Liberal Arts vs. Undergraduate Business

Hi all,

I am currently a Freshman at a target (Georgetown) and am having an incredibly tough time deciding on what school/major to pursue.

I have long held interest in financial markets (I was managing my high school's endowment by the time I was a Junior no cap), so business seemed logical. On the other hand, though I'm not a stiff and only sometimes a tool. Let me extrapolate.

At Georgetown, I had originally been admitted to the McDonough School of Business, where I planned on majoring in International Business/Finance... the usual basically.

However, now that I'm here, I'm starting to realize that finance and accounting really are as painfully dry as as they sound. Meanwhile, I've been having a great time in my poetry/government/economics class, relatively speaking. Outside of the class, I've also managed to land a position with a FinTech Research Group, as well membership in other selective clubs relating to VC/Entrepreneurship.

Eh fuck it im rambling, you guys get the picture. I won't front, I'm in the comma making business. Bottomline, do I choose the dipshit easy route and stay in the MSB, follow the straight and narrow until it leads me to a BB Gig. Or do I take a risk, switch to the College of Arts and Sciences, and get liberal artsy and fake intellectual with a double major in Gov/Econ and a philosophy minor.

My heart's telling me to pull a dead poets' society here, but my brain sees the Career report for the Business School and the ease of the recruiting process there, and it ensnares me like a Whartonite staring at a line of coke.


Edit: Shoutout to the anonymous analyst who put me in my place. I deserved that. Apologies for being an egotistical child, rather than a right proper gentleman like yourself.

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 (65)

  • Prospect in Other
Dec 12, 2019 - 9:40pm

Not true. Yes, it probably isn't most people's "passion" or whatever, but if you hate finance and accounting I wouldn't go into IB.

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
Dec 12, 2019 - 8:11pm

You do not have to have a passionate love necesssarily but I bet most of the kids there at least have a decent interest in finance . Who in their right mind would do something for 85 hours a week that he/she finds dry and boring?

Dec 12, 2019 - 6:55pm

Most business classes are often going to be dry and boring unless you're enrolled in game theory or a similar course. If you're into the whole black turtleneck, cig smoking, gov/econ major then transfer to a selective lac and have fun but you love money so the most logical option is to crush your business courses and then read foreign policy & philosophy books over the thanksgiving and christmas breaks.

Dec 13, 2019 - 2:36pm

I've thought a lot on it. I'm currently founding a FinTech startup and my endgame is tech/product management if not CEO of my own gig. Issue is that tech recruitment is near nonexistent at Gtown. No engineering school so firms don't care about us. Everyone just does banking here. And I mean everyone. Also, I'm never gonna be an SWE, and SWEs run tech firms so I'd always be in the back seat.

I have been having a lot of fun with my FinTech Research position, but at the same time I don't know what jobs could be related to that. Perhaps Corp Strat @ Paypal or Square. Idek.

Dec 13, 2019 - 2:38pm

And as much as I'd rather do a role like that, I have to believe it would hurt my chances for H/S/W and the M7 down the road. So I feel like I kind of have to suck it up and do banking to be competitive for B-School, then reset and pursue tech/management/startups after that.

Or, with luck, my startup will be profitable before graduation. More likely than not, that will not happen though. And I feel my best chance to make contacts with Angels/VCs and other high net worth/high impact individuals who could help me out would be by going to the Street.

  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
Dec 12, 2019 - 9:12pm

I don't get the hate for OP here, who tf enjoyed their accounting course? My favorite courses have been history and science at university. Anyone who says they truly enjoyed their accounting or corporate finance modules is a major geed.

To extend on that, who really enjoys the work they do as an IB analyst? Is aligning logos and spreading comps really what you all want to be doing rn?

To OP: I have no idea how Georgetown recuiting works - at some schools, like NYU or UPenn being in the business school is very important for OCR. However, at some other schools like UVA it's not as important. I have no clue how it's like for Georgetown but I'd ask your career center and alumni/seniors to get a better idea. Good luck.

Dec 12, 2019 - 9:57pm

Doesn't matter what you do. Get a high gpa in courses you enjoy and leverage the network. You can leverage regardless if you're in the undergrad b school or lib arts

  • 1
Dec 13, 2019 - 2:53pm

No dog in this fight however, most knowledgeable people will tell you Accounting way harder / more rigorous degree than finance. Remeber those weedout classes. Imagine most of your classes like that. The math itself is easy. So many concepts to know and apply. The 3 financial statements are accounting functions, not finance functions and those are as basic as accounting gets (and almost as deep as finance - IB - gets)

Fast forward to the professional world. TAS DD way more rigorous than IB. They go way deeper in to transactions where IB just scratches the surface and moves on. Now personally I think fiannce would be a lot more enjoyable. But there's a reason most CFOs come from an accounting background and many of them started out at B4 (B8 as it was way back when).

Dec 13, 2019 - 6:22pm

But there's a reason most CFOs come from an accounting background and many of them started out at B4 (B8 as it was way back when).

Yes this is very true. If anything you'd actually be better off going the accounting route and then working your way to CFO of a company since true raw accounting skills are incredibly hard to find and having a CFO who isn't incompetent is incredibly important for any company if they want to operate for 50+ years.
Dec 13, 2019 - 6:18pm

tl;dr Dude you're 18, don't bother worrying about banking. Go enjoy your youth and do what you like to do. Go to parties/events and get your dick wet and live life. You'll have the rest of your life to be miserable and worry about your salary and being in the "tres commas" club.

Ok so from what I could gather from your post is: You hate finance and accounting classes yet you want to work in a field that literally involves NOTHING BUT finance and accounting principles. Sure Finance is a heavily soft skilled industry, but even MD's have to know all the technicals of a deal other wise the Client will tell him to fuck right off and hire an MD that actually is component. Which based on what you're saying in your post would mean you don't care at all about the technical aspects of finance and you think finance is just like Wolf of Wall Street/Liar's Poker where bankers do nothing all day but bullshit around, get drunk, and spend all of their money on lavish things and have plenty of it.

Reality check: Wall Street is not like that all and hasn't been like that since the '08 crash. Bankers don't make dosh anymore and are more senior staff are getting more stock that vests in 3+ years as their bonus and not cash. Banking is mind-numbingly boring. A snooze fest.

You're still young so ofc all you're thinking about is money and not much else. But I'd say use your time in college to pursue things that actually interest you. If you actually like the arts and philosophy major in those courses and work in the humanities field. Or major in Physics which is actual philosophy because you begin to study the actual universe and how it works. Don't bother thinking about what job will make you a multimillionaire/billionaire, because they don't exist. The only jobs where people become insanely wealthy are through inheriting their wealth, or by working in an industry for so long where they either rise to become a CEO (which requires 20+ years industry experience) or they innovate something that people find of great value and will be more than willing to pay for it.

Dec 14, 2019 - 4:48pm

I think I misrepresented myself. I am certainly interested in finance. I've been doing equity research for many years now in different capacities.

I certainly don't hate finance and would not pursue IB if I didn't think it would be my crowd/gig. I just don't know that I want my academics to be finance, when most of my extracurriculars already revolve around business/finance/equity research.

Dec 14, 2019 - 5:07pm

I think I misrepresented myself. I am certainly interested in finance. I've been doing equity research for many years now in different capacities.

I certainly don't hate finance and would not pursue IB if I didn't think it would be my crowd/gig. I just don't know that I want my academics to be finance, when most of my extracurriculars already revolve around business/finance/equity research.

I mean I don't know. I definitely am excited for courses like going like international business law/fintech/emerging markets investing. I just know that at the end of the day, I could still learn those things outside of class whereas I couldn't do the same for an econ major, or at least it would be far more difficult.

I just don't want to wake up and regret not studying something more abstract/academic. I don't want to close doors. Feel like finance is certainly best if I pursue IB/corp strat/Consulting, but limits me from being able to apply for places like brookings/The Fed/policy research since I wouldn't have a firm econ background.

Most Helpful
  • Intern in IB-M&A
Dec 13, 2019 - 6:38pm

Why can't you balance both-- do a double major in finance and your preferred other major?

That's what I did. I'm currently in my final year at a similar school and am going to be working in BB investment banking upon graduation. I see investing as an intellectually rigorous exercise (which is where I want to be) and can draw numerous parallels between investing and the research, writing, and thesis-crafting I do in my humanities major (granted I often take economic/social/political approaches in my research).

I'm a big proponent of balance and framing. If you're able to apply the frameworks and perspectives developed in your liberal arts major to finance, then you can frame finance as something rewarding for you. If you're good at what you do, then I believe that perspective can be incredibly beneficial. That's a win-win compromise.

I will say that most of the people that I see do double majors in finance and something more artsy aren't genuinely passionate about their artsier major and only do it because they think its intellectually stimulating or fun. I see that as far less constructive. Only do the second major if you're (a) talented at it and (b) passionate about it, because otherwise I don't think you will really realize its benefits once you move along in your career.

Dec 14, 2019 - 1:24pm

Yes yes yes. The idea of the double major is to take the second major because you enjoy it. If you think the humanities are boring, abstract, impractical.. then drop it. But I've found, like this comment above mentions, that humanities are immensely helpful for big-picture things like thinking through problems, forming arguments, communicating concisely, etc... all extremely important soft skills to any professional.

Dec 14, 2019 - 4:58pm

Thanks for the great advice! Unfortunately, I cannot double major outside of the MSB. I can minor, however. Might go for finance/international political economy double major with a minor in English or Philosophy. Either that or econ/gov with same minors in the college. I just need to figure out what I'm actually interested in, lol.

I'm thinking the former might be the best idea. Econ/Gov share some classes with the IPEC major, so I can get my fix for that in that major. Finance for practical, tangible skills. And english minor just cuz I fuck with thoreau and keats. Poetry gang.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

June 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (35) $364
  • Associates (202) $234
  • 2nd Year Analyst (115) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (97) $145
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (27) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (420) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (338) $82