Q: I am 23 years old, and I’m currently an accounting major. I am set to graduate next fall with my bachelor’s degree, after three years of college. I have one more year on my scholarship that will go unused, so I thought it may be worth it to stay and double major in Management Information Systems. I’m not completely sure what I want to do in business yet, and I would like the time to build more connections in college. Do you think this would be a good investment, or should I move on to my master’s program and potential employment?
A: You’ve raised questions that require both a clear view of your career goals and thoughtful analysis of tradeoffs. For example, if you plan to be an accountant, you’ll want consider the course credits required to sit for the CPA exam–120 or 150, depending on the state. If that is your path, you would want to consider options such as double majoring or moving on immediately to a master’s program, to accumulate the necessary credits.
If you’re thinking about a career outside of accounting, such as business management, it may make sense to complete your bachelor’s degree quickly and go immediately to work. Remember that the cost of attending college includes the income you forego by not working; in other words, your scholarship doesn’t make college “free.” Also, the connections you’d make in a fourth year at school are unlikely to be more valuable than the ones you might establish in your first year in the workplace. And the workplace is where you’ll learn most about your career preferences.
Double majoring in Management Information Systems would be worth the additional cost only if that’s your career focus. If your interest is in business management, it could make good sense to start working now. The top MBA programs require at least two years of full-time work experience. And you might find that you’re successful enough in your initial job that you just want to stay with it.