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MAC Program 101: Questions and Answers with Current MAC Students

Author: Ashleigh

MAC Program 101: Questions and Answers with Current MAC Students

To give prospective students an opportunity to read about other current MAC students’ experiences in the MAC Program, I decided to change things up this week and ask students questions I had before starting the program. I also threw in my answers as to hopefully cover all of the topics on your minds. Hopefully this will provide a broad perspective of what it is like to be in the MAC Program!

What was the biggest adjustment for you when coming to the MAC Program at NC State from a smaller school? What advice would you give?

The biggest adjustment for me when coming to the MAC Program at NC State from a smaller school, was familiarizing myself with the area and meeting new people. Luckily, the size of the program helped me to get to know everyone quickly, which in turn helped me to learn the ins and outs of Raleigh. My two pieces of advice to those traveling from a distance to a much larger program than the one they were previously enrolled in would be to say yes and to be outgoing. You must be willing to converse with others and forge new relationships all while saying yes to the occasional social event or group study session (mostly group study sessions). This will help you make the most of your time in the MAC Program and make friendships that will last a lifetime. –Victor

Although I did attend NC State for undergrad, it was still somewhat of a change because most of my friends and classmates had graduated. Fortunately, the MAC Program does a lot of things that help students get to know one another such as bowling, tailgates, trivia, and more! –Ashleigh

As someone who also attended NC State for their undergraduate degree, what was the biggest change or challenge you experienced with the transition?

The biggest challenge I experienced with the transition was adapting to the change in expectations. Coming into the MAC program I believed the program would be a 5th year, continuation of my undergrad at NC State. However, I quickly found this not to be the case. In comparison to NC State undergrad, the NC State MAC program expects students to interact in the classroom more, work in teams more, and to present to the class more. Also, in the MAC program there is the expectation to think critically and independently. Unlike in undergrad, answers are usually not found in a textbook. However, though the new expectations were originally a challenge, they have made me a more well-rounded, competent professional. –Sarah

I think Sarah said it perfectly. The best way for me to explain this is to approach grad school as a full-time job. Many students soar through undergrad with little effort and studying, so if that is the case for you you’re in for a big culture shock! The reading lists are longer, the projects are harder, and the exams are more extensive. However, do not let this deter you! There are few better feelings than being properly prepared for a hard test and walking out knowing you did well. –Ashleigh

What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone coming into the MAC Program next year?

I have two pieces of advice I would give to incoming MAC students. I recommend spending time in Nelson and befriend other students. The program at times can be very stressful, and having resources and people to bounce your ideas off of can stretch your mind and facilitate the learning process. The stressful nature also forges friendships that you will be able to leverage long after your time in the program. The one caveat I would give to the advice of spending time with your fellow MAC students is to carefully balance productivity from socializing to avoid getting behind. –Cody

My biggest piece of advice would be to network with other students as soon as possible, that way you can form not only connections for the future, but you can form study groups for your classes. Knowing other students who understand the part of the material you may be struggling with will help you exponentially on projects, quizzes, and tests! Also, do not be afraid to go to the professors if there is something from class you are struggling with. They know the material best and are always willing to help. –Ashleigh

What was your favorite part about studying abroad in Prague?

Having the opportunity to take one of my classes early (and lighten my class load during the regular semesters) while traveling to another country and being submerged in that culture was my favorite part about studying abroad in Prague. Traveling abroad is definitely a quick way to bond with other people as well, so having those relationships with other MAC students developed when we started the fall semester was a great advantage, especially in a program that is so group-project intensive. The course that I took while in Prague was a Business Sustainability elective so it was also really neat to see the differences between our cultures view on sustainability and the European view on sustainability. –Laura

I have spoken about my experiences in Prague in a previous blog, so I will try to keep this short. This experience is one of the best that I had throughout my duration in the MAC Program. You will learn so much in such a short period time, as well as gain a greater perspective on the world and have a new appreciation for other cultures. Going to Prague also gave me the opportunity to become close with some of my classmate, which proved to be beneficial in future study groups and project! –Ashleigh

As someone who took summer classes before the start of the MAC Program, would you recommend them to future students?

I would absolutely, 100 percent, recommend taking summer classes if you have even the slightest chance. Although I cannot comment on the study abroad opportunities during the summer, getting one or two classes out of the way to lighten your load in the fall and spring is a great idea. I personally took Bonnie Hancock’s business course and Bruce Branson’s financial accounting course. By doing this, I took a class off my fall and spring semesters, and it could not have been a better decision. I cannot imagine my schedule now with a part-time tax and accounting job, recruiting in the fall, and a full class load for school. Please consider taking a summer class if at all possible. –Max

I would definitely recommend taking summer classes! I took two classes the summer prior to my first full semester as a MAC student, one class each session, and I don’t know how I would have been able to fit those classes into my fall or spring semester without being completely overwhelmed. The first class I took was generally a spring semester class, while the second class was a fall semester class. This enabled me to lighten my fall semester during recruiting (a VERY busy time in the program), and during the spring where students usually take some of the hardest courses in the program. It is also a great way to really concentrate on some of the more difficult courses since I was only enrolled in one class at a time and there were no other events to worry about, unlike during the full time portion of the program. Overall, I would suggest to incoming students to definitely consider taking summer courses, especially if you will be going through recruiting, but even students who will not have to go thorugh recruiting, it is a great way to get ahead, meet classmates, and lower your stress levels during the remainder of the program! –Kristy

I would absolutely, 100 percent, agree with Max. There are times throughout the MAC Program where there are many projects or tests all in one week, so having a lighter load can help you get through those times. I took two summer classes as well, so my fall and spring semesters were lighter, which allowed me to have a part-time job! –Ashleigh

What was the most difficult part of the recruiting process?

The most difficult part of the recruiting process was time management. I learned very quickly that the key to time management during the recruiting process was to work on my assignments ahead of time and to keep all lines of communication open with my group members. All of the students in the MAC program, whether they were going through the recruitment process or not, understood the pressure and time constraints of recruiting. As long as I communicated my recruiting schedule with my group members, they were willing to work with my schedule to complete our assignments. –Simona

Like Simona said, managing my time was the most difficult part of the program. Although I took summer classes which allowed me to only have 13 credit hours in the fall, I also have a part-time job that takes up about 15 to 20 hours a week. During recruiting it was crucial that I stay on top of my school work so I would not fall behind or let my grades suffer. –Ashleigh

What is it like working while in the MAC Program?

This is my second year of two in the MAC program as a part-time student. I have been working full-time while taking two classes at a time. Only taking two classes has alleviated some of the stress associated with balancing homework, projects and tests for five classes. I have also been able to spread out some of the classes that I knew were more labor intensive so that I was not taking them at the same time. However, it has definitely been challenging. Sometimes it has seemed impossible. I have had some very long days and extremely late nights. There have been some days that I go to work at 7:30 AM and don’t get home until 10:00 PM. I have learned the true meaning of time management and prioritization. It seems that sleep and social life consistently sink to the bottom of the list.

Here is some of the advice I have for someone that is considering working full-time while in the MAC program:

  • Make sure you have a conversation about work flexibility with your supervisor/manager. The latest MAC class starts at 4:30 PM so this means you will miss the end of the work day at least twice a week.
  • Evaluate your time management skills before you make your decision. If you are know this is a weak area for you, going into the MAC program while working full-time may not be the best decision.
  • Think about how well you deal with stress. You will be stressed beyond imagination.
  • Remember it is only temporary. You will eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel and it feels good to look back at what you have accomplished over the last two year.
  • Have fun. Take any opportunity you have to do something fun with your friends or go out of town for the weekend.


Unlike Alison, I only worked part-time while in the MAC Program, but my experience was pretty much the same. I too would take the latest class times available so I could work the mornings and up until class time. It was stressful at times, especially on test days when I wished I could be reviewing the material during that time, but I learned to manage my time better as the semester went on. –Ashleigh

What has been your favorite class so far in the MAC Program? Why?

My favorite class in the MAC Program was Audit. Professor Showalter does an excellent job keeping the class engaged and interesting. The class is tied into the real world and also does an excellent job preparing you for the CPA exam. The material is based on real cases and helps the students understand the situations they may be in once they start work. Thomas

My favorite class in the MAC Program was also Professor Showalter’s audit class. As someone going in the audit, I felt the material really related to what I would be doing after I graduate. The class is also filled with homework, quizzes, group and individual projects, and exams that help you to apply the material you go over in class. In addition, while studying for the audit section of the CPA exam I noticed a HUGE overlap in material, which helped boost my confidence while studying. –Ashleigh