What is Accounting Class Like? (What to Expect in Class)

So maybe you have thought about becoming an accounting major in college.

It’s great to have an idea of what to expect for the classes before even taking them we’re going to give some insight into what taking accounting classes is like and how this varies with different accounting classes.

woman taking accounting class

What are Some Accounting Classes Taken in College?

Most college accounting majors take a sequence of accounting classes that are similar. And that first year I will often take an intro to accounting or accounting 101 class.

Taking a look at this class, it will go over the very basics of accounting, general principles of accounting, financial statements, as well as debits and credits. You’ll get homework to work through basic accounting problems and reinforce beginner concepts.

Most of accounting 101 classes will be lecture based by a professor and don’t include any high-level math.

There is a common misconception that accounting has hard math but it is quite opposite. You’ll never really face any hard math in accounting class. Instead, you’ll most likely find that the concepts in accounting can be hard to grasp, especially at first.

Getting Past the First Year of Accounting Class

From experience, the first year of accounting classes are generally the hardest. It is like learning a new language but in the business sense. Debits and credits don’t come naturally to a lot of students in class.

It isn’t uncommon for accounting students to find a tutor in their first year or all of their years in college. You shouldn’t be afraid or embarrassed, a tutor in accounting only helps you get a better understanding of the class material. 

Once you get past the beginner levels of accounting then you’ll have a good base of concepts that are carried into other accounting classes. Stick with it in that first year and put in a lot of effort.

At the end of the first year is where people will continue on with accounting classes or switch majors.

Read More:

How Long Does It Take to Get Your CPA? (Timeline to a CPA)

How Hard are College Accounting Classes?

college accounting classes

All this talk of people quitting in year one and you’d assume college accounting classes are hard. That’s not really the case. With a bit of time and good instruction, anyone should be able to understand accounting concepts.

The downfall of a lot of accounting students is not taking the time to study, not doing homework problems and not taking adequate notes in class. These are three things you can control with a bit of effort.

If you are proactive in accounting class, asking questions and working through the problems then you will find that college accounting classes are not that hard.

Higher Level Accounting Classes: What to Know

After the basic accounting classes, you’ll move on to more specialized accounting classes. These often include:

Audit and Attestation

 There are really two big paths after college accounting, audit and tax unless you go to a smaller firm that has you work in both. While a course in audit is required in most college accounting majors, it is certainly worth it.

You get a bit of exposure to auditing, why audits are conducted, how they are completed and dive into the process of setting risk and testing accounts. It may all sound foreign but it isn’t a hard course. The course is just more building on your earlier years of study.


mandatory taxation class

Taxation is the other big path after college for accountants.  Again, it is usually a mandatory class for most accounting majors. You’ll get a flavor for state and federal tax, often at the individual and corporate levels.

Some classes in taxation may even go further to specialize in small business taxation, partnership or non-profit taxation. Every accountant should have some understanding of taxation and there is a whole section tested on the CPA exam so we highly recommend taking a tax class.

Cost Accounting

Every thought about being a plant controller after college or running your own business? Cost accounting courses in college go over inventory costing. They touch on accounting for the cost of goods as they move through the production and supply chain processes.

If you live in an area where there is manufacturing plants or you want to make your own product then this type of accounting class can be right up your alley. Now for a fair warning, cost accounting can be tricky.

A lot of students regard it as one of the harder accounting courses offered in college. Sometimes it is even an elective and not one of the required classes for an accounting major.

You should really take advantage of the opportunity to challenge yourself if a cost accounting course is offered. By taking a course in cost accounting, you can almost always guarantee yourself a job if you understand the material.

What is Accounting Class Like? Final Thoughts

Accounting class is more based on your ability to study and work through problems than doing actual difficult math. Many students find that after a year of accounting classes, they will either stick with it or switch majors to something like general business.

As long as you put in the effort and get a tutor if needed, we’re confident that you can learn accounting. Make use of the many resources out there and you’ll be able to excel through accounting classes. They aren’t as hard as they are made out to be!

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