Go to College in a City

I believe a highly overlooked factor when choosing a college is access to a major city. I chose a college in a major city over an undeniably better school for finance and it was my best career decision yet. I sacrificed the "college experience" during my first few years but the opportunity to network and complete internships during the school year made it so much more worth it. I have been able to network (in-person) with so many high-ranking professionals that have led to getting two solid "high-finance" internships before I even enter junior year. I know I would not have been able to do that outside of a city. As a sub topic, being a top achiever at a non-target is also not as bad as it seems because the school effectively throws resources at you. There have been many professional events in the city where each college in the area was able to only send a select few of its students and because I was at the top of an ok school, I was able to go.

Just trying to say that if you are a high achiever who didn't break into an S tier school, being a big fish in a small pond that is surrounded by an ocean can still be pretty nice.


Comments (10)

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jul 28, 2022 - 6:55pm

Nah congratulate him on Baruch

  • Analyst 2 in AM - Equities
Jul 30, 2022 - 3:18pm

It all depends on where you are from. I grew up in LES. All my friends and people I was around tended to work in Manhattan or some of the F500s that were headquartered in Northern Jersey, so when the time came for recruiting, I kind of had a built-in network already with a lot of friend's parents and family friends. 

I did not grow up with a yard (unless you count a roof in a walk up of a LES townhouse) or a pool or anything that is more typical suburbia. The bars that people call "intern bars" here are in reality the high school bars where most kids from my high school would go to. I pretty much did everything that most people do in NYC when they move here growing up. 

I went to a more typical college, joined a frat, and had the full experience and had an absolute blast and ended up where I wanted to professionally. Different shoes for different people. There is no one right path. 

Most Helpful
Jul 31, 2022 - 8:40am
mrharveyspecter, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I both agree and disagree, it really comes down to the person and what you want out of you college experience. I do agree with you that access to a city is hugely important for networking, job opportunities, and generally just fun/optionality. If you go to school in NYC, you have an unlimited amount of cultural and social experiences you can have. Basically you're partially a student/citizen of the city rather than just the school you go to and if you're ready to take advantage of that, you can go to conferences, networking events, etc that can all help enhance your education beyond school, which frankly, isn't always the best way to learn.

My counterargument is that the years that one goes to college, so somewhere between 18-22 are years in which students are largely still trying to 1. Figure out what they like/who they are 2. focus on studying to some extent. A more traditional college campus is a safer and easier environment for students to thrive versus a city, which can frankly be overwhelming. Yes, some students who are perhaps more extraverted or ambitious might find themselves well suited to the optionality, but for many, it's likely too much. Is it easier for an 18 year old freshman just to show up to class each day, see the same people, make friends in a dorm, and go to some on campus events and parties and enjoy that, versus someone who is living on their own (or realistically in NYC, with a group of strangers/roommates), commutes to school, and is more responsible for fending for themselves? Depends on the person. Also, brings me to another point which is money. Being a professional in a city is very different than being a student. Cities are expensive and doing everything for yourself at 18, with little to no money, is an additional challenge on top of school. On a campus, everything is provided for you, you don't have to worry as much about cleaning, cooking, repairs etc. Same goes for social events, I went to a traditional college and moved to a city directly after. I was always shocked by some of the college students eating out at restaurants I was at with my friends, or at the bars/clubs I was at. There was no way they were making enough to eat at those places, so they were either going into debt or using family money. It was also just mind boggling to me that at 19, I was drinking beers with my friends and playing FIFA whereas some of these kids were at premier nightclubs or the likes. In comparison, I almost never went out to eat during college besides fast casual types of places just because we had dining hall food and there weren't many great, high end options around. It's just a different vibe and way more costly, not to mention, it's just much more of a distraction if you're trying to balance studying with that lifestyle.

Anyways, just my quick thoughts on the situation. For the right person, yes, cities are great, you can grow up a lot faster, but I'd argue it's way better/easier if you have means and are ready to be independent and can manage your life well. For many others, there's nothing wrong with going to a good university to actually study and learn and be able to grow without dealing with various life pressures. I'm not the biggest fan of traditional education systems, but there is something to be said for learning how to buckle down and grind through some academic work and that's much easier to do on campus versus in a city. Last point I'll mention, you can really only have the college experience once, having a campus quad, going to greek parties, playing on intramural teams, etc but you can live in a city for the rest of your life. 

Jul 31, 2022 - 12:18pm
freshman trying to figure it out, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Similique dolorem sed repellendus nihil harum eos. Voluptatem pariatur et eveniet veritatis hic. Blanditiis velit optio quibusdam aut recusandae corporis.

Commodi repellendus est a amet. Eum neque omnis aspernatur reiciendis eos quas. Excepturi expedita aspernatur est consectetur maxime dolor. Et asperiores rerum quidem expedita. Autem repudiandae accusamus voluptas at quaerat mollitia nemo.

Start Discussion

Career Advancement Opportunities

September 2022 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company (▲05) 99.6%
  • Lincoln International (= =) 99.2%
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch (▲04) 98.8%
  • Financial Technology Partners (+ +) 98.5%
  • Evercore (▽02) 98.1%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

September 2022 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company (▲12) 99.6%
  • Greenhill (▲07) 99.2%
  • Evercore (▲01) 98.8%
  • PJT Partners (▽02) 98.4%
  • Macquarie Group Limited ABN (▲21) 98.1%

Professional Growth Opportunities

September 2022 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company (▲05) 99.6%
  • Lincoln International (▲03) 99.2%
  • PwC Corporate Finance (▲12) 98.8%
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch (▲05) 98.5%
  • Houlihan Lokey (▲05) 98.1%

Total Avg Compensation

September 2022 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $613
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (318) $407
  • Vice President (38) $392
  • Associates (208) $257
  • 2nd Year Analyst (130) $163
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (18) $159
  • 1st Year Analyst (437) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (83) $150