I’m pretty smart. I graduated high school ranked fourth in the class and had a ridiculously high GPA. Yeah, I was one of those kids. I thought I could do whatever I wanted because everything in high school had come so easy. That changed when I got to college. I went to a small but highly ranked private college and it was not easy. I thought I could do Chemistry. Yeah, not so much. Almost flunked it. Wasn’t so good at Economics either. I landed on accounting because it was sophomore year and I really needed to settle on a major and accounting didn’t suck that much. Well, the higher level courses sucked but I worked my ass off and managed to get good grades anyway.
Grad school seemed like a forgone conclusion. They made it sound so easy. Just take the courses and get the Masters and sit for the exam. It’ll be over in a year and you’ll have the CPA and the world will be your oyster. Easy? What about that is easy? Well, I believed them. I passed the GMAT and got accepted. I lined up an apartment and a roommate. It seemed like everything was going to be fine.
Nothing was fine.
The classes were bizarre to say the least. We were all forced to take Accounting Theory. That is exactly what you think it is. Bullshit. We read articles like “Is the Accounting Equation Really an Equation?” and watched videos about Enron. The professor was a gaping asshole. He was in the process of suing the school for the third or fourth time just because he wanted to see their charitable contributions information or some shit. In Auditing we read and discussed Animal Farm. What the fuck does that have to do with auditing? We were told we had to say something during every class or we’d fail. And he didn’t want us to raise our hands. So we’d step all over each other and shout to be heard. Then the professor told us it wasn’t just enough to add something meaningful to the discussion each day. Only the people who were “driving the bus of the conversation” would get a good score that day. How were all of us supposed to “drive the bus” enough to get a decent grade in the class?
Those of us without jobs lined up were required to attend recruiting events and go on interviews. There was an open house at one of the local firms so the lowly unemployed put on our suits and heels and met up with the recruiter after classes and then WALKED the bazillion miles from the campus to the firm. And then STOOD for another hour and a half. I don’t think my feet have ever been that sore. Thankfully, I was able to wrangle a ride back to the parking garage with another student and her boyfriend. The school arranged interviews on campus for us with local firms looking to hire. It was the fall of 2009, the economic crisis was settling in, and rumors were flying that firms weren’t hiring like they did in previous years. I got an interview, drove downtown, realized that Google Maps had lied to me that there was a parking garage near the building, found another garage, got lost, asked for directions, ran six blocks in heels and a suit, and arrived sweaty and out of breath just to be told that this firm didn’t actually have any positions available, they were just interviewing students to keep their relationship with the school. All I got for my trouble was a gigantic blister that popped into a gooey mess the next day. I’d had enough.
Yes, I was burned out from college. Yes, I was rooming with a sociopath. Yes, the classes were crazy. But the reason I left after only two months was because I just didn’t want to be a CPA. Everybody was trying to convince me that it was the only path, that I had to get those three letters or I would never make it. I was failing 3 out of my 4 classes and would have flunked out at the end of the semester but I went ahead and left because I knew I just wasn’t cut out for it. I didn’t spend a lot of time feeling like a failure because college taught me to know your limits. If you can’t do it, even with a lot of hard work, that’s okay. You can’t be good at everything. And no one’s going to make me feel bad about dropping out. The happy ending is that as soon as I got home I got a job at the small firm I had interned with. So, moral of the story, don’t let professors or anybody else tell you how you should live your life. I decided to drop out of grad school and I haven’t regretted it at all.