Undergrad School OPTIONS (please help)

Hi all,

I'm a senior in high school and just got back all of my college admissions decisions. I would really appreciate your feedback as I will be making my decision soon. Consider the $$$ as well, please!

My goal (cliche...) is a front office BB job out of college!

NYU Stern (Finance)-- $80,000 total debt
U Mich Ross (Finance) -- $160,000 total debt
Rutgers Honors Business (Finance) -- 0 debt (they will pay me to go to college)
Stevens Business (Quantitative Finance) -- $40,000 total debt
Williams College (Economics and something else) -- $40,000 total debt
Amherst College (Economics and something else) -- $40,000 total debt
Boston College (Finance) -- $80,000 total debt
Georgetown McDonough (Finance) -- $80,000 total debt
Villanova (Finance) -- $80,000 total debt

My thought process is this -- I should go to Williams/Amherst and get an economics degree at an amazing liberal arts school. On my own, I will study more "concrete" finance to ace the technical part of my interviews etc. Also, wouldn't it be easier to stand out this way at Williams/Amherst vs. Stern/Ross? For example, here is what one BB MD posted on an online forum:

"I've worked at Goldman, Deutsche and Morgan Stanley as a senior MD on the trading floor and here I am reading this thread. Interesting. I can tell you that the Williams mafia is a big deal on the Street. The Williams alum are zealots for the school and all seem connected. Do you think that UPenn knuckleheads feel a kindred spirit to the myriad other UPenn knuckleheads on the Street? I can tell you the answer is no. You'd be just another of the thousands jockeying for position. However, if you're one of only a few dozen Williams alum at any firm you will be noticed and cultivated"

Thoughts?

PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOUR OPINIONS!

Thanks a ton!

Comments (37)

Mar 28, 2018

I would certainly look at this with the perspective of prestige for Wall Street and Grad School, as well as the differences in total debt. The schools with the easiest pipeline to top Wall Street jobs, the schools that are nearly always viewed as targets for investment banking would be Georgetown McDonough and NYU Stern. Williams and Amherst can be viewed at similarly from a grads school perspective, better than Stern. However, definitely not as represented on Wall Street and you would have to do significantly more work to find similar opportunities. I would definitely recommend Georgetown because of its combination of Wall St. and Grad school/prestige prospects. With a good position on Wall Street, the 40k difference will eventually be negligible. It depends how much you want to be in Investment banking/Private equity. If that's truly what you want, I'd recommend this order.
1. Georgetown
2. Stern
3. Williams/Amherst
4. Boston College
5. Villanova
6. Rutgers

If Wall Street is not a priority, then I would find Georgetown, Williams and Amherst interchangeable and would choose based on strength of program/major, school size and other fit factors.

Hope this helps.

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Mar 28, 2018

Thanks! Would you say that Stern is a bit overrated? My hypothesis (let me know if you disagree) is that if I'm one of the 5 kids trying to do IB at a LAC like Williams/Amherst, I have a higher chance of getting the job given the prestige of the school, mixed with the low interest of the students in IB. At U-M, Gtown, Stern, etc. like half the class wants to do finance/IB and in terms of percentages, fewer kids will actually get the IB job.

Also, wouldn't you say the alumni network at Williams/Amherst is small but INSANELY tight?

Thanks

Mar 29, 2018

Stern is definitely overrated and the kids there are such douchebags. And not the cool douchebags...the type of douchebag to have their major in their Insta bio and put finance-related captions on their pics. Total hardos.

Also, Williams/amherst are not interchangeable with Gtown. They are better schools

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Sep 8, 2018

I second this

Mar 28, 2018

med,

Out of curiosity, what was your thought process that led you to consider going into debt to the tune of $40k for a liberal arts degree, regardless of how amazing it may be?

Secondly, what do you think you will bring to the table when you go into an interview with a liberal arts degree and an "on-my-own" education for those concrete technical finance theorems?

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Mar 28, 2018

Maybe I'm wrong, but wouldn't it show passion/ambition that I'm studying concrete finance on my own (from series 7 stuff to excel/ppt) while pursuing a liberal arts econ degree from the best LAC? Wouldn't this make me stand out among a homogenous sea of Ross/Wharton/Stern finance kids that are all fighting for the same job??

Mar 28, 2018

asdfjkl;

Mar 28, 2018

First, you have to be sponsored by a certified B/D or other financial firm before you may take the Series 6, 7, 63, 65 or 66. You may study the material in the books from Kaplan or one of the other companies, but you really don't learn very much quite honestly. If you're serious about a place on WS, the guys on these boards will steer you in the right direction.

Perhaps a LAC is more sought after than it was in my younger years, but I would think you need a lot more arrows in your quiver than that particular education.

As for PPT/Excel/Access, etc., you will be learning that as a necessity simply to get through your course-work if you're going into anything that requires analytical skills.

Mar 29, 2018
mediumrare_:

Maybe I'm wrong, but wouldn't it show passion/ambition that I'm studying concrete finance on my own (from series 7 stuff to excel/ppt) while pursuing a liberal arts econ degree from the best LAC? Wouldn't this make me stand out among a homogenous sea of Ross/Wharton/Stern finance kids that are all fighting for the same job??

Don't listen to that guy, he has no idea what he's talking about. The most important part about a college when it comes to job placement is the signaling effect. Going to a place like Williams signals that you're smart, Rutgers, not so much. This is why getting a degree from Northwest Bumblefuck U has no value....it actually signals that you are dumb.

I would limit your choices between Williams and Georgetown.....both will give you tons of opportunities and are different enough that you can choose the school on other factors than 'which gives me the best shot at IB?'. Good luck.

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Mar 28, 2018

NYU Stern or Georgetown for IB. Don't look back. This isn't even hard, and UMich Ross isn't even worth $40k when accepted to GU and NYU Stern.

Dump Rutgers, Villanova, BC, and Amherst.

So the only thing here that is slightly controversial is going to Williams. If you want IB, then it's a no brainer to go to Stern or GU, again - virtually every bank recruits hard on campus and both schools have an insane network on wall st.

WIlliams is more niche and you could definitely break in, but it won't be as easy

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Sep 8, 2018

Totally not true - Williams is one of the easiest undergraduate colleges to break into iBanking from. All of the top BB's and MM's recruit on campus and the alumni go-to-bat like no other school other than Princeton / Dartmouth.

Mar 28, 2018

I personally think this is a no-brainer. Go with the best school on that list, Williams, which also happens to place extremely well in IB. Like your post mentions, they have a fiercely loyal alumni base in finance and will fight for you.

The fact that it is also the cheapest school on the list makes it even easier!

(I originally missed that Rutgers is free but for 10k/yr more, Williams is light years ahead still)

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Mar 28, 2018

Is it a problem that there is no "finance" at Williams? Thanks

Mar 28, 2018

No, not a problem at all. There is no finance at Harvard/most top ivies either.

Mar 28, 2018

I would say that if Stern was 40k cheaper than Williams, I would maybe change my tune, but for 40k more, no way

Mar 29, 2018

Oh boy. The advice in this topic is actually terrible. People are telling you to go to Georgetown, because it's easier to get an IB job from there... it's also $40,000 more expensive than Williams or Amherst. It's also $80,000 more expensive than Rutgers. I don't know much about Rutgers, so I won't comment on it. However, I am fairly acquainted with both Williams, Amherst, and Georgetown so I will comment on it.

Let me let you in on a little secret... there is more to life than front office IB roles. At a liberal arts college, you can pursue education for the sake of education, rather than paying $80,000 for vocational training. It makes you more well rounded as an individual and heavily prepares you for either: life after investment banking or life moving forward as an investment banker. You can't possibly sit there and say "I want to be an investment banker forever" because you've never been an investment banker. You could say screw it and decide that you want to go into public policy or any number of other things. College should be about teaching you critical thinking skills and exploring humanity... not a $20,000 a year technical school.

If you attend a LAC, you could decide to stay in IB after your two year analyst gig- you will be on the same playing field as a kid from Georgetown/Stern/Wharton/etc after like six months on the job anyways, except you will have had a much more unique undergraduate experience than them that you can continue to draw on for the rest of your life.

I was in a unique position that I didn't have to pay for any university that I wanted to go to (GI Bill). I was going to community college with the intent to transfer to Georgetown and attend the business school. The dean of Georgetown's transfer admissions handpicked my schedule at the community college and told me that when I applied the next year if I had above a 3.5 GPA... I was guaranteed admission. That's a pretty fucking sick deal.

And do you know what I did? I tossed it aside to attend another LAC; for reference, it's even further from being a "target" than Williams or Amherst. Guess what I'll be doing for my sophomore internship? Working at a BB in their Investment Bank. If I really enjoy it, guess what I'll be doing the following summer? Working at an investment bank. Where will I be working after I graduate? Not on Wall St, because who the fuck still has their bank there anyways?

Anyone who says that a LAC is not a proper way to get to IB is lying to you. You might have to grind a little harder to get it, but the alumni network looks out for its own as you are well aware, because you pasted a quote into this thread describing it.

Every single banker that I've spoken to said that I made the right decision. There is nothing wrong with anyone that chooses an undergraduate business school over a LAC and there is nothing wrong with anyone who choose a LAC over an undergraduate business school.

Realistically, if you continue on in finance you're going to go back and get your MBA anyways. If you choose to attend an undergraduate business school, guess what you'll be doing... a rehash of your undergraduate years. Except now you'll be paying twice as much for the privilege.

tl;dr- I was in your shoes without the money question. I chose the LAC and do not regret it for a second.

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Mar 28, 2018

Thanks a ton for the thorough feedback! Your post is what I was thinking almost exactly, and is definitely reassuring. I have one question, though. Wouldn't a recruiter be incentivized to take in a kid from a finance major, since he/she would require less training, would know more technicals, etc.. Or would studying this all on my own suffice?

Thanks again

Mar 29, 2018

No problem at all. Happy to help.

Re: recruiter favoring a finance major- if that were truly the case, why would banks bother to send recruiting teams to any of the Ivies except for UPenn for Wharton? Banks are looking for smart students who can pick up concepts and run with them- that's why they send recruiters to good colleges, rather than just schools with finance majors. You'll learn most of what you need to on the job.

Studying on your own will suffice. It's what I did and it's what thousands of liberal arts students before you did- it is a well trodden path with many successful travelers.

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Mar 28, 2018

As someone who has worked in IB and on the buy side and has seen placement from all of the schools you've mentioned, I would definitely go with Williams. Georgetown is great too but not worth 40k more. Even at the same price Williams may be the better option.

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Mar 28, 2018

Thanks for the input!

Mar 29, 2018

All great options, but I'd go with Williams. Outside of your banking interest, Williams offers an education second to none. However, what kind of school do you want? Williams is not exactly the most fun school. If you enjoy partying with lots to do I'd go Georgetown or NYU (tho not really a true college experience being in NYC). If you prefer smaller schools where you'll know everyone then it's perfect. Basically, holding all other variables constant, if you are very focused on your studies/banking pursuit go with Williams.

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Mar 29, 2018

I would go with Williams or Amherst, hands down. They will serve you much better in the long run. I've heard that Williams is one of the preppiest schools that there are, sort of like Princeton. But, I've also seen a bit more Williams representation in finance vs Amherst. Either way, congrats and good luck

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Mar 29, 2018

Thanks. I've heard that Williams does place better. I will also agree that the "gentleman's education" one gets at Williams will serve me better in the long run vs. Stern/McD

Mar 29, 2018

Hard to turn down Williams and Amherst for the other schools at any price unless you are an athlete.

Best Response
Apr 1, 2018

First off congratulations on all the acceptances. You've got some great schools to pick from and really can't go wrong. I've give you a quick run through of my thoughts.

NYU Stern (Finance)-- $80,000 total debt

I'd only pick stern if you really want to be in NYC and money won't be an issue. From what I hear, Stern places ok in NY, but the competition is fierce and you're always going to be overshadowed by Colombia. Opsdude on this forum went there and has pretty much only negative things to say about his experience. I'd pass on this one.

U Mich Ross (Finance) -- $160,000 total debt

Would potentially be a great option if the debt load was lighter. Michigan would be a lot of fun(given you like sports and partying) but it also places well across banking, consulting, etc and has a good alumni network. When I was at Morgan Stanley, there were a surprising amount of interns from Michigan. I would consider Michigan if you could do there for free and wanted more of a fun college experience while still having career options open.

Rutgers Honors Business (Finance) -- 0 debt (they will pay me to go to college)

Another good option, but its not going to compare to the other schools you got into. Even with no debt, you're only looking at 40k other places which is pretty small in the scheme of things. This is a good safety, but I wouldn't really consider it too seriously. Maybe try to leverage this into a free ride at Michigan?

Stevens Business (Quantitative Finance) -- $40,000 total debt

Don't know much about this so I can't comment

Williams College (Economics and something else) -- $40,000 total debt
Amherst College (Economics and something else) -- $40,000 total debt

I'll bucket both of these together because I think they're 1. Very Similar 2. Your best option overall. Putting aside my liberal arts bias, Williams and Amherst are on par with the Harvard, Yale, and Stanfords of the world. They're elite academically and have strong alumni networks in anything you could want to do. One caveat is that you'll have to hustle a little bit more than at a Michican or Georgetown just because there will probably be less on campus recruiting due to the size of the schools. But if IB is the path you want to take and you're ok with sending out a few networking emails to alumni, you'll have a good chance at whatever job you want. People bash on the LACs for not training you for a specific vocation, lack of OCR, etc, but an overlooked fact is that coming out of a Williams or Amherst, the pool of competition for people that want to do MBB or IB is much lower than at a Stern where literally everyone wants to work at Goldman. So long short of it, both of things schools will get you where you want to go. Debt load is light for both, I'd make sure to visit the campus' if you can and just decide which one is the better fit. Amherst always seemed a little more elitist to me whereas Williams was more down to earth, but what I really liked about Amherst is that it was so close to other big universities which gives you more optionality.

One thing to note, the LAC feel isn't for everyone. Sports, parties, and greek life aren't the focal point of the school, which is fine, but you should know that going in.

Boston College (Finance) -- $80,000 total debt

Good school, but given its more expensive than the others and not as good, this is a pass.

Georgetown McDonough (Finance) -- $80,000 total debt

This is an interesting one. Georgetown undergrad business is a massive sleeper in terms of IB placement. I think they're actually one of the strongest feeders to wall street among all undergrad schools. DC is also a great city and 80k in debt isn't awful if you fall in love with the school. This one could be a darkhorse for me if you get a good vibe from here.

Villanova (Finance) -- $80,000 total debt

Similar to Boston College, maybe a little bit ahead as a I know that Nova sends a bunch of kids to wall street each year, but again more expensive than Amherst/Williams

So the TL:DR on all of this is

  1. Amherst/Williams, visit both and take your pick
  2. Georgetown if you want something more cosmopolitan
  3. Michigan if you want a big state schools/sports/party feel without sacrificing too much career optionality. You'd have to get that debt load cut down to at least 80k though and ideally less.
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Sep 8, 2018
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Sep 9, 2018