Do you miss being a student? Why/why not?

Been contemplating my life after 4 years of working (1 year M&A, 2 years MF buyouts, 1 year UMM GE). I feel my life satisfaction has gotten progressively worse since I started getting onto the careerist treadmill. I don't really learn anything interesting new anymore. 

It feels honestly a STEM/philosophy freshman in college is exercising his brain harder than an associate at Blackstone. As a mid-level guy now, it's gotten even worse. My daily challenges are how to manage stakeholders, persuade people to do what is in your best interest (and not necessarily theirs), convince your boss you're worthwhile, get founders to like you, how to dodge work while maintaining appearances, etc. 

I still remember when GS/MS/JP and MBB came to my school and basically said (sometimes explicitly): If you want to be doing the smartest work with the smartest people, come join XYZ. What a load of baloney lol. 

Plus when I was a student I could spend time with an eclectic, diverse group of brilliant and often good-looking young people. Now I am mostly stuck with a pretty homogenous group of status-obsessed finance/consulting/tech people. I had full autonomy over my schedule - if I didn't want to show up for class, it was ok - there were a million ways to make up for it without anyone thinking twice. I had twice the amount of free time I had. And even during the amount of time I was studying, it was actually very intellectually stimulating and interesting. 

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (40)

Aug 17, 2021 - 5:37am

When you are young and a student, your parents or society carry you. Everything is paid for by them, you have the time and freedom to do as you please. Almost everything is easier: working out, studying, learning something new, dating, finding friends, plenty of time, hobbies/interests, etc.
When you graduate, it is time to give back to society. Pay your taxes, give up your time/health for someone/something, less freedom and more responsibilities.

What I miss most is that I was more "free" inside of my head as a student, I was very much more of an intellectual than now. Read more books, wrote more, had time to take care of things and socialized a lot more than now.

Aug 19, 2021 - 11:48pm

it depends on where you come from. if you come from an affluent family that donated a lot to an Ivy League school, and they set up everything for you so that you go to that Ivy League school, and you take easiest classes and enjoy your time, and then your family helps you to get to BB IB. then yeah, you've been cruising all your life until you actually need to put in work to stay in IB or move to PE and work there. so, in this case the hard period starts when you start to work.

however, if you come from a poor family, and grind your way to a decent school by studying 24/7, and then transfer to a semi-target and work even harder to catch-up to everybody's level, and then try to recruit but nobody cares cause you're just a semi-target, so you spend all your time trying to keep GPA high and at the same time make 10+ calls and send 100+ emails every day, and prepare for recruiting. then you eventually get an offer from a consulting shop and after a year of hard work you prove yourself and now your managers and partners let you work flexible schedule and you work 40h weeks and make $150k. in this case, life only starts after you're done with studying, and the period when you work is actually the best part of your life.

Aug 20, 2021 - 3:40am

You are right, I should have clarified. I was referring to the bare level state schools or the EU education system.
Private institutions, ivy league, etc are an entirely different ball game. I don't have any numbers or insights about the demographics in that space. Thanks for adding some color to it.

Aug 17, 2021 - 6:54am

They werent kidding when they said college will be the best four years of your life. Around friends 24/7. All grinding out school work while also playing hard (at least in my case). Not having to worry about taxes and adult things, taking it one step at a time.Maybe you should take some sort of sabbatical? What is your personal life like, if you even have one? Good relationships/friendships? Maybe you should start considering jumping to a smaller shop where you may have a tangible impact on operations.

Go all the way

  • 2
Aug 20, 2021 - 1:00pm

My income in college before taxes was way lower than my income post college after taxes.


Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Aug 17, 2021 - 9:36am


Friends you meet during university? - After university your social circle changes and so the people who surround you. Volunteering, participating in different projects, etc. - No one cares, pointless shit. Partying, going to clubs, alcohol, weed? - Fun somewhat, but not related to university. I can do that whenever I want. Listening  professors discuss different topics? - I prefer to listen what is practical, not theoretical shit I wouldn't need in my entire career. Topics discussed with other students from campus? - Average Joe discussions about sports, famous people, etc. meanwhile I was interested in discussions about moving abroad, philosophy, life goals, etc.

I have some good friends, met some other good ones at university which whom I will maintain relationships for the rest of my life. But I could also meet people in other places. One big plus at university is you can have a lot of sex if you want it. You are surrounded by girls which are the same age as yours and often they are single and want to have fun, but if you get into a serious relationship you won't give a F about that.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Aug 17, 2021 - 11:04am

Just graduated university this year a virgin, covid stole 2 years of my best life. I want to kms.

Aug 17, 2021 - 11:49am

No worries. Get a job, move away from your parents home and start dating. Having an income, feeling independent and having a place where you can bring any girl for a night is a great confidence boost when approaching girls.

Also, you are not still behind. You are not 30, you are a recent graduate so a difference of 2 - 3 years between you and her is perfectly acceptable and even preferable for a lot of women. So you can still hit on uni girls.

Aug 18, 2021 - 1:43am

You can still have a love life as a young professional adult in your 20s. Many cities such as NYC, Los Angeles, etc. are surrounded by young professionals. Everything you can do in college you can do in your adult life but you do not need to shell out $150,000 to have that experience. As in being intellectually challenged, you are going to realize most of your professors taught you bullshit that you can not apply in real life. All jobs (including doctors and lawyers) have a bullshit component to it. Once you accept that, life will be more enjoyable. 

  • 1
Aug 17, 2021 - 9:43am

I miss the clear expectations of school. Your performance was based on test scores which are very black and white. Now performance is based on how your boss feels you're doing and how the client perceives your value - very little is based on black and white numbers so measuring yourself has become more ambiguous.

Aug 17, 2021 - 10:29am

I had a very unconventional path around going into college and seeing these threads makes me kinda feel bad for y'all and myself. On one hand I'd totally feel the same if I went to uni and experienced all of that and lost it, but on the other I'm looking forward to my mid to late 20s when the money rolls in and I can enjoy it. For the most part living at home, commuting, and working while juggling my courses taught me how to cope with being lonely by picking up tons of hobbies and pushing myself to go out alone and clique with others on a whim which I'm proud of. Pros and cons ig. Thank God for tinder and bumble though haha, was impossible to meet girls the first couple years.

Aug 17, 2021 - 10:53am

Main things I miss about college is having friends around 24/7 and having limited responsiblities 

Literally always found people to hang out with & clubs to do in college to find new people, much harder post-college. You really have to seek it out which becomes a pain, people are always moving so friendships you made constantly have to be recycled, etc. I'm sure once I get into my late 30s / early 40s things will become more settled but in mid-20s you just invest a lot in friendships that might not stick around for lack of geo proximity

On limited responsibilities, it's nice to be able to just skip classes if you're not feeling it. Do that in the real world and you get shown the door real quick. That said, I find the work I do now is FAR more interesting than the random stuff we learned in college. I'm actually doing what I love (research / stock picking) vs. doing a bunch of other stuff I couldn't care less about (philosophy / marketing / etc). Also making good money & the things I could buy have massively increased

All said, if I could go back and relive college right now I would just to enjoy those 4 relatively carefree years again but would certainly want to end up at the same shop I am now doing the same thing. Think you'll always have regrets / longings for other things, but for the most part I think things ended up fairly well for me. The other things that I feel aren't where they should be in my life, I'm planning on working on over the next year as it's mostly within my control

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Aug 17, 2021 - 11:05am

Yes for sure, for all the reasons others have mentioned (flexibility on schedule, more free time, proximity to friends + more similar life situations, etc.). If I was able to go back in time I would have prioritized the social aspect more and also taken more non-business classes, but easy to say in hindsight.

OP - how have you felt about the switch from MF PE to growth? I am considering a similar move, but not sure if it's a "grass is greener" scenario or if it would actually be a good call. I don't work in a tech focused role now so I might need to do an MBA for the pivot

  • Associate 3 in PE - Growth
Aug 17, 2021 - 1:30pm

150% better than buyouts in terms of lifestyle. But just know the difference between shops that do sourcing at associate level and which don't. I'm at one which does and its very different from normal PE for sure. In a way it's a breath of fresh air, I'm paid to meet interesting founders. But on the other hand its a different, arguably less analytical/intellectual, since you need to build relationships, and on top of that, if you have a promising lead, there is more of a tendency to get emotionally attached to doing a deal rather than being a coldly objective investor. 

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Aug 17, 2021 - 1:37pm

Nice! That makes sense, candidly want to get away from all the analyses (not sure the vast majority of the made up analyses we run are actually worth the time / effort and definitely aren't intellectually engaging in my view, but that's a different conversation) and find something with better lifestyle in the long run. If you feel comfortable sharing, how much of a hit did you take on comp relative to if you had stayed in PE?

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Aug 17, 2021 - 12:39pm

I don't miss being a student as a recent graduate simply because of my background.

I was a low-income student in college, so it blew not being able to have fun like your rich friends did. Went to a rich private school so that made me feel worse then. Now, things are better because I'll have money to do what I want, and I don't feel as bad/ashamed of myself anymore. I had more freedom in college but no money to enjoy, but it's the reverse now. I'll take the latter any day.  

Aug 19, 2021 - 10:29am

I don't know, I can't relate that much to everyone but I think it's because I work a job with actually pretty good work-life balance. I still go out on the weekends, except unlike in college when it was the same folks that you'd run into all the time, I'm always meeting interesting people. Dating in the city is infinitely better than in my tiny college town. I was lonely a lot when I was in college for some reason, I sort of got sidelined at some point and had trouble forming a new friend group. 

Most Helpful
Aug 20, 2021 - 3:25am

Candidly, I hated being a student. And I'd hated being a student my entire life. I'm much more "real world", for lack of a better term, oriented and have enjoyed not only the learning but the holistic approach it takes to succeed in the professional world. What I mean by that is that I've never really been "book smart" and I'm happy to admit that. But I am smart and feel almost built for work as I can apply concepts etc really well but more importantly can play the politics / people better than most people and realized that off the bat when I started my first internship. I was always super driven and stupidly competitive but for some reason, academics never really made me feel that way which I find puzzling even to this day. That being said, I think I felt that work allowed me to be properly competitive using skills which extended beyond homework and test-taking. 

On the social front, yeah college was great given the amount of time you have to get after it and have an amazing time whenever you please. But as someone who didn't have any spending money in college and was honestly helped out a lot in the going out dept for a year by my loaded fraternity big bro, I despised to my core not having the financial freedom to do what I please. I had my college paid for by my parents, just putting it out there so that no one makes assumptions and yes I realized just how privileged that made me but genuinely I always detested taking money from my parents for anything else (and I'll also admit I didn't understand the magnitude of how helpful they were paying for my college until I met classmates who had to get loans etc). I got jobs such as waitering and tutoring across various subjects so I wouldn't have to take the 50/mo allowance my parents were willing to give me. This is just a long way of saying I'm eternally grateful I can support a pretty great lifestyle on my own efforts and that in college I always felt I needed to get out of having to have someone pay for me 

  • 6
Aug 30, 2021 - 10:17am

I don't miss it, I remember following tips about how to save money being a student from Flash Financial Guide, and to be honest, it helped me a lot but being a student is the most difficult thing when it comes to financing...

Aug 30, 2021 - 10:46am

Corrupti non eius quae esse porro. Omnis eius corrupti qui voluptates vel quibusdam.

Aug 31, 2021 - 4:48pm

Eos dolorem ut consequatur aut. Ipsum tenetur porro assumenda unde. Placeat quia molestiae beatae voluptas odit quibusdam et quia. Rerum quod et et facere ducimus quo repudiandae accusamus.

Blanditiis laborum doloremque consequuntur velit soluta. Quas suscipit velit perspiciatis qui modi consequatur molestiae qui. Natus necessitatibus minus facilis et.

Qui quaerat quae est molestias delectus perferendis voluptatibus et. Vel eveniet dolor quia inventore expedita at.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

January 2022 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (7) $1,977
  • Vice President (24) $388
  • Associates (152) $243
  • 2nd Year Analyst (86) $155
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (15) $150
  • Intern/Summer Associate (65) $144
  • 1st Year Analyst (297) $142
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (226) $90