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Going back to college to get a 2nd Bachelor's Degree - how does this work?


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#1 of 28 OFFLINE   Jason L.

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Posted April 23 2008 - 09:20 PM

I graduated from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1994 with a double major in Applied Mathematics and Statistics/Economics plus a minor in Business with a 3.34 GPA. At the end the math was ridiculously arcane to the point where you barely used numbers - just letters [mostly Greek]. I just barely made it through the math portion.

Like most college graduates I haven't used any of this after I graduated. I couldn't tell you how to solve the simplest of Calculus problems.

I have been in the IT field for almost a decade. I'm sick of it and I want to do something else. I could rant about this for a while but I'll just leave it at that.

I have been thinking about what field I should get into next. I've always liked number crunching. SUNY-Stony Brook is/was a science school and didn't offer degrees in Accounting/Finance while I was there. I took a couple of accounting classes for my Economics degree but that was it.

Now I'm thinking of getting a job in accounting/finance. I assume that I will have to go back to school - which is fine with me. If I go back to college for a 2nd bachelors degree, likely in the Dallas area, I'm not sure how it works. I will not be going for a masters degree. I just want enough schooling so that I can meet any job requirements.

1. How does the application process work? I already have a degree so they know I can do the work.

2. How many credits would I need to earn for another degree? I assume that I won't have to start from scratch.

I will probably submit a separate post about what the accounting/finance field is like. Any comments are appreciated.

#2 of 28 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted April 23 2008 - 09:47 PM

I guess my question is why not just do a master's degree? An MBA with a concentration in finance or accounting would prove more valuable, I would think, than another bachelor's degree. I would also not expect it to take much longer (if any).

#3 of 28 OFFLINE   Jason L.

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Posted April 23 2008 - 10:57 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SethH
I guess my question is why not just do a master's degree? An MBA with a concentration in finance or accounting would prove more valuable, I would think, than another bachelor's degree. I would also not expect it to take much longer (if any).

The short answer is: I don't want to work that hard. I will turn 37 soon. I have made good money working as a contractor overseas the past 4 years. The money isn't that important. I just want a professional job with health insurance that allows me to put in my 40 hours a week, go home, relax, and enjoy life.

#4 of 28 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted April 24 2008 - 12:30 AM

Fine.

A 2nd bachelor degree is still a mistake, and a tremendous waste of time.

- There is a ridiculous variety of masters degree programs out there for all kinds of needs and circumstances. There are many out there where you won't have to "work that hard."

- A lot of master's degrees only take 1 year of full time study to complete.

- You are assuming a 2nd bachelors would require less work than an masters. Not necessarely (actually, probably not), even accounting for classes common to both bachelors.

- Very little professional value added with another bachelor's degree (which is the whole point in your case). Especially since the first bachelor was a double major. I've never heard of anyone impressed by that. 2 masters, 2 PhD, yes. 2 bachelors is just DUMB. Sorry.

Reconsider.

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H

#5 of 28 OFFLINE   KurtEP

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Posted April 24 2008 - 12:35 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason L.
The short answer is: I don't want to work that hard. I will turn 37 soon. I have made good money working as a contractor overseas the past 4 years. The money isn't that important. I just want a professional job that allows me to put in my 40 hours a week, go home, relax, and enjoy life.

In the accounting field, you'd normally have to pay your dues before you could get a job like that, unless you're looking to be some kind of clerk. I'm not sure why you'd want to do that, given your background. It's mind numbing work, from what I've seen.

I'd suggest taking some time off and summoning up some motivation. There are a lot of avenues open with your background, some of which are quite interesting and challenging. However, I don't think any of them are strictly 40 hour jobs.

As to the school process, it's probably changed a lot since you applied. The requirements will vary by school. Pick a school, go to their website and see what they have to say. If you have any questions, call or email them. Not sure whether credits that old will transfer to a new degree, but again that depends on the particular school. I'm also not sure your old SAT would transfer or is even necessary.

All that said, I'd really suggest graduate school. If you want accounting, look for a Master of Professional Accountancy or something similar (if that degree is still around). It will prepare you to do accounting at a high level. Keep in mind that the accounting should be trivial for you with an applied math background. I took some 30 credits of accounting after graduating with a minor in math and the lowest score I ever got on an exam was around 95%.

A couple of other suggestions. If you like math, consider boning up on the old calculus and statistics and taking the actuary exams. They're hard, but actuaries make serious money and usually have great working conditions. Also, consider operations research or industrial engineering. Lots of math but really interesting stuff (took a course while getting my MBA and my sister is an ABD in IE making great money in industry). You might be able to open some doors with the right MBA program, but I probably wouldn't really bother unless you're going to a name school. I tend to think an MBA is a bit of BS, but I'm biased since I have one. Finally, if you're really up for a challenge, go get your JD. With your background it will be hard for you to adjust, but it's worth it in the long run, since it totally changes your perspective.

EDIT: Also, it might be worth taking a few of the grad school admissions tests like the GMAT and the LSAT. If you ace either one, you can begin to look pretty seriously at business or law school (hey, it worked for me). On the other hand, if you do poorly, time to look at other options.
Lay down your law books now, they're no damned good -- The Eagles

#6 of 28 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted April 24 2008 - 01:27 AM

I suggest you find some professional coaching / guidance before committing. You're planning a major life change -- you don't want to enroll in a four-year degree unless you know that's the right choice to accomplish your goals. It's possible it's the completely wrong choice, and will not get you where you want to go.

I agree completely with Holadem (and others). My experience is that you want the advanced degree. You want, on your resume, the M.S. or MBA. That will be more advantageous than three Bachelor's degrees from two four-year programs.

As for working hard: how is a 12 to 24 month Masters harder than a new 4-year B.S.?

But, you need to talk with people in the field(s) you're interested in and find out what is needed to get employment. It might even be that you can find a job that will put you on your desired career path, and that will pay for your education.

#7 of 28 OFFLINE   Kreisler

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Posted April 24 2008 - 03:57 AM

I don't think you need more education.

If you like number , you could always try Actuarial Science. They make good money, but it is very hard to get licensed.

Its a good start for Insurance related work, banking and even finance since all measure and calculate risk...

#8 of 28 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted April 24 2008 - 05:29 AM

I strongly agree with those who say you should seriously consider a Masters degree before a second Bachelors. Most Masters programs are only 30-45 credits, which is likely less than you'll be required to take to earn another Bachelors. Like others here, I'm confused as to why you feel that's more work?

If you do decide on a second Bachelors, you should first narrow it down to what school(s) you are interested in, then inquire about their transfer credit policies. Each school has wide latitude to set their own policies about what they will accept for transfer and what they will not, so the amount of transfer credit you will be able to use from your prior degree is going to vary widely depending on the policies and degree requirements of the school you select. If possible, continuing at SUNY-Stony Brook for either degree would probably maximize your use of past credits. Do they offer any online programs that you could take from Dallas?

Unless the school has an expiration date policy about credits (i.e. not more than 10 years old, etc.), you should be able to transfer most of your general education requirements (math, english, humanities, communications, etc.) from your old degree to your new degree, allowing you to concentrate on the specific program requirements rather than re-taking a bunch of Gen Ed courses.

You might also consider a technical certificate program or perhaps just an Associate Degree in accounting. It would indicate a continuing quest for education on your part and would likely be cheaper, faster, and just as useful as another BA. Just make sure it's an institution accredited by one of the major regional accrediting bodies.
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#9 of 28 OFFLINE   Bob Graz

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Posted April 24 2008 - 12:12 PM

I felt I worked far less in getting my MBA than getting my BSEE. I'm not sure why you equate getting a Masters degree as something necessarily harder than some undergraduate degrees. Add me to the list of those thinking that adding another undergrad degree is a mistake.

#10 of 28 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted April 24 2008 - 12:31 PM

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason L.
The short answer is: I don't want to work that hard. I will turn 37 soon. I have made good money working as a contractor overseas the past 4 years. The money isn't that important. I just want a professional job that allows me to put in my 40 hours a week, go home, relax, and enjoy life.



In the accounting field, you'd normally have to pay your dues before you could get a job like that, unless you're looking to be some kind of clerk. I'm not sure why you'd want to do that, given your background. It's mind numbing work, from what I've seen.

Public accounting yes. But get an accounting degree and you can certainly find a good paying job working 40 hours a week. There are all kind of options beyond public accounting for someone with a degree in accounting-- the private sector and not-for-profit industries for example.

I'm a financial analyst for a not-for-profit hospital and the pay is very good and the hours and flexibility are fantastic. I can't remember the last time I put in OT. Yes, it can be monotonous at times, but I think any white collar job can be.

I would definately go for an MBA as others have suggested. You'll get more bang for your buck and you'll probably find it to be less work than getting another bachelor degree.

#11 of 28 OFFLINE   KurtEP

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Posted April 24 2008 - 01:05 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan X
Public accounting yes. But get an accounting degree and you can certainly find a good paying job working 40 hours a week. There are all kind of options beyond public accounting for someone with a degree in accounting-- the private sector and not-for-profit industries for example.

I'm a financial analyst for a not-for-profit hospital and the pay is very good and the hours and flexibility are fantastic. I can't remember the last time I put in OT. Yes, it can be monotonous at times, but I think any white collar job can be.

I would definately go for an MBA as others have suggested. You'll get more bang for your buck and you'll probably find it to be less work than getting another bachelor degree.

Accounting is a strange field. I worked as an auditor for over 10 years and met hundreds of different accountants in various capacities over the years. I also generally had access to their salary information as part of my job. All things considered, I'd say that only about 5% of them had a job that I would want to do. There is a lot of variation in the field. Some jobs are high powered and highly compensated, others, not so much. I've seen some really talented people working jobs where they'd probably make more money delivering newspapers, and I've seen some real idiots making some serious money. Often, it is a matter of being in the right place at the right time, or knowing the right people.

I tend to think you are rolling the dice when you go for accounting. You may be fortunate and end up in a great job that pays well and is challenging. I had one for a long time before I finally grew tired of it (and traveling 40+ weeks per year). On the other hand, there are lots of jobs in accounting that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Of course, your mileage may vary. I like complications, deadlines and pressure. A lot of people don't.
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#12 of 28 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted April 24 2008 - 01:21 PM

Quote:
There is a lot of variation in the field.

Yes there is. And I think that is a real benefit. Get a degree in accounting and you aren't limited to a career in "accounting". With an accounting degree you will be qualified for a wide variety of business career paths.

Quote:
I've seen some really talented people working jobs where they'd probably make more money delivering newspapers, and I've seen some real idiots making some serious money. Often, it is a matter of being in the right place at the right time, or knowing the right people.

That probably describes most job fields.

#13 of 28 OFFLINE   KurtEP

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Posted April 24 2008 - 01:30 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan X
With an accounting degree you will be qualified for a wide variety of business career paths.

One thing is certain, having at least some idea of how accounting works is very useful in the business world. I'm amazed at how many people try to get by without it.
Lay down your law books now, they're no damned good -- The Eagles

#14 of 28 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted April 25 2008 - 02:05 AM

Getting a third Bachelor's degree will in no way be easier than attaining a Master's degree. Getting another Bachelor's is going to require significantly more work than a Master's program would. More time, less flexibility as far as class/schedule. That is if any college will even accept you! It's unprecedented, virtually unheard of, for someone to go back to school for another bachelor's degree when they already hold two. Most schools will not have any way to handle the situation. Anyone you talk to at any school will look at you like you have two heads if you bring up your idea. The obvious answer sill be "why not get a Master's degree?".

Another option mentioned above is a postrgaduate certificate program in accounting or finance. This is probably your best option. You will learn only about what you need to learn, and you will have another line to put on your resume. Plus you will get the placement and contact connections of your school's carreer center. Some certificate programs overlap Master's programs so if you decide you want to go further you can give it a try. If there are undergrad prerequisites for the Master's or Certificate program (accounting 101, etc.), you'll have the authorization to take them without being in a degree program yet. If they are classes you would take in the first two years of a Bachelor's program, you can even take them at your local Community College, which would be financially advantageous!
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#15 of 28 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted April 25 2008 - 03:11 AM

Quote:
EDIT: Also, it might be worth taking a few of the grad school admissions tests like the GMAT and the LSAT. If you ace either one, you can begin to look pretty seriously at business or law school (hey, it worked for me). On the other hand, if you do poorly, time to look at other options.
I've heard of this before and find it a curious way of deciding one's future. Unless you're of uncommon intelligence, you need some serious motivation to do well on the LSAT (well enough to get into a well ranked school anyway, which is absolutely critical in law.) I would think said motivation would come from a commitment to legal education, rather than a tentative approach. And even then, law schools are full of miserable students who scored well enough on the LSAT, but were unprepared for the brutality of what follows. Similarly for school vs legal career.

In any case, guy said he didn't "want to work that hard", so that should immediately rule out a JD.

I too think some kind of professional certificate or license would be a good option.

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H

#16 of 28 OFFLINE   KurtEP

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Posted April 25 2008 - 05:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Holadem
I've heard of this before and find it a curious way of deciding one's future. Unless you're of uncommon intelligence, you need some serious motivation to do well on the LSAT (well enough to get into a well ranked school anyway, which is absolutely critical in law.) I would think said motivation would come from a commitment to legal education, rather than a tentative approach. And even then, law schools are full of miserable students who scored well enough on the LSAT, but were unprepared for the brutality of what follows. Similarly for school vs legal career.

Taking the test will at least tell you if you have some hope of getting in, and may even open up doors via a scholarship. Definitely food for thought if you are considering a career change. I wouldn't recommend putting a herculean effort into the LSAT unless you are pretty interested in going to law school. If you do very well without a lot of effort, it tells you that you probably have some aptitude in that direction (assuming that the testing people are right, and many people think they are).

By the way, I'm not really sure I'd describe law school as brutal. Challenging, sure, but not insurmountable by any means and a lot of fun in some instances. Some legal practice can be tough, but that isn't universally the case (or probably even the majority) either.



Quote:
In any case, guy said he didn't "want to work that hard", so that should immediately rule out a JD.

Probably so...
Lay down your law books now, they're no damned good -- The Eagles

#17 of 28 OFFLINE   Jason L.

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Posted April 28 2008 - 12:38 AM

I want to thank everyone for their responses. I never really thought of myself having two Bachelors degrees. I just thought I had one Bachelors degree with two majors [and a minor]. Now that I think back on it I had entertained the thought of going for a triple major. I only needed one more class. However, the school didn't recognize triple majors.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malcolm R
If possible, continuing at SUNY-Stony Brook for either degree would probably maximize your use of past credits. Do they offer any online programs that you could take from Dallas?
I want to look at somewhere else besides SUNY-Stony Brook. In Dallas, we have SMU [Southern Methodist University], which has a good reputation but is very expensive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KurtEP
If you like math, consider boning up on the old calculus and statistics and taking the actuary exams. They're hard, but actuaries make serious money and usually have great working conditions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kreisler
If you like number , you could always try Actuarial Science. They make good money, but it is very hard to get licensed.
The odds on making it through the 10 Actuarial exams would be on par with an average college basketball player making it to the NBA. That was the only job that other math majors could come up with when they thought about a career in the math field. I would wager that none of them made it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KurtEP
If you want accounting, look for a Master of Professional Accountancy or something similar (if that degree is still around).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Hamm
Another option mentioned above is a postrgaduate certificate program in accounting or finance. This is probably your best option. You will learn only about what you need to learn, and you will have another line to put on your resume.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malcolm R
You might also consider a technical certificate program or perhaps just an Associate Degree in accounting. It would indicate a continuing quest for education on your part and would likely be cheaper, faster, and just as useful as another BA. Just make sure it's an institution accredited by one of the major regional accrediting bodies.
These sound interesting. I have done a cursory search on online programs - my mind hasn't wrapped itself around the idea of getting a degree/certification and not seeing my teachers or classmates.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KurtEP
You might be able to open some doors with the right MBA program, but I probably wouldn't really bother unless you're going to a name school. I tend to think an MBA is a bit of BS, but I'm biased since I have one.
I agree with you on this. I remember my first job in the Finance district in Manhattan. It was a tedious, monotonous, unnecessary job. There was a co-worker in his mid-to-late thirties doing the same job. He had a MBA from St. John's University. I realized then that an MBA doesn't necessarily pay off. I also don't want to get an MBA because those students are usually entrepreneurial, Type-A, go-getter, "I'm going to change the world!" types. As I said earlier, I don't want to work that hard.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KurtEP
Accounting is a strange field. I worked as an auditor for over 10 years and met hundreds of different accountants in various capacities over the years.
Kurt, could you go into that further? I've met accountants who fall into 3 categories:
1. They aren't that busy.
2. They are always busy to the point they have no social life.
3. They are only busy around tax time.

Please keep the comments coming. They are a help to me.

#18 of 28 OFFLINE   KurtEP

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Posted April 28 2008 - 07:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason L.
Kurt, could you go into that further? I've met accountants who fall into 3 categories:
1. They aren't that busy.
2. They are always busy to the point they have no social life.
3. They are only busy around tax time.

Please keep the comments coming. They are a help to me.

Well, by type:

1. Typically the people I saw who weren't that busy were either controllers for small firms that were predictable and the job was nailed down or older guys who had paid their dues in some CPA firm for years and now had a cake CFO job with some firm. Of course, there are always others, but this seemed to be most of the ones that actually paid anything. Personally, I'd rather stab myself in the eye with a pencil than have the former job (boring, boring, boring), and the latter is usually reserved for people with decades of experience.

2. A lot of CPA's with strong practices or controllers/CFOs of challenging firms have these kinds of jobs. Many, but certainly not all of them, make lots of money. The challenge in jobs like this is often having more work than you have time to do it in, although sometimes there is a legitimate challenge. I did this kind of thing for years, although about 30% of my work was actually very challenging, the rest was too little time, too much work. Pays well, easy to burn out.
3. Only busy around tax time. Lots of CPAs fall into this bracket. Great if you don't mind doing much of your work over a three month period and spending the summer on the golf course drumming up business. That sort of work can be interesting, but it really depends on the client base. Might be difficult to get into a larger firm as a non traditional student, since they tend to be a lot more traditional than they let on.

There are also a lot of accountants in minor positions who don't work that hard but don't get paid that much. Typically, you get out of accounting what you put into it. Of course, as mentioned earlier, there are some pretty solid jobs out there if you have the right combination of skills. I know that when I graduated, someone with a strong IT background who was also an accountant was in high demand. Of course, I later found working with accounting information systems that the people who wrote a lot of the early ones were lucky if they understood what a debit was.
Lay down your law books now, they're no damned good -- The Eagles

#19 of 28 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted April 30 2008 - 07:29 AM

Quote:
I just want a professional job with health insurance that allows me to put in my 40 hours a week, go home, relax, and enjoy life.

Too bad you weren't born in the 1930s.

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I took the LSAT at age 38 and scored in the 94th percentile. I found law school a lot of fun but the hours that were demanded of me in any legal job made being a lawyer no fun at all.

Quote:
Might be difficult to get into a larger firm as a non traditional student

Tell it, brother!
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#20 of 28 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted May 01 2008 - 07:37 AM

Quote:
The short answer is: I don't want to work that hard.
I suggest you don't include that in your application.

I teach in a UK university, so things aren't perhaps quite the same (though I teach a fair number of US exchange students). However, in my experience:

(1) Students who plan to just coast through their studies with the minimum of effort will at best get mediocre grades and at worst end up retaking a lot more modules [I think you guys call these 'courses' - i.e. segments of a full degree] than other students.

(2) If tutors detect a student who can work but ain't trying, don't expect any favours or leniency.

In short, either study because you really want to, or don't bother.

Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I'm trying to do you a favour. In twenty or so years of university teaching, I've seen too many cases of students who plan to put in the minimum of effort to be able to sit back and watch it happen without comment.


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