University of Southern California

Jennifer Yue
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
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Jennifer Yue knew she wouldn’t just be a number at USC Leventhal School of Accounting. Still, she was surprised at the lengths faculty and staff take to get to know their students—and, even more important, to help them.

“All of the professors are really supportive,” says Jennifer, “and they all know you by name, which is completely different from a public university.”

Plus, the Master’s of Business Taxation (MBT) program carried a high—and highly personal—recommendation. Jennifer’s older sister earned her MBT from the Leventhal School, which was how Jennifer first learned about the program. “She loved it,” says Jennifer.

Leventhal’s excellent reputation closed the deal. “It’s consistently ranked among the top accounting programs,” she notes.

And with her younger brother now an undergraduate at the university, USC is becoming a sibling tradition. “We’re going to be an entire Trojan Family,” she says.

Mastering a taxing business

While her sister came to the MBT program with an undergraduate degree in accounting, Jennifer majored in political science. Still, she found the transition to the MBT program easier than she expected.

“A lot of what you do in political science is analysis,” she explains. “And that’s a lot of what you do for tax. There are numbers involved, but what’s more important is the theory behind it all. Congress writes a new code, and then you have to figure out what it means, how it works, and how it gets applied.”

Because Jennifer lacked an accounting background, she enrolled in the school’s summer intensive program—eight weeks of rigorous classes—to bring her up to speed for the official start of the MBT program in the fall.

“About half the students in our MBT class came from non-accounting backgrounds,” recalls Jennifer. “It doesn’t matter what your background, if you’re interested in accounting, they’ll be sure you are prepared. By the end of the summer intensive, you couldn’t even really tell who was an accounting undergrad and who wasn’t.”

Putting theory into practice

One of her favorite courses was Tax Theory and its Business Applications, taught by Jack Barcal, who also directs the MBT program. “You learn how the judicial announcements have really made a lot of the tax principles that we know today,” says Jennifer. “It’s taught like a law class, using the Socratic method.”

Plus, she adds, “Professor Barcal really knows what he’s talking about, and he loves it. His enthusiasm spills over into the rest of the class.”

Jennifer also appreciated Professor Barcal’s Family Wealth Preservation course. “That covers the best ways to manage your money and how to minimize taxes, so you can pass more wealth on to your children,” she explains.

In addition to what she learned in the classroom, Jennifer says she also benefited from the faculty’s expertise outside of the curriculum.

“So many Leventhal professors have had actual experience at accounting firms, so they know what it’s like. They’re able to offer you good advice—not just for school, but also for your career and your life.”