Duke worth the loan?

Is Duke worth the $150k loan I'll have to take? My other options are UC Berkeley and UCLA, where my parents will pay for the entirety of my tuition.

I want to join a private equity MF out of undergrad and don't have intentions of doing a post grad


Admissions hasn't even started yet, doubt OP gets into Duke or knows what private equity is. I am taking Berkeley Haas/Berkeley CS with 40k room and board expenses over any school any day, especially since it's in-state and close to family.

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I'm an athlete and am guaranteed admission to Duke in ED. I attend a very competitive California private school that is essentially a feeder to the "good" UC's. I'm more than sure that I should have no problem getting into those schools, especially considering my academics and class rank. And, I do know what private equity is. I understand that a MF out of undergrad is quite rare, but that doesn't mean I can't line myself up for success by attending the right school. Everyone is allowed to have ambitions. 


I would do Berkeley. $150k loan is a material difference.

MF PE is extremely unlikely out of undergrad for anyone, fyi. There are SO few spots and the OCR for them is at HYPW - Duke is a great school but it's not like the MFs are coming knocking at your door there. It's like saying you want to learn football and then join the NFL out of undergrad. But top IB (the actual pathway to MFPE) is an easy path from any of those 3, or MM PE out of college is also doable.

But as someone above said... it's a big assumption to make that you will get into all three. Make sure to add some semi-target "safeties" (do a search on here for a list) if finance is for sure the path you want


I’d take UCB all else equal if you want to be on the west coast. Yeah you’ll be making high finance good money out of college but $150k is $150k, that’s not a small loan to have to carry around when you first start working. If it were Harvard or Wharton vs UCB then maybe I’d feel different, but you’re talking Duke with all due respect. No OP, MFPEs will not be licking your balls to get you to recruit because you’re at Duke and not UCB. Does not place significantly better than UCB, I’d opine that UCB is rather more of an example of self-selection since so much of the student body wants to do tech/consulting, but the finance guys I know there have all done extremely well.

UCLA is great too and I’m a sucker for SoCal vs the Bay, but there is a noted difference in placement that I’ve seen outside of SoCal. This also all depends where you’ll want to go - UCB will place better on the west coast vs the east coast, so that is a consideration you should take for UCB vs Duke. But dear God don’t pick school because of perceived prestige because there is very little in that category to separate these schools.


It's not just prestige. UCB is a public school that is currently having a housing crisis. Considering econ is such a popular major, I know of many friends who have a hard time placing into classes and getting internships due to the intense competition. But I'm ready to suck it up if that means less student loans. I just wanted to know if Duke would give me much different results career wise, considering I'm aiming for wall street.


Yeah dude with all due respect, if your friends are having trouble finding any internships with a good GPA from UCB……. it's not the major/school. This stuff isn't rocket science.

As for the housing crisis, I don’t keep tabs on the area so I’ll defer to the judgement of others on that! Definitely wouldn’t base my college decision on that considering how large/well-endowed UCB is, but worth factoring in if it’s a big deal.


Probably getting in-state tuition.  Going to a school like Berkeley or UCLA on in-state tuition / fully funded is a great deal.  Duke is great but I personally would go to Berkeley.  Picked another school over Duke partially because of money so have been in a rather similar situation.

Also re: prestige, Berkeley is deeply respected, particularly in academic circles.  Globally, it might even be perceived as a better school than Duke.  Duke has it beat when it comes to USNWR rankings but those are kinda trash despite so many people beating off to them non-stop.

Duke will put you in a better spot for East Coast / NYC roles but that's also a function of a lot of Berkeley kids wanting to stay on the West Coast.  Have seen a good number in NYC as well.


All things considered, I'd probably pick UCB. I really like SoCal so UCLA might be a close second. But, if you chose Duke, it wouldn't be a wrong decision - you have three good options. I really like California. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

How about we not use the r-word?

Edit: chill, please. I was just voicing something that I felt was incorrect. I'm in high school and haven't been conditioned to think the use of this term is normal, unlike some of you who have spent years in workplaces where this term get thrown around on a daily. Also, I'm from the bay(very "woke"). Grown men bullying me for feeling a certain way and downvoting everything I type is honestly so petty


The r-word is a pejorative term for mentally disabled people. People sometimes confuse it as synonymous with "dumb" or "stupid", but this term is offensive and furthers stereotypes about people who are intellectually challenged. I have a cousin who struggles with a developmental disorder and I feel rather strongly about people that use this term. I was just informing you (and others), yet people feel the need to throw monkey shit 


UCLA/Berk placed better than duke at my bb. 2 from Duke vs 4 and 5 from the others.


Pick Duke. UCB is dirty as shit, disgusting environment, cutthroat tryhards with inferiority complexes. Atleast Duke is fun. 150k is negligible af. As for placement, Duke wipes. Berkeley has like 10x the kids so even if it has “equal” placement, per capita it sucks. Most finance kids are in Haas, which you have to apply for separately (unless you get into MET, but I also rejected that bc of earlier). Pick Duke. 
Also, just apply to scholarships. There’s so many- try Coke Scholars (20k or something a year), Cameron Impact Scholar (full ride) etc. try taking loans out from relatives. If your parents can afford Duke (they won’t give you need based aid and then you’d have to take a loan) they’ll eventually change their mind when faced with the choice at the end. Call their bluff


There's no way I'm writing that many essays for the Cameron Impact lmao. I'm doing the Coke application though and fingers crossed I make it. I'm glad there is someone who's actually at Berkeley that's commenting here. The majority of people here seem to be saying Berkeley without actually having seen where it's at right now. They're solely going based off perceived prestige and loan amount. Berkeley is having housing crisis right now and honestly the cutthroat competition will make getting opportunities so much harder, and will just be repeat of high school.  


If Berkeley's housing crisis is making that much of an impact on the Duke x Berkeley dilemma, I can tell you that your decision making skills won't get you far enough to land MFPE out of college. But then again, you're just rationalizing.

Enjoy Duke and have fun at Guggenheim.


When you say your parents can very much afford it, I'm assuming that means at some point they may start gifting you money or you're in line for a decently sized inheritance?  If so, I'd factor that into my decision and that could sway me towards Duke


Very confused by these threads where "parents refuse to pay" and everyone panics OP is going to be homeless with massive debt forever. Either parents cannot afford anything or they just are delaying the days they pay for it just go to program you are more comfortable with. You are blessed to have parents who can even afford making such annoying situations. One day when you do well just pay it forward to some kids who cannot ever have such a choice and their debt is "real".


Duke is not worth the marginal cost. If we were talking Harvard, Yale or Penn type school then maybe, but going to UCB or UCLA at no cost to you vs. taking on 150k debt in the hopes for marginally a better graduate outcome is silly. I don’t think you have a better chance at MF PE at Duke than at those UCs, either way it’s a long shot to get MF PE out of UG. Strive for success, but in all likelihood you will end up on the tried and true path of IB—>PE like everyone else.


Had a similar situation as you. I was looking at going to a T20 school and taking about ~150k out for a loan but being able to compete in college athletics or going to a worse on-paper school for free with great extracurriculars. I would personally go to UC Berkeley.

College athletics are great and make placement easy, but your financial skill set matters much more if you want to jump to the buy-side out of college. At the current school I attend, I talked about walking on with the team, and if I did, I would not have the internship I have today. College athletics simply takes so much time. I keep in contact with many people on my team from high school who are now D1 athletes, and a large majority lose a lot of their time to athletics/studying for classes. If you want to build the skills and have the freedom to be able to just dive into learning what you need for an interview, do Berkeley/UCLA.

Specifically, at Berkeley, their Berkeley Investment Group is absolutely top-notch, with fantastic placement across the board. (6/13 were buyside this summer)

The chance to graduate without debt shouldn't be understated, especially where the economy is right now. I wouldn't want to be halfway across the country from my parents, but that is a personal choice.


This thread is kind of a cluster, haha. I think my general comments are:

1. Why are you so set on going to a MF right out of UG? Given that you haven't done banking or PE, you really don't know how you're going to like either. It sounds like you're a high achiever who has picked a target for what they perceive is the highest level of finance achievement they could accomplish right out of UG and are solving for hitting that goal. It's great to be ambitious, but honestly, doing a MF analyst role vs a top BB IBD role isn't that much of a difference and honestly, you might end up worse off. The training is better in banking and there's more camaraderie, which becomes important as those people people your friends and network. THere's a little less of that if you start off right in PE

2. Duke is a great school and a lot of fun. If your parents are paying and you're well off enough, then do whatever you want. If money matters, there's frankly not a massive gap between a top public school like UCLA or UCB and Duke. If you said Harvard, that would be different, but while Duke's placement might be marginally better (honestly I'm just guessing, I don't really know) to me the perception is that they're somewhat similarly tiered schools. I don't think Duke will place materially better into UG MF roles. Honestly, those roles are so far and few between anyways, the only really way to increase the odds would be to go to HYPS and Wharton and bust ass to network a ton and get a bunch of finance experience under your belt before you graduate.

3. If you do care so much about UG MF roles, why does it have to be Duke vs UCLA/UCB? Why aren't you applying to all the Ivies? 

All-in-all, the question and general logic of your decision doesn't make much sense to me. Are you limited to those schools because of athletics? If you're good enough to play Duke lacrosse and get recruited then you're probably good enough to play lax at pretty much any other school with a women's lacrosse team, so why not leverage your athletics to go to Penn?

TLDR: It's kind of a push decision. Duke is marginally better and probably more fun. At the same time, UCLA and UCB are well regarded and probably get you into good IBD jobs if you're a top student. Plus $150k isn't a massive sum of money, but it's not nothing either. Neither give you a great shot at UG MF roles and I don't really think you should be optimizing for that anyways. If you really are optimizing for that, then try to get into an Ivy.


The ivies that I think I have a good shot at I dont want to go to. I like Dartmouth and know a few profs there through a program I did. But, the problem is Hanover. Its remote and isolated. It also snows like crazy there and there isnt much to do outside. I'm also not white, and there is less representation of other races there and people have dealt with some exclusion/discrimination from what I've read. SA is also an issue, but it is at most unis tbh. Boston is 3 hrs away. Yeah, I know there are good things like a strong alumni network and the D-plan, but considering all things and my personality, I dont think I would be happy there. 

Cornell I like, but the finance placement is so-so, esp if I'm not at Dyson. I like Ithaca, though. in many ways, cornell is similar to UCB so im not sure if im going to be getting something a lot more than perhaps the ivy tag for the 150k


Ok I go to Duke and also strongly considered the UCs as I was from CA. 

Situation was different for me as I got financial aid so Duke was cheaper than the UCs, but have friends at UCs so I think I can weigh in.

At Duke especially with recruiting for Sophomore programs at BBs which it sounds like you are eligible for MF PE is definitely attainable. Difficult but attainable. 

At the same time UCB also places well. I think you really need to consider where you want to be / the environment. Duke probably does have a bit better placement than UCB especially to NYC. But if you are purely choosing Duke because you will increase your odds of MF PE from 10 to 30% or whatever arbitrary number you want to throw out it may not be worth the 150k.

I have loved my time at Duke and been surrounded with clubs and people that introduced me to finance. I am not headed into PE and feel very lucky and glad I came to Duke. If you think you will be happier etc. at Duke (I thought I would be) and you want to do finance in NYC I don’t think it is ridiculous to do the 150k, but if you just want a bit better placement but enjoy CA and want to stay there long term I’d go with UCB. 

Happy to answer any Duke specific questions though


Very strange why more people aren’t recommending UCLA. UCB would be worth it if you’re studying CS but you’re not, so why don’t  you just go to a reputable school in the middle of LA? This gives you a very good opportunity to do part-time internships/co-ops and schedule networking coffee chats in person, things that you aren’t going to get sitting in a college town in the middle of nowhere. 
Honestly NYC isn’t going to be easy coming from any of these schools so it’s best to concentrate your efforts on what can be achieved which in my opinion is LA. Yes, from Duke you could focus on Charlotte/Atlanta but I don’t think those cities are worth $150,000 debt, especially if you’re fine with the California culture.


I've been thinking a little bit about the future and I don't think I want to be in either NYC or Cali after college. I really like NC and Charlotte is the second largest financial hub after NYC. The taxes are low and I can achieve my goal of buying house much sooner. The bay/sf housing market is so crazy and the cost of living is high. I have some family in nc as well and am seriously considering moving there after, regardless of which college I attend


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