Deciding on the next step

MANY of you may be at a crossroads, trying to decide what to do next.

Some may be contemplating which undergraduate degree programme to pursue. Many of you are faced with difficult choices: Where to study? Which university or university college to go to? Are financial support, such as scholarships and loans available? Where will my friends be going? Which course/programme should I take? Does the university have a positive reputation and good track record? Are the teachers good, caring and helpful? Can I cope with the study load? What to expect when I first join the university? What are the accommodation options? Should I stay at the university hostel in my first year of study or should I rent a nearby place with some friends and stay there throughout my duration of study? Will I like the food, people and environment at the new place of study? The questions are endless.

Don’t worry, you are not the only one with these questions. Almost every secondary school leaver waiting to enrol into university face similar doubts and uncertainties.

This is particularly true when a science student has to make a decision on whether to take up science and engineering courses or to venture into the arts, humanities and social sciences.

As experienced accounting lecturers, we would like to share with you the experiences of a student who was from the science stream up to Form Six. The student did not have any foundation or basics in accounting but decided to pursue an accounting degree at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman in Perak for her undergraduate studies. We are happy to announce that she successfully graduated on time.

If you are a science student and wish to pursue a degree in accounting, then be prepared to learn subjects such as financial and management accounting, taxation, company law, finance, audit, accounting information system, English for business and management, quantitative techniques and economics. In your studies you will also be required to know financial reporting standards, auditing rules and tax laws, which are subject to changes from time to time. As these standards and laws are subject to changes, bear in mind that accountants and auditors in the profession have to constantly update themselves on these changes, and this can be done by fulfilling continuous professional development (CPD) hours.

Back to the question on whether a science student from a non-accounting background can pursue a degree in accounting, the conservative answer will be “it depends” whereas the optimistic answer will be “YES, YOU CAN”.

Science students who are interested in accounting and are willing to work diligently and put in the effort to master the subjects, have proven to be successfully able to graduate on time. However, there are also some students who are not as diligent and may find it difficult to cope with the study load. In summary, besides having real interest in the subject matter, we must also be willing to put in the effort and walk the extra mile to equip ourselves with the relevant skills and knowledge in order to not only ace our examinations, but also succeed in life.

You must have the right mindset, attitude and study techniques in order to excel in your studies. For example, in order to pass quantitative techniques (similar to mathematics and statistics), you will need to practise the tutorial questions and attempt the exercises in the textbooks. In order to pass company and business law, you will need to understand the main principles and remember the relevant cases that serve as points of arguments. If you attend classes regularly, be very attentive during lessons and consult the tutor/lecturer whenever you face difficulties, you will stand a higher chance of scoring. Remember, no pain, no gain. However, you must also take good care of your health by eating, sleeping and exercising right, with adequate amounts of well-deserved entertainment and “time off”, because everyone has a learning curve and we study best when our mind is fresh and focused, on top of being physically healthy. Remember the golden words of wisdom, “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy” and “you reap what you sow”.

Your ultimate objective of pursuing a degree is to possess the basic academic qualification to secure a good job upon graduation. Your degree is likened to a passport for you to enter into the working world.

Nevertheless, we must let you know that money is not everything. We know everyone desires a good job that pays well. However, at the end of the day, job satisfaction counts. Of course, it will be ideal if you have a well-paying job that you enjoy doing and derive great satisfaction when you are able to successfully accomplish your goals within the stipulated timeframe. We can only excel in the things that we truly enjoy doing and have strong interest in. This showcases the importance of pursuing a course that we have real passion in.

However, there have been many cases where the job that the fresh graduate landed in is different from the degree programme that he/she obtained. There are some outspoken and charismatic engineers and accountants with very strong interpersonal skills who ended up being ultra-successful real estate agents. Some entrepreneurial engineers even set up their own technological-cum-engineering firms and ended up as tech-savvy technopreneurs.

As seasoned academics, we would like to urge young school leavers who are indecisive about which undergraduate degree to pursue to seek advice from professional and experienced academic counsellors and have a tested-and-proven personality test done. From there, you can have some very good ideas about what career paths that best suit your personality and hence which degree programme you should pursue.

Students, you are at the prime of your life and the world is your oyster. Continue to reach for the stars and may you shine brightly, even though sometimes the sky is dark and gloomy.


Department of Commerce & Accountancy

Faculty of Business and Finance

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Kampar Campus), Perak

utar , accounting