Can Community College Ruin Your Chances In Accounting?

community college

We jump into the mailbag of The Bean Counter:

Hi Andrew,

I’m currently attending Community College as a freshmen and I am really interested in working for the Big 4 firms but I don’t know where to begin. My plan is to transfer out and attend a 4 year university for a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and hopefully a CPA license as well but the problem is: I don’t know whether it is best to transfer out after 2 years or 1 despite loosing my chances of speaking to the firms?
What do you recommend me do and what should I do to increase my chances of getting an internship or job with the Big 4 and how can I develop my skills to be prepared for it?
Great question and one I get a lot. This is perhaps my biggest mistake of my entire college experience:
I should have gone to community college.
Why do I say that? Well I paid about $55K for my undergrad and masters combined. WAY overpriced in my opinion. While I have made enough cash to pay back the loan in full and then some in less than three years from graduating, many students a) paid more for college than me and b) don’t have the same income level when they graduate.
So my first response: Bravo to you, you’re on the right track
When should you transfer? After two years would be ideal for a normal 4 year undergrad degree.
Why? Big 4 firms (and really all major accounting firms) typically hire at three times during the year:
January (winter)
June/July (summer)
September/October (fall)
But they hire for those positions in early spring semester and early fall semester.
However, the fall semester is the bulk of any firms recruiting efforts.
Fall is HUGE
If you transfer in three semesters (assuming you started in fall), that will give you a fall as a Junior, Senior, and during your Masters/Fifth year to fulfill CPA requirements to try and get a summer leadership conference, internship, or full-time position with any firm. At the Junior stage, you’re only eligible for a summer leadership but you could sneak into an internship position.
And if your first semester is in the fall, you’ll have no updated GPA on your resume! This will most likely mean you’ll have to show your community college GPA, so make sure it’s good. You also won’t be able to join Beta Alpha Psi at that point (assuming the University you choose has a chapter) but that’s fine, you’re giving yourself three full years to get a position.
Keep at it. You’ve got a long ways to go but congrats to you for making the BEST choice right out the gates! Keep us posted on your progress!