Moving to a new city or university can feel overwhelming when you are transitioning to grad school. At least that is how I felt as I contemplated whether to stay at the College of Charleston for my graduate work or to move to Charlottesville to attend the M.S. in Accounting program at the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce.
I grew up in Charleston, so the transition from home to college was relatively easy. I knew I needed to do something that would push me out of my comfort zone. After all, if I want to work with major corporate clients I needed to show that I can transition to new settings and establish relationships with new people. I also wanted to expand my professional network and make new friends.
I found that moving to a new city by myself is incredibly empowering. Charlottesville has all the perks of a big city, without the cons. There are great restaurants, hiking trails, wineries, art venues, and so much more. Plus, the community I have been able to build within the program is amazing!
I moved here alone and didn’t know a single person in the program. I was really nervous prior to orientation, but quickly found that my professors and my classmates were all friendly and approachable. I also realized that almost everyone else in the program moved away from home to come here – many coming much, much farther than I did! At the College of Charleston, my class sizes were small, which fostered an atmosphere for open and allowed me to form close relationships with my professors and classmates. Despite being at a larger university, the M.S. in Accounting program at McIntire offers a very similar class dynamic.
One of my absolute favorite parts of Charlottesville, and the program in particular, is the people. The professors are so knowledgeable and willing to help whenever you need it. They push you to think in a different way than you thought in undergraduate classes. My classmates are so supportive and we’ve bonded since the very beginning. I joined the student council and help plan social activities for us to do as a class like attending the Sunset Concert Series or picking apples at Carters Mountain, trying new restaurants, and handing out candy on The Lawn for Halloween. And, of course, many of us have been busy meeting employers for coffee and bagels, mock interviews, resume reviews, and job interviews!
It’s hard to move away from your friends and family, but I feel like I’ve joined a close community here that makes it feel more like home. I have quickly realized it is one of the best decisions I ever made!