In need of some advice - Ithaca vs Mary Washington

Basically, I have come across two very different schools that I could potentially be interested in, I think they could both be academic matches for me. I just was wondering if anyone could help by sharing their opinions. By the way I am interested in Accounting or anything business related.

Disclaimer: I am sorry if anything is wrong, I’m just basing my pros/cons off of things I’ve heard. I also probably think about this stuff way too much, I just like to plan out my future.

School 1: University of Mary Washington (VA)
-Public, in state, very cheap
-Close to Washington DC and Richmond (and home)
-Liked the campus when I visited
-Like the area of Fredericksburg

-I’ve heard it’s kind of a commuter school
-Small business school
-Not a large internship presence (solely based off the b school website)

School 2: Ithaca College (NY)
-Good business school
-Good internship opportunities (opps in NYC)
-They have a lot of different things to pair with Accounting (Business analytics, info systems)
-I feel it would be a fun opportunity (something different than NoVa)
-Has a combined bachelors/masters program which would be really convenient

-It is private, which means it costs a lot more (Right now it’s in my family’s budget, it’s just a lot more expensive than UMW)
-I have never visited and I don’t know if/when I will be able to due to Covid
-I’ve heard it’s kinda in the middle of nowhere, far from NYC

Sorry if this was really long or formatted weirdly, I did it on my chromebook. At the end of the day, I realize the college I choose will be up to me, but I was hoping I could possibly get some insight.

Edited title for more info

Ithaca is in the middle of nowhere but if you like the outdoors, especially winter sports it would be nice. The surrounding area is beautiful. The town itself is small but pretty interesting. Lots of arts. Ithaca is known for it’s performing arts school. Cornell also shares the town. Syracuse is about an hour away. My S21 probably won’t apply to film school. He prefers a larger city/school.


Thank you for your insight to Ithaca. I like how it “looks on paper”, I just haven’t been able to visit it yet. I also don’t know if it’s worth it given that UMW is a lot cheaper. Thanks again!

Ithaca is popular with kids at my local high school. They give scholarships, both merit and athletic. It’s definitely worth applying. Still may cost more than MW but it could reduce your cost. My friend’s son is a chemistry major at IC. He likes it a lot and spent last summer at the school working for a professor (and presumably getting paid for it).

When you visited UMW, did you ask about internships? By the way, they also offer a lot of things to pair with accounting… statistics, data science, financial & quantitative analysis, actuarial science.

If I recall correctly, UMW’s financials are weak.

With a pre-pandemic endowment of around $50M, I would take a closer at Mary Washington’s financial standing including expenses, and bond company ratings.


Thank you for your input in Ithaca! I will definitely keep an eye out for some of those scholarships.


Unfortunately I visited during Winter Break, so there was no one from administration around to ask about internships. Also, I do see that UMW has other things to pair w/accounting, I just don’t know if the b school is as “strong” as Ithaca’s. I will keep researching. Thanks!


Is 50 mil good for state schools?

OP: That is the issue. Even though UMW has weak financials, it is a public school.

How dependent upon tuition revenue is UMW for operating expenses ?

Not sure, but I think that Forbes gave UMW a low rating for financial stability.


Thank you for clearing that up. Like you said it’s public and in state so it’s pretty cheap, but I don’t know how financials are “behind the scene.”

At one point, Moody’s withdrew its rating for the University of Mary Washington. But that was over 5 years ago. Issues with upkeep & maintenance of campus facilities.

But, as a public university, the state might step in to help with more funding.

I cannot find a recent article that caused me serious concern about this school’s financial health & viability.

Sorry to raise the issue without documentation.

No problem, thanks for bringing that to light. I had no idea.

I did find the current budget online (2018-2020) for UMW. Seems fine.

Apparently the state of Virginia has substantially increased its support of UMW since Moody’s 2012 withdrawal of its rating.

UMW relies on tuition & fees for 50% of its operating budget.

In short, the finances do not appear to be an issue of concern. Sorry for raising it without supporting documentation or articles.

For accounting majors, if you want to pursue auditing / assurance, then UMW is fine. If paired with business analytics or MIS as you noted in your original post, then job prospects are even better.

If accounting is your passion / strong interest, then you should consider taking your fifth year (if intent on becoming a CPA) in a masters degree program.

One of the Big 4 accounting firms–KPMG–has developed masters curriculums in Accounting & Data Analysis as well as a Masters in Taxation & Data Analysis. These masters programs are currently offered at 8, maybe 9, universities throughout the US.

Some of the KPMG masters degree universities are: University of Mississippi, Univ. of Missouri, Baylor (no KPMG scholarships at this school), Ohio State University, Villanova University, USC, Arizona State (ASU), the Univ. of Georgia, and maybe one other that I cannot recall.

P.S. One does not need an expensive or prestigious college degree to become a Big 4 accountant–especially for the audit / assurance area. Mostly concerned with GPA. Data analytics / data analysis should yield lots of job interviews when paired with an accounting degree.

An accounting degree paired with data analytics / business analytics, MIS, CS should make one attractive to the consulting or advisory divisions within accounting firms. This pays more than does the “bread & butter practic” of audit / assurance.


Wow thank you for going in depth with all of that. One of my career goals right now would be to get to a Big 4 firm for either tax/audit. I feel based off some of my research, Ithaca would seem to be better for that (more b4 rep on campus, strong alumni network, built in 5th year masters) I just don’t know if all of that is worth it given the substantially higher price than at UMW. Again, thanks for all of the help.

If you want to save money, then UMW with a masters from any of the 8 universities with the KPMG designed curriculum should get you a Big 4 interview or interviews.

If you want audit / assurance, then earn the Masters in Accounting & Data Analysis.

If you want an option of tax or audit / assurance, then the Masters in Taxation & Data Analysis would be the better degree.

Both appear to be good options (Ithaca & UMW). If both are afforable without taking out substantial amounts in student loans, then personal preference.

Lots of hot markets for an accounting career–does not need to be in New York City. (Finance, yes, accounting, not necessary.)

Interesting markets in Texas (Houston & Dallas) for those who specialize in oil & gas taxation or accounting. Lots of jobs in California (LA, Orange County, Silicon Valley, San Francisco) Atlanta, Denver, Chicago and several other cities can get your career started in a sophisticated accounting practice area with a Big 4.


Thanks again, you have been a really big help. I will keep all of your suggestions in mind.

For KPMG scholarships (which leads to nationwide job placement options), google KPMG scholarships for masters in data analysis. These scholarships include tuition, fees, room & board stipend, internship & permanent job offer.

Not sure, but I think that one needs to apply during one’s junior year of college.


Thanks, now I have a new goal that I can work towards when I get to college!