CPA Exam Information Webinar – Oct. 17

Are you thinking ahead to the CPA exam? We know the registration process for the CPA designation can be confusing and taxing! Becker CPA Exam Review  and TSCPA are here to help!

On Friday, Oct. 17 from noon to 1 p.m. they’ll be hosting a free webinar to help answer questions and set you on the path toward becoming a CPA. Topics will include: the value of a CPA designation, Texas requirements and the application process, strategies for exam preparation, and more.

P.S. – TSCPA student members receive a $300 discount on Becker’s CPA Exam Review Course.

Get the details
To sign up, please RSVP.

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Starting Strong

Zack HansenBlogger: Zack Hansen

Hello everyone!

My name is Zack, and I finished my undergraduate degree in accounting this past May. I am currently taking classes towards my Master’s degree and will start studying for the CPA exam next spring. A little bit about me…..

I was born in Houston, but have really enjoyed living in Dallas and cannot wait to start my career here. Unlike most accounting students, I started off as an accounting major and haven’t looked back. My main passion outside school is playing soccer. I came to UT Dallas to play on the men’s soccer team, and I am starting my final season playing for the school. Most weekends you will find me watching some sort of soccer game and the #1 item on my bucket list is to attend the World Cup. This is my first time blogging, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with everyone.

Now for the explanation of this blog post’s title. Going back to school after summer vacation has always been a struggle for me. I always end up procrastinating things and having to catch up over the rest of the semester. Having a slow start to the fall semester seemed to be a tradition during my undergrad years. I know this is natural after a long lay off from school, but it is something that is beneficial to avoid. I have gotten better at getting back into the swing of things over the years, and I have learned some helpful tips. Here is my advice for avoiding the summer break hangover:

• Buy your books as early as possible. I started buying my books before class would even start. This way I could hit the ground running and wouldn’t have to worry about finding my books when I should be studying. If you are worried about teachers saying the book isn’t used in this class on the first day of school, then make sure to look at the return policy when you buy your books. A bunch of the book stores allow two weeks for returns, and I have definitely taken advantage of this policy.

• Write down all your tests and homework assignments in a planner before class starts. This allows you to see when you are going to be really busy and plan out your semester accordingly. If you do this before class starts, you won’t waste valuable time doing it when you could be studying.

• Try to get back into a decent sleep routine. This is easily the one I have struggled with the most as I am not a morning person. If you can get back into the habit of not waking up at noon before class starts, then you will hit the ground running during the fall semester.

• Force yourself to study. This is definitely easier said than done after spending all summer hanging out with your friends. Even if you had an internship all summer, studying is a different beast than going to work all day. The best way I found to do this was to head to the library during the first couple of weeks of classes even if you don’t have homework. This way I got into a good habit before the homework started to pile on.

I hope everyone has a good semester and starts strong after the summer away from school!

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Meet Our Newest Bloggers!

Introducing the newest group of TXCPA2B bloggers from the University of Texas at Dallas! Read more about this fine group of future accounting super stars on the Meet the Bloggers page, and stay tuned for insight and wisdom from their personal journeys to the CPA credential.

Group

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TSCPA: A Day in the Life

CPAs throughout Texas work in a myriad of organizations, large and small, in countless capacities. Check out TSCPA’s new series called “A Day in the Life.” See how CPAs across the state “show their letters” working in most any and every kind of enterprise in Texas.

Read more about how one TSCPA member uses her experience and expertise to “show her letters” for a few of her family’s businesses in the Austin area.

 

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The Art of Learning

Aaron HeadshotBlogger: Aaron Blankenship

When I was younger, studying was always an item on a chore list, something you wanted to do quickly and then be done with it. If asked why I studied I doubt I could have come up with any answer other than “if I don’t I will fail.” Luckily, I was a pretty efficient studier. I memorized fairly well, I could regurgitate equations, and I wasn’t easily distracted by my environment when studying. By the time I was a senior in high school I had perfected the study method of “If I look at this long enough it will make sense and I will remember it for the exam.” Unfortunately, that studying method could not possibly be more incompatible with preparing for the CPA exam. There simply isn’t enough time to memorize every little thing. Even if you somehow were able to memorize, say, 75 percent of the material and recall it directly from memory, the random nature of the exam will often punish you for neglecting the other 25 percent. Studying for the CPA exam requires a more active approach. Lucky for me, studying in college prepared me for this by promoting more active learning. Becoming an active learner is one of the best things you can do when starting your college career. You will be tested in your collegiate years to adapt to different teaching styles and find ways to learn material in many different ways. For a lot of students this proves to be the toughest challenge in adjusting to college life.

I’ve been told all my life that your brain is a muscle and learning, as it relates to studying, is a skill. I was told you must practice this skill and that if you do it enough, you will inevitably succeed. In some ways this is true. You are much more likely to succeed if you study as opposed to not studying. However, at a certain point it is common to hit a “wall” of sorts. For example, if I study four hours a day for a section of the CPA exam I will clearly score better than I would have if I studied 30 minutes a day. But how much better would I do if I studied six hours a day? Probably not much better. What if I said goodbye to my friends, ate two meals a day, and studied for 12 hours a day? I would probably do much worse than if I studied four hours a day like I had originally planned. If studying effectively is a better way to prepare than using the amount of time I study as the sole measurement of success, then I need to focus on what makes me an effective studier.

This is where you come in. Only you, through experience, can determine what works for you. Behavioral scientists have observed up to eight or nine different learning styles that are unique and vary from individual to individual. Discover what learning style suits you as early as you can and you will be rewarded handsomely in the future. In that way, studying is an art form more than anything else. It is a personal process that tests your creativity as much as it tests your cognitive abilities. Learning should be fun (or in the very least not painful) and if you aren’t having any fun, it might be time to try something different.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Importance of Being Involved

April HeadshotBlogger: April Crawford

Hi everyone!

I wanted to talk a little bit about the importance of being involved in extracurricular activities. I know, this sounds like a boring or obvious topic, but I’ve found it to be the single most important thing that I have done at UTD. Here are some of the highlights of the things I have done in the past few years:

Vice President of Beta Alpha Psi (a national accounting honors fraternity)

  • Professional Program in Accounting, a five-year program that allowed to me get a Masters degree one year after receiving a Bachelors, and exposed me to prestigious accounting firms
  • Teaching assistant
  • Participated in the Deloitte FanTAXtic Case Competition
  • Won 1st place in the National AICPA Case Competition (and won $2500!)

Obviously this has kept me really busy, but it has been SO worth it! Because of my involvement on campus, I’ve had so many opportunities available to me. I’ve travelled to Baltimore, Washington DC, and Anaheim for school-related activities. I mentioned before that I won a pretty nice prize for competing in one of the competitions. These experiences have done so much for me. Not only have they boosted my resume, but I also learned really valuable lessons that I could not have learned in the classroom.

I’ve gotten to improve on many very important soft skills, such as leadership, public speaking, teamwork, among others. And even though I think my GPA could have been slightly higher if I hadn’t spent my time participating in these things, I would never trade any of them for a 4.0! I think being well-rounded and involved is much more impressive than having a 4.0 and not participating in any extracurricular activities. It gives you the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned inside the classroom, but in a fun way!

 

 

 

 

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First Day of Doing VITA

Joyce WangGuest Blogger: Chunmeng (Joyce) Wang

February 13th was a remarkable day for me because it was my first day of doing VITA. I volunteered at St. Luke’s Community House.

Although I had heard some stories from other VITA volunteers and had taken hours of training, I still felt a little nervous on the eve of February 13th. I didn’t know what I was going to face and thus didn’t know what to prepare. As an international student, I was worried about both English language and body language communications with the clients who have diverse backgrounds; as a new volunteer, I was worried that there would not be enough time to learn in the real site; and as a fresh tax preparer, I was worried that if I encountered a complex tax situation, I would not be able to handle it and would mess up the client’s tax return. I had even seen in my imagination that all the clients were in a rush and my coworkers were all having serious faces.

However, all my worries were relieved from the moment I opened the door of this site. When I walked into the tax preparation room, I saw several clients waiting in the lobby, patiently. A site assistant saw my VITA T-shirt, so he came and led me to the site manager’s office. People working in the office were all very nice. They got everything ready for me very carefully. Several minutes later, I received a specific login account for tax returns and a name tag with my name on it. I was then led to the room where we do tax returns. Surprisingly, I received a super warm welcome and found that the majority of the tax preparers in the room are my classmates in UTD: February early birds!

There were three first-day volunteers including myself and three experienced volunteers who had more volunteer experience. So each of us first-day volunteers were assigned an experienced volunteer as a temporary teacher. My teacher was Zoe Zhou. I was lucky because I got enough time to learn from Zoe about how to check clients’ documents and where to input the tax information into the system. There were not many clients that day, so Zoe Zhou and I waited and finally got three clients in my three and a half hours. I saw Social Security Cards and real W-2 forms for the first time! There were also other documents such as Cancellation of Debt statement, charitable contribution records, and so on. Those various original documents reminded me that I was preparing a REAL tax return. Sometimes, I felt excited when the knowledge I learned could be exactly used for my client. For example, when we prepare the return for a 2013 divorced client, we could use the last day rule to conclude that this client belonged to “single” status for tax return. But given that the client supported several children, the client’s status could be head of household. After doing two returns, I got a sense of about how much the refund would be according to the number of dependents. That sense helped me corrected my incorrect return for the third client. After completing the tax return for the third client, I found the refund amount they received was relatively small and this did not make sense to me. Since I wasn’t sure, Zoe Zhou and I went back to check, and Zoe found that I missed some information about the dependents when inputting data. I want to give a big thank you to my patient teacher!

There was a relatively complex tax situation that day. One of my coworkers had a client with a lot of documents and spent at least an hour to prepare that client’s return. I saw the site manager and site assistant were always there to back up that coworker and answer all questions. After that return, I am sure that this coworker learned a lot from that one-hour tax return. I also learned how to deal with the cancellation of debt under the help of the site assistant.

After three and a half hours of volunteering, I was so happy because of the clients who casually talked with us, because of the coworkers and site staff who guided me and discussed tax knowledge with me, and because of the tax knowledge I practiced and newly learned. We each received a thank you letter from St. Luke’s site manager Linda Edwards for the volunteer work. I would also like to thank Linda who helped us complete such meaningful and rewarding volunteer work.

Thank you, Linda and thanks to the VITA Program for giving me a chance to help the community!

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