Tips for Success

From Campus to Grounds: Transitioning to Graduate School

Hannah Capestany (M.S. in Accounting '22) explores the transition to graduate school, offers practical advice on the graduate application process, and chats with current and former students about their different experiences.

The transition to graduate school can often present many challenges as you prepare yourself for the next step. However, this transition can help navigate you through your future endeavors. Planning for the future is, at times, overwhelming. The transition process can get messy, between not knowing what to do next or not knowing how to go about the next step. Let’s look at some practical advice and student examples to help ease your mind.

Graduate Application Process
Let’s begin with the application process. When applying to graduate school, there can be a lot of pressure and intensity involved in the process, making it difficult to adjust. Overcoming the stereotype that graduate school is too complex will create confidence in your ability to further your education and adapt to a new experience. There is no need to feel rushed, unprepared, or scared when deciding on graduate school. The next step is addressing these potential obstacles within the transition process. Going from one destination to the next is never easy. Many have worked so hard to get to where they are today in graduate school and have overcome the mental barrier of continuing education. Before arriving at your destination, it is essential to remember how far you have come and to be excited about the next. When transitioning to graduate school, it’s important never to take your eyes off the road because you may miss a crucial direction in deciding what is best for you.

Different Experiences
Many prospective and current students come from all over the world to attend graduate school and begin this next step. They have many different experiences as to why they came, what they plan on doing, and overcoming obstacles. We will look from the perspective of four graduate students, including myself, and the transition to UVA’s M.S. in Accounting Program.

When attending a different undergraduate institution, I had to make adjustments that best helped me prepare for graduate school. I attended East Carolina University for my undergraduate degree in accounting. The exceptional recruiting process for career opportunities and the constant outreach from the admissions team, who took an interest in furthering my education objectives, led me to choose UVA. The challenge I was most worried about was the adjustment coming from a different undergraduate institution. I overcame that challenge from the plethora of resources and the help from faculty that have made this adjustment comfortable. My advice for prospective students coming from a different undergraduate institution is to step out of their comfort zone because you never want to look back on what could have been!

JP Wu (M.S. in Accounting ’22)
We now look at the perspective of JP Wu. Originally from China, JP completed his undergraduate degree at the University of California at San Diego. When completing his studies on the West Coast, JP wanted to explore what it would be like on the East Coast, and the history, prestige, and incredible M.S. in Accounting Program led him to UVA. The academic challenge he encounters is the fast-paced environment from undergraduate to graduate school. He discussed the time frame of completing complex assignments for his classes. He also talked about the encouragement aspect of “becoming more than accountants” in taking leadership, communication, and data analysis courses. With the variety of the classes we take, JP states that faculty “provide us with lots of new information to internalize.” JP overcame his academic challenge by having study groups with students in our program. He sees the study groups as a way to discuss complex topics, make friends, and build connections. The study group with other students encourages him to work hard and use his time to complete projects and assignments on schedule. The takeaway JP stresses is this: “Getting out of your comfort zone is fun! Learning new things and connecting with new people are not as hard as we thought.” JP enjoys the amazing things UVA offers and has become more open-minded as he moves to complete his M.S. in Accounting.

Noah Larmann (M.S. in Accounting ’21)
The familiarity of adjusting from undergraduate to graduate school at UVA was comforting for Noah Larmann. Originally from Virginia, Noah grew up in Berlin, Germany. He joined the military shortly after high school and then began his undergraduate career at Northern Virginia Community College before transferring into UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce. The benefit for veterans at UVA, in particular, drew Noah to attend. He said his transition to graduate school was simple. The challenge he faced was when he had to take additional Accounting courses in his undergraduate career to complete the accelerated M.S. in Accounting Program. He praised the McIntire staff for assisting him and all students with potential hardships. The effort put in at the start was crucial to Noah in learning the foundation of skills to succeed in the program. Noah wants to emphasize the benefit of understanding the base knowledge when entering the program to prospective students. Noah also stresses the importance of getting to know your professors to ensure a better transition to graduate school for incoming students.

Rhytham Arora (M.S. in Accounting ’22)
When getting a feel for the real-world environment in accounting, Rhytham Arora knows what to expect. Rhytham is from Delhi, India, and attended the University of Delhi for her undergraduate degree. What attracted Rhytham to UVA was the importance of data analytics in accounting, since she has audit experience from her career. The challenge most prevalent to Rhytham was moving to a new country; she had toured the United States but described it as a cultural shift. Another was adjusting to the student life again, as she worked for some time before returning to continue her education. She also faced the challenge of attending graduate school when her undergraduate institution was outside the United States. She overcomes these challenges through the help of the professors and other M.S. in Accounting students’ understanding and accommodating to help her as best they can. She views the importance of getting to know faculty and making friends in the program, which she believes allows her to integrate better into the culture here. The advice Rhytham wants to relay to incoming students is to do this program, because even though she came from work experience, she feels that she is learning something new every day.

The differing perspectives allow us to understand and interpret our own experiences to get us to where we want to be. The obstacles that many face can be challenging at first. Making a plan and then following through will better prepare you for new situations and experiences. The transition to graduate school is what you make of it, and with the excellent faculty, students, and program here at UVA, you can cross that finish line!

Learn more about the program and McIntire, connect with an M.S. in Accounting Ambassador today.

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