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ASU transfer program puts student on path to accounting degree

Portrait of ASU transfer student Nicolette Rios with the words: "ASU is a great school for business majors and ASU Online makes it an easy choice!"
October 06, 2023

Nicolette Rios' path to higher education took an unconventional route.

At the age of 16, she was working at a preschool with no intention of pursuing college. However, as time passed, she began to feel unfulfilled and decided to make a change, enrolling at Phoenix College due to its flexibility and affordability.

Today, the Arizona State University transfer student is on her way to completing her online Bachelor of Science in accountancy with the W. P. Carey School of Business, thanks to ASU's transfer program, MyPath2ASU.

“I have seen what a transfer program looks like without a pathway, and it can be extremely stressful,” Rios said.

After completing her transfer degree at Phoenix College, Rios’ decision to continue her education through ASU Online was motivated by the university's reputation and robust online programs. Her choice was also influenced by how easy the transition was using MyPath2ASU, because of its role in providing clarity and support.

“ASU did a great job partnering with Phoenix College in creating a program that allows you to keep track of everything you'll need to transfer,” Rios said. “I was able to check off the list pretty easily and talk with an ASU advisor to ensure I was well-prepared to enter my major."

Rios’ advice to new transfer students is to embrace the challenge, reminding them that they have rightfully earned their place. Upon graduation, she aspires to obtain her CPA license and contribute to her local community through pro bono work.

ASU News spoke to Nicolette about her transfer experience.

Video courtesy ASU Academic Enterprise

Question: Who (or what) inspired you to pursue higher education?

Answer: I started working at a preschool at the age of 16, a job that I held for six years. During that time, I often told people that I wasn't going to go to college. I was certain that I could make it on my own. As the years passed, I started to feel less certain of myself. I knew that the things I wanted to achieve just wouldn't be possible where I was, and I found myself questioning whether I was smart enough to succeed in college. I had never fully completed my high school education because I was homeschooled during a time when the economy demanded that both my parents work, so I felt inadequate.

Eventually, I was so unsatisfied with where I was in life that I decided to make a plan: I would go to community college and see how I did. I was determined for something to change. I remember nervously sweating during the placement tests. I was afraid that I would do terribly and had spent two weeks studying for them. But I did way better than I had thought. I was shocked to find out that I wasn't as lost as I had felt and that my determination for something to change had actually paid off. Even better, I knew that if I applied that in the future, I would be successful. I had proven to myself that I was more capable than I thought. That discovery lit a fire in me to pursue higher education and be the best student I could be. 

Q: Why did you decide to attend community college? 

A: Maricopa (Community) Colleges made it easy to stay flexible because they had so many different campuses and the ability to take classes from multiple of their community colleges in order to earn a transfer degree. It was also very affordable since I was working full time to save up for a university transfer. I really enjoyed the cozy atmosphere as well; it felt close-knit and personal. 

Q: Were you involved in any clubs or organizations at your community college? 

A: I joined the Phoenix College Alumni Association when I graduated with my transfer degree. I had really enjoyed my time at the community college and wanted to stay connected as a proud alumni member. My long-term boyfriend also attended the college with me and it was really special to me that we got to graduate together and join the alumni network, especially since he decided to transfer to a different university. During my time there, I also joined Phi Theta Kappa. This was something my mom really encouraged me to do because my parents were very proud that I had achieved such a good GPA when I was at Phoenix College. She even surprised me at my graduation with the little gold tassel and stole. 

Q: Why (and when) did you choose your major? 

A: During my time as a preschool teacher, we were often short-staffed and as a result, it was hard for the director to maintain the office invoices without someone to help. One day, the school got a new billing system that no one understood how to run, and I volunteered to take a look at it and learn. I picked up the system right away — it was Microsoft Access-based — and began doing billing there when I wasn't teaching. After a while, I began to enjoy doing the work and realized that I wanted to pursue a career in bookkeeping. The more I looked into it, the more I discovered about different professions and eventually I stumbled upon accounting. Accounting was something I hadn't ever thought of, and when I did research into it, I learned that it was going to be a challenge. I had worked in the same profession for a long time at this point and wanted to push myself to try and achieve something I had never done before. I decided to make it my major after my first semester in community college, a semester in which I had managed to achieve a 4.0 GPA. It was a sign to me that I was ready and able. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU? 

A: I've heard a lot of positive things about ASU. Some of my friends went to the university and had mentioned how easy ASU made the process of transferring. I also did research into online degrees and found that ASU had one of the best online programs. That was really important to me as someone who works full time and stays active in sports. I love that I have the ability to attend online, but I still have the opportunity to participate in campus activities as well. 

Q: Are you involved in any clubs, organizations, research or internships? 

A: I have had the privilege of serving multiple internships over my college years and am proud to have worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers and Lincoln Financial Group. My internships have allowed me to build great working relationships with mentors that are able to pass on all sorts of different skills and create friendships with fellow interns that will last beyond graduation.

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