Life Altering Dilemma/Pivotal Decision, Give Me your take. USC vs Cornell (I swear its different)

First and foremost I would like to apologize for the heinous clickbait title. I had to get your attention somehow, and quite honestly, the title isn't far off from how I feel.

I finished my freshman year at a CC in Los Angeles and was offered transfer admission to Cornell Dyson and USC Marshall (Spring/2nd Semester Admit*) for my upcoming sophomore year. The price is the same, and I am fine with adapting my lifestyle to either college/campus. I am looking to pursue PE/IB/high-level finance and possibly buy-side finance (yes, I know I'm probably not that guy) after school. I know Cornell is better on the East Coast (and because of that arguably overall) in terms of placement for finance but my dilemma comes from a job opportunity I have here in LA.

*Although kind of a pain I am not worried about being a Spring admit. I'll do my first semester at my current CC and I have made sure that USC finance clubs do allow second-semester admits during the fall when they have yet to technically become part of USC. However, if you are a past or present Trojan and think I should be worried in any way please let me know.

I am a part of a small 3-person management team of a "start-up" company that is already pretty impressive in terms of its accomplishments and profitability. We have multiple contracts with big well-known companies that we service around the world and are growing by the day. I started there by doing small tasks but have gotten to the level now where I think I would not have the opportunity to do the work I do here in any other corporation/job without serious tenure. This work experience so far has been incredibly eye-opening and I feel that it's a business education like no other. Going the way I am now I could secure a small piece of the business and possibly make CFO later down the line or worst case scenario work right beside him.

My dilemma is whether I should attend USC and be closer to what this company has going on here or fly across the country to attend Cornell. Although I already have an offer to continue my work online while in New York being so far away will limit my growth and cut me off from making a lot of connections that I could be making through work if I were to stay in LA. Also, I personally think that because of Cornell's secluded campus you need to be a bit more dedicated to school activities to enjoy and really get the benefit of the school such as Greek life (which I'm fine with) which could also minimize the amount of time I will have to work. If I were to attend Cornell I could see myself kind of being forced to half-a** work and school extra-curriculars or having to leave the company altogether to actually thrive and get the most out of Cornell. At USC I'm afraid I might be secluding myself to a very small part of the world in terms of my future career opportunities. Also, a thing to keep in mind is that this company I work at is not in the finance sector. However, if/when we look for funding I will be working closely with whomever we chose to facilitate our funding from the client side. (I don't know if this aids me from a hiring standpoint for finance but I think it will be an educational experience). While I lose prestige points by going to USC instead of Cornell I feel that the connections I've been and will develop will somewhat be more valuable if I happen to turn out to be anything successful in this company. From people who I've talked to who are "successful" in the world of finance and Wallstreet I've been told that showing up and working at a successful start-up can do me more favors than either of these schools can just by themselves, but I wanted to get your take.

I know that this is primarily about assessing risk and opportunity cost. I see a great future for this company and my place in it and hope that it pays so well that my only worry in life down the line is figuring out who the hell has my long island iced tea and why in God's name is it not at my beachfront Cabana, (I literally told them to bring it 5 minutes ago), rather than working 90 hour work weeks, but I am fine with both. I have a rare and very fortunate opportunity of pursuing this start-up opportunity while also safeguarding myself with a degree and education that can put me into finance as well (yes, I know clubs, networking, and reading those M&I guides will still take a lot of my time). If I had a close-ended question I guess it would be if hypothetically this start-up does as well as its doing now (mid-8-figure evaluation) or better and I have an important role within it does that alongside a business degree at USC out-class an education at Cornell (lets assume GPAs are equal at both schools) in terms of how finance employers will look at me both on the West and East coast? In your opinion what is the right play here? Am I not considering/missing something?

I welcome all takes. Thanks.

Comments (5)

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jul 24, 2022 - 10:38pm

Cornell and don't look back. The ivy league network is very helpful. Grind to get into finance clubs and build good relationships with the upperclassmen. IB is well within reach, and once you land that you're well positioned for PE

Jul 25, 2022 - 12:09am
mysteryroop, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Well if you go to Cornell you will have a better network of individuals that are able to guide you so that you don't have to ask these questions to a bunch of random strangers on the internet. 

When you say "I could secure a small piece of the business", does that mean you don't have equity yet? If you don't have equity, then this business should be much lower on your list of priorities. There's no guarantee the other guys are going to want to give up equity to a 20 y/o kid who has yet to experience real college.

Jul 25, 2022 - 12:47am
Frosture, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm working out an employment agreement with the owner as we speak. If I am able to negotiate the commission rate I want (which I think is very reasonable) I could be well on course to be making $100k+ per deal. However, I do not believe I will be able to secure a percentage of the pie until a year or so down the line. How if at all does this change your position on your take?

Jul 25, 2022 - 1:13pm
mysteryroop, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would say this business should not be a consideration of yours until you have an employment agreement signed. Even so, I would still take Cornell over USC. If you don't have equity, no matter how invovled you are, it's not your business and you shouldn't turn down a better opportunity for the future you want to put the maximum into a business you have no ownership of. If you can make $100k+ working remotely in Ithaca then it is a no-brainer. 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jul 25, 2022 - 2:13am

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