Yesterday we featured a younger student, Stephanie, who thought she might be too old for campus life at the ripe old age of 22. Today we feature Leeja, who, at 37, is ready to dive in.
I’m 37 years old and have a son who will be a high school senior in the fall. I have 19 years of experience in accounting, a profession I didn’t choose, but went into out of necessity when I married a man with a new company who couldn’t afford a bookkeeper. In 2005, I divorced the man I’d given 15 years of my life to, who refused to “let” me go to college (I think he was scared I would make more money than him and wouldn’t “need” him anymore).
Yikes. That’s a rotten story, man, but all too common as you probably know. Glad you’re at the beginning of turning things around. That’s one of my favorite movie quotes of all time — “Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around,” from Vanilla Sky. I never met anyone else who liked that movie but me. But I digress…
Two and a half years ago, with the encouragement of my boyfriend who is a college professor at a major university, I signed up for University of Phoenix’s online program. By this time, I had moved the 45 miles from where I had lived for 15 years to the college town where he lived, and found quickly that I would not be able to get a decent job without a bachelor’s degree, so I chose UoP because they had a ground campus in the city where I work.
Good choice, in my opinion. U of P has its naysayers, many of whom have commented here on other posts I’ve made, but I’m still a cheerleader for that school when it’s all said and done. I know lots of people who’ve realized a lot of career benefit from a U of P education.
I finished my Associates of Arts in Accounting last September and went straight into the bachelor’s program. I’m 24 credits into the bachelors program now and I know just as much now as when I wanted to go to school when I was married that I do not want to be a bookkeeper all my life, and I definitely don’t want to be a CPA. What I think I would really like to do is be a certified financial planner.
Sounds great. CFPs do brisk business now, and I imagine they always will here in the U.S., where an overwhelming majority do very little investing or planning until it’s late in the game (in which case, they’ll be coming to folks like you for help).
I know that both of these directions are viable long-term career options from a standpoint of job security within the US. I also know that since I’m commuting, the accounting being more familiar to me allows me to skate through my classes much easier than most of my classmates in the accounting program (I currently have a 3.89 GPA).
Because I commute almost an hour each way to work, this has been nice in a way, but I also don’t really feel challenged, and isn’t that supposed to be what being in college is about?
Well, maybe. That’s up to every person. Sure, challenging oneself intellectually has been part of the college sales pitch for a long time, but sometimes people just go for the ticket-punch you need to get their foot in the door at the job they want. Either way is fine in my book — get out of college what you want to get out of it, and don’t let other people’s conceptions of what it’s supposed to be factor in too much.
Now, it’s not that I’m down on intellectual challenges; I’m all for them. Just remember, though, anymore, you don’t need a spendy college education to enjoy intellectual challenges. The Internet provides access, for all intents and purposes, to most of the world’s known information. I mentioned a couple days back that iTunes U offers free, full video/online courses from top universities like Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, and many more that are yours for the taking whenever you want them. MIT offers all (or very nearly all) of their courses online for free. I’m just saying, as far as intellectual challenges go, there are cheap options, too. 🙂
So anyway, here’s my dilemma. I’m looking at the course list for the accounting program and I’m looking at the class list for the finance program, and they are exactly the same until the class I finish the end of February. Only the last 6 classes are different. So, which degree will give me the most flexibility without disqualifying me for accounting positions until I can get to my dream job?
Well, probably accounting, but if only the last six courses are different, I wouldn’t guess that you’d gain or lose much flexibility by choosing either one. I just figure that, if you’re going to work as an accountant while you’re biding your time to become a CFP, then accounting is probably the best degree to have for that.
You might get a little more CFP-type knowledge with the finance degree, but not enough to make a difference. Remember, to fulfill the education portion of a CFP certification, you just have to have a four-year college degree (in anything) from an accredited university. You’re covered there whichever degree you choose.
Then, you have to pass the CFP exam, and then, you have to work full-time for three years in financial planning BEFORE you can actually get the fancy “CFP” after your name on your shingle and your business cards. My point is — the choice between a finance degree and an accounting degree doesn’t affect any of those additional criteria; instead, it’s basically a choice you’ll make to ensure you can get accounting jobs, in which case, I’d think accounting would be best.
By the way, I shouted you up on my Facebook page!
Thanks for the question and the link love! What about you guys — what do you think Leeja should do? Let us know in the comments below.