WHAT MAKES STUDENTS CHOOSE TO STUDY TOWARDS BECOMING CA’s ?
AND WHAT DO THEY WISH THEY KNEW BEFORE MAKING THEIR DECISION ?
In my mother’s teenage years, the professions you could aspire to were limited to becoming a teacher, nurse or a lawyer. Her generation (especially in disadvantaged backgrounds) had limited resources, knowledge and information available to them, hence their spectrum of aspiration was so limited. Even today, during my third year of studies, I still find myself having to explain to my parents what a CA exactly is, what attracted me to the profession, am I certain that this is my passion? And most importantly, will I be financially secure in the future?
On campus, I am exposed to diverse young people who are open minded like me, excited to learn and forward thinking…millennials. I am constantly interacting with other fellow CA students, students from other fields of study and our lecturers who are slightly older than us but also relatable. During these interactions, I keep discovering that even my peers do not have a clear understanding of what CAs do and they have outdated knowledge about the career, such as thinking that CAs are merely just bookkeepers, number crunchers and that Auditors are boring, LOL!
So, If you have also been in the dark about the profession, maybe my reflection about why I chose to study it and also my peers’ reasons that they have shared with me, can put you in the limelight.
When I was in grade 12 and it was time for to me to choose what I wanted to study in Varsity, I won’t lie, I was clueless! This was mainly because my career interests kept changing as I was growing up and become more knowledgeable. In first grade, I wanted to be a teacher because I thought I loved working with the other kids. Nothing changed my passion for education and working with other young people but I honestly was just not impressed with how much teachers actually earn.
Fast forward to early high school years, I wanted to become a doctor hence I did Life Science, Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Accounting as my main subjects in grade 10. In those three years, I discovered that I enjoyed Mathematics and Accounting more. Now, as a curious individual, having to choose one specific career that you will be doing for the rest of your life can create indecisiveness. In summary: I chose to study to become a CA because of how flexible the profession allows you to be, as there are endless possibilities. I can choose to branch into Academia and become an even better teacher, that is a University lecturer. Or I can go into the corporate world, which I am hoping to do, and eventually become a Financial Advisor, Financial manager, Tax consultant or even a Chief Executive Officer of my own company. Many of my peers studying CA share the same sentiments regarding their career.
Some of the reasons included:
- Students have people, whether close to them or those they see as role models, becoming CAs and they grow up shadowing them and they pretty much like the idea and what they have seen a CA’s life to be.
- Because it is challenging. One student told me that he still remembers sitting his first Financial Accounting class in first year and the lecturer told them to forget whatever their Accounting teacher told them in High School because it was only partly true.
- “I chose CA because, I had maths phobia, science phobia so CA was my only option left.”
- “In matric, I hadn’t made up my mind yet but I knew I wanted go onto the business world and and CA has many options available for me”
- I also received the famous: ”I love numbers” reply, which I am always not happy with because I feel like it is not clear enough.
- Many students liked the fact they get to be hands-on and know the exact operations of a company and why and how certain things occur.
- Financial and job security.
- It is a well-rounded profession and has a broad spectrum.
- Being constantly updated about the economic issues around the world
- It is innovative and begins with mentored work experience, such as the training.
- International recognition.
- Having the CA(SA) after your name,LOL!
As much as the career promises to have many benefits for the student, there are a few things that they wish they had known prior to deciding to study it. Most students wish they knew exactly what a CA does. We were told and read that a CA does almost everything in business, they are in demand and that we will earn a lot. All of this may be true but where are the actual details of what goes on during training and post training? Some wish they knew the risks associated with the industry such as the 4th industrial revolution and the implications it has for future CA’s. That it is not easy, many students shared with me that they’ve had their fair share of breakdowns and almost giving up during the course of their studies.
I also spoke to a few people that I know that are now Stellenbosch Alumni and are now currently doing their Articles training. The one thing they all agreed on is that they wish someone had told them about how difficult it is and how completely different things are in the workplace from Varsity. About the sacrifices one has to make and how important self-discipline is. The workload when training, they feel like the profession was overly advertised to them and they were not told about the ugly side of it. “Just because you are good in Accounting, it does not mean you will excel in this profession”, this is what one trainee said to me. Accounting is a part of it but it is a different ball game and very wide spectrum.
The University students were complaining about the long hours we have to spend, on and off campus, going through our work. We have to spend hours mastering the content, understanding the principles behind it and its application. So, for some students, not having an active social life can become depressing and some do fall out along the way and just drop their studies. Ideally, it takes seven years to finally qualify as a CA, there may be failed attempts when writing the board exams and this can be discouraging.
Unemployment is one of the big socioeconomic issues in SA, most students expressed this. Being a CA gives you more chances of being employed than any other career.
DISCLAIMER: The material and information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. You should not rely upon the material or information in this article as the basis for making any business, legal or other decisions.