Advice for nervous HS Senior: Traditional Unis vs LACs

For context: I'm a senior who, after job-shadowing in 2 firms and doing lots of research, wants to get into consulting eventually.

My main problem is that while I want to explore LACs, I've come under the impression that they may not live up to the standards of an undergrad business school like Stern (NYU),Marshall (USC), McDonough (Georgetown) or even Northwestern. So if I were to apply and go to Bowdoin or CMC would that be unfavorable for getting into consulting?  

That being said, networking is also paramount to getting into consulting, so would LACs allow me to network as effectively as a business school given that they're feeders to some of the top wall street firms? Secondly, would an urban setting be more advantageous for this?

Also, if there are any at all, which LACs would you'll recommend for consulting? I'd ideally like to major in Economics.

I look forward to your advice. Thank you!

Most Helpful

Recently graduated from a top LAC and recruited into MBB, so will speak on the pros and cons of recruiting for consulting from a top LAC. Unfortunately can't speak on the experience of LACs in general or those larger universities, maybe someone else can help you there. 


  • We didn't have an accounting/business program. Off the bat this means several of the larger firms (think EY-Parthenon, S&, etc.) were less interested in us and so there wasn't a clear pipeline into these firms. We still sent kids here because we're a competitive school and have a great alumni network, these firms just didn't put in the extra effort to send representatives to our school for coffee chats, presentations, etc. 
  • We're a small school in general (as are most LACs), so it just doesn't make sense for a lot of firms to come out and visit us for chats, presentations, on-campus interviews, etc. 


  • IF (and this is a big IF depending on the college) your school has a strong track record in a specific firm OR there are higher-ups in the firm that are active alumni, this can create a pipeline into a firm. This is true for us in 2/3 MBBs. We regularly send 4-5 full-times, and 2-3 interns to one of them, and 1-3 full-times, 1-2 interns to another one like clockwork. (This is a decent amount considering these are smaller schools and we have <60 students recruiting on a regular basis) This is also true for a few boutique consultancies and some of the economic consulting firms. Less true for Big 4 or the T2 firms. Not sure how you'd be able to figure this out from the outside, maybe a Linked-In cross-reference? But that might not even be accurate. Regardless, I'd say this likely applies to the top LACs. 
  • We have a great network. Alumni are willing to chat and help out all the time, which is helpful to learn about firms, industries, recruiting processes, etc. This is less true for larger universities where 100+ are reaching out to the same alumni, whereas we have maybe two dozen reaching out to any single alum. This gives the alumni more bandwidth to help the students out. 

It's great to maximize exit ops, and I'm happy to share this info, but you shouldn't close yourself off to other possibilities. Especially if you go to a LAC, you'll have exposure to a wide breadth of different fields and opportunities to explore post-grad via close relationships with classmates from different backgrounds and diverse interests which could potentially be more appealing to you than consulting. Overall advice would be to just go to the school you think you fit best with and maximize your college experience (not in the go party and have fun way, but in the finding yourself, areas you want to explore, and what interests/challenges you way). 


Thank you for the information!... You mentioned that your college sent in a considerable amount of students into these top firms, but wouldn't that mean it would be excessively competitive to land the job? I assume this would be even harder without the campus recruitment of other unis.  Secondly, what did you end up majoring specifically in you LAC before landing your job?


Sounds like it might be Bowdoin.. good number of polar bears at Bain (incl. head of NA Private Equity Practice) & McKinsey, with a few at BCG, but almost no on-campus presence from the T2 consultancies lol


It's always competitive to land jobs at MBB, these firms have <1% hiring rates for all applicants. Considering we'd usually send 5-15% of students recruiting into consulting into these firms, I'd say we had an easier path than average. As far as consulting in general, we have decent hit rates at some smaller boutique firms and the economic consultancies, and a little bit of pull at T2 firms, and so I'd imagine we have similar, if not easier, recruiting processes into these firms than from the average school for non-MBB. 

Major is irrelevant at the top LACs when it comes to MBB recruiting. From my school, students majoring in Black History, Art, Biology, Music, or Math all got into these firms at about the same rate. Not sure if this is true at larger universities, but from my school the firms did not care what we were majoring in as long as we were prepared for the interviews, had a decent GPA, and a decent resume. As far as all of consulting, maybe it'd be smart to major in Econ, Math, or Physics, but I'm not sure how significantly that would contribute to a more successful recruiting process in a vacuum. 


If you get into Williams/Amherst, you should probably go to those (there's merit to being surrounded by top students not just interested in business). If not, then decide based on fit since the other LACs still place pretty well (imo at least as well as Stern/Marshall for consulting). Also Northwestern is a consulting powerhouse, only after HYPSW imo.


Thank you!... Would schools like Claremont Mckenna or Pomona be as good for this given their specialty in Economics? And would LACs like Bowdoin or Swarthmore be unheard of by employers?


Bowdoin and Swarthmore would definitely be perceived well by MBB on the East Coast, and likewise for Claremont and Pomona on the West Coast.


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