggled because I didn't learn the early stuff, so I couldn't do the ending stuff either. Managerial Accounting has mostly been a repeat of Cost Accounting, so I am learning what I didn't learn last quarter. I am actually doing much better. I got a C in Cost Accounting, my lowest grade ever, but I have a B+ in Managerial Accounting right now and hope to keep that for my final grade, though it just depends on the final exam. I think the reason I struggle so much and freak out when I don't get it is that I am teaching myself this class. I just have the book and online program and I have to figure it all out on my own. As the book and the homework problems don't usually match up, it's a struggle to figure out what to do. That's why I bug my teacher for help so much. I end up getting mini lectures from him so I am actually learning. I am convinced that if I had an in class lecture every week I would be doing sooo much better. I've never been big on online learning, and this program has solidified that believe for me.
So don't mind me when I freak out. It's just my frustration at a program that's online that I thought would be in person. I doubt I'll be doing a lot of what I'm learning at my first job, as I will most likely being doing bookkeeping and taxes, two things I'm good at, not capital budgeting, which is what we learned last week. That's something a controller or chief financial officer (CFO) would be doing, not someone new to the field.
My goal is to be a CPA, but that may not happen. I may not be able to pass all the exams. But that's not a problem. You don't have to be a CPA to be an accountant. You make more money, but it's not mandatory. We will just have to see what happens. I am several years from even being able to start the CPA exams, so I'm not worrying about that until I get to it.