By Arial Starks
The Vanderbilt Business Master of Accountancy (MAcc) Program partners with liberal arts colleges and universities to provide opportunities for undergraduate students across the U.S. to jump-start careers in public accounting. Through the alliance program, Vanderbilt MAcc candidates from qualifying undergraduate institutions receive several benefits, including a $10,000 base scholarship and admission to Vanderbilt during their junior year.
One alliance school is Franklin & Marshall University, a private liberal arts college located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In this partner school spotlight, we spoke with Class of 2022 student Jake Wetzel and alum Sarah Berger (MAcc’18) who discuss how the alliance school program has contributed to their career goals and success.
How the students came to find Vanderbilt MAcc
Around the beginning of his senior year of undergraduate studies at Franklin & Marshall, Jake Wetzel discovered his passion for finance and accounting. He began researching graduate-level programs that would align with his passion and lead to potential career paths of interest, which ultimately led him to the Vanderbilt MAcc Valuation Program.
“A lot of the Master of Accountancy programs I found mainly focused on auditing, whereas Vanderbilt took a unique approach and split the degree into 2 different tracks, where one side is Assurance, which is your typical auditing route, and the other is Valuation, which is more of a blend of finance and accounting, and that really drew me to Vanderbilt,” said Wetzel.
Sarah Berger discovered her love for accounting around her sophomore year at Franklin & Marshall. She spoke with her advisor about her educational and career aspirations and ultimately decided a MAcc degree would be necessary for her to accomplish her goals. When looking into business schools and programs, Berger was attracted to the Vanderbilt MAcc by the short time to completion for the degree.
“I was intrigued by the Mod schedule at Vanderbilt, because other programs I looked into only offered certain required courses during certain semesters. The Mod schedule is really built for people like me, who need to be able to fit all the classes they need in the order they need them, which allows you to just be more efficient with your time. With most other programs, even though they say it’s a year, it would have really taken me about a year and a half to fit the classes into my schedule, whereas at Vanderbilt business I was able to get it all done in that 12-month timeframe,” said Berger.
The Franklin & Marshall/ Vanderbilt Business experience
Wetzel says moving from a small liberal arts school in Pennsylvania to a large city like Nashville was an adjustment for him, but since his time at Vanderbilt Business, he has been able to transition thanks to the sense of community within the MAcc program.
“It’s a big step, moving to a whole new city and having to meet all new people, which has been stressful at times getting adjusted to all of that, but now I am in a spot where I’ve built that level of comfort, and I’ve gotten pretty close to a lot of different people in the program. That has allowed me to do everything I set out to do in the program so far, which is build human capital, continue improving on those finance and accounting skills, and then ultimately land a job. Now I’m happy I can sit back and relax a little and enjoy Nashville,” he said.
Berger said though she came from a small school like Franklin & Marshall, she found comfort coming to the Vanderbilt MAcc program knowing the size of the program was small and intimate.
“Vanderbilt is a much larger school than the one I came from, but the MAcc program within the business school and then the business school within the larger Vanderbilt University made the bridge easy, because I still had that close-knit community.
She was also drawn to Vanderbilt due to its location in Nashville. “I am from New York, and I went to school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, so the idea of moving to Nashville for even a year was exciting. Vanderbilt also just has that reputation I was looking for as far as networking and connections. I knew that I could go to school in Nashville and still have the choice of finding a job in New York where I’m from, if I wanted to.”
Advice for Franklin & Marshall students
The main advice both Berger and Wetzel have for Franklin & Marshall College students looking into the Vanderbilt MAcc program is to, first and foremost, do your research.
“Make sure you keep your options open and look around. You definitely want to pursue the opportunity; you don’t want to think about it for so long that you potentially miss the opportunity to apply. Also visit the campus if you have the chance, I think once you actually get here and see the school and the city, the atmosphere is quite awesome,” said Wetzel.
Berger encourages Franklin & Marshall students who are on the fence about pursuing the Vanderbilt MAcc to reach out to the network of faculty and alumni at Vanderbilt Business for tips and advice.
“I was able to connect with 2 Franklin & Marshall graduates who were in the class ahead of me, and it was really helpful to talk to them to learn more about the program and hear about their experiences. If there are any students who ever wanted to talk to me about my experience, I’d be more than willing, because I just want to pay forward the kindness and sense of community I was exposed to during my time in the program,” said Berger.
To learn more about Vanderbilt’s Alliance Program, click here.