The Real Guide to Our College Education System

A few of our readers are still in college as can be seen by the hundreds of questions on investment banking analyst recruiting. The world is changing rapidly, however we believe the blueprint to college remains the same, just more competitive. So with that lets go ahead and take a look at our view on how to manage your college experience and why it is instrumental that you do not follow the crowd.

“Best Time of Your Life”: If college was legitimately the best time of your life, that means you did it wrong. That is not to say that you will have no fun, instead it means your life did not improve after graduation. The reason why college should not be the best time of your life is as follows:

1) You should attend the highest quality university possible while minimizing debt (more on this later)

2) You should major in a subject with legitimate career prospects and the development of niche knowledge (these go hand and hand together)

3) You should not spend 90%+ of your time chasing girls, the only ones who get away with this are those with good family business connections or people who simply get lucky

4) You should learn how to outwork all of your peers, college is a time where you’re on your own so you will be forced to develop these skills solo

5) You should obtain internships/work experience in your field because the student with a 4.0 and no internships will not beat you for the top careers

If you follow the above five items you’re going to do extremely well in college. You will 1) exit with a better job than 99% of your peers, 2) develop personal work ethic/motivation, 3) obtain some niche knowledge in a field with good career prospects, 4) maintain a reasonable social life and 5) have a rolodex of other future successful people.

With the highlights out of the way lets go through a step by step process on how you’re going to set yourself up from the beginning.

The Application Process: Lets go ahead and cut to the chase. There is no point in attending a no-name university because the cost of education has skyrocketed and the job prospects are weak (low income) unless you attend a solid university. With that said the best way to break down the process is as follows:

Top Student? If you have solid grades in high school and a solid SAT score to back it up, apply directly to four year universities. In addition, if you are on the fence, apply to colleges that are slightly out of your league.

Mediocre Student? If you have sub-par grades and know that a meaningful university is out of the question, attend a community college with a high transfer rate to top schools. No point in incurring debt for a school that won’t increase your income correct? Correct.

What Major to Apply to? We are highlighting the word apply because you’re not going to apply to your major of choice. Go through the possible majors at each university and apply to the easiest major. As an example, if you want to get into the liberal arts section of the school do not apply to the difficult majors such as “undeclared” or “Economics” or “Psychology” which will be saturated with applications. Instead apply to a major no one cares about such as Ethnic Studies or an obscure foreign language major. You are doing this to simply gain admission, once inside the university the vast majority allow you to switch majors by your sophomore year. Make sure to check the switching rules. Most do allow this.

What Race to Check off? If possible always side with a minority group. Again not something people are going to tell you but both the major you choose and the minority group you associate with is going to drastically impact your admissions rate. Naturally this will only work if you are mixed, as an example if you are Hispanic and White or Asian and African American… Choose to apply as Hispanic/African American. It is the name of the game.

What Income Box to Check off? This is where a divorce will actually help you. Similar to major and race, colleges will consider economic background as well. If your mother and father are divorced, only claim one person (the lower earner) as your primary care taker. Do not combine the two and use an inflated income number.

What Type of Essay to Write? In a phrase “I want to help save the world and rid it of evil”. Okay not that drastic. The point is to avoid any sort of right leaning views and instead to have a philanthropy twist to your entire application. There are a few reasons for this 1) universities will call you for donations once you graduate, at least this gives a hint that you may be the type to donate later, 2) colleges are left leaning (heavily) and you’re better off assuming the reader is a bleeding heart liberal and 3) what type of person becomes an admissions counsellor? Enough said. As a side note, this is exactly why community service type activities are smiled upon by the admission staff.

As you can see, once you clear out a lot of the fluff there are only a few driving factors that are going to improve or act as a detriment to your applications. To summarize you are going to get the highest academic scores possible, write a left leaning essay, apply as a minority (if possible), apply to a major no one is interested in and understate family income if possible.

What is a Good College? We are relatively strict here so we would call this a Top 40 University or better (USA comment). This is not always the best answer and we can also include an income calculation method. If your additional net income from year one post graduation is equal to your debt load then it is likely a positive. This means your degree must add $X and that amount cannot exceed your total debt upon graduation of $Y.

Additional income from education in year one = Total Debt (ideally better)

Roughly speaking, if you’re able to pay every penny off by the end of year two, you will be in good shape. We are strict with this calculation. It is a good guideline as you will be out of debt by ~23-24 years of age.

With the income and debt side of the equation out of the way we can go ahead and narrow down the income estimation. This is key to building out your career/future income prospects.

Career Niche Knowledge Development: Start at a high level, go to your career center and track down every single major and find out which ones have the highest placement rates into the top companies/industries. Make no mistakes. This is the biggest part of your decision making process. If your college is unable to provide a laundry list of successful examples you shouldn’t attend that school. This step is so important that we would go ahead and triple check your work by doing the following:

1) Find the average starting salary for your major

2) Go on linked-in and find at least 10 alumni from the college for the last 2-3 years

3) Find at least 2-3 contacts where their grades are displayed, if their GPA is poor (below 3.5) chances are their family got them the job not the school. Make sure this is not the case for the majority of the successful alumni

Does this sound like a lot of work? Yes and no. It does take time but we can go ahead and cut through a lot of the fluff right here. If they obtained a high paying job and majored in Political Science, Ethnic Studies, any humanities major etc., they received the position through connections. They did not receive it from merit. Many years ago your major did not matter and you could simply obtain a 4.0 and find decent job prospects, but employers are wiser at this point in time. To weed through the insanity unless you went to a truly elite institution (Harvard-Yale-Princeton) assume that the only viable majors are 1) engineering based, 2) business based and 3) in some cases arithmetic based.

Generally, everything else can be crossed off the list.

What College Learning is and What it is Not:  When you first enter college you are told that you will be tasked to think for yourself and work extremely hard for high grades. This is a complete lie. This is probably the biggest lie told and we’ve heard a lot of lies in the past, here is the truth:

“College does not teach you to think for yourself it teaches you to think LIKE someone else

This is a major difference.

When you attend your first course you need to take note of how your professor thinks because it will determine your entire grade in the classroom. No one actually cares about your opinion on the topic at hand, particularly for the humanities/social science/general education piece of the curriculum. If your professor is a bleeding heart liberal, you better write like one. If your professor has an obsession with George W. Bush, you better take that side of the coin. If your professor loves trading options in his free time guess what questions will happen to show up on your mid-term? If your professor is an ex-bond trader, you can bet your last cent there will be a skew towards bond questions.

The real skill you develop is the ability to tell what topics interest a person.

The second piece we need to touch on here is work ethic. Your average college student is lazy, eats unhealthy food all day, is incredibly out of shape and cannot get motivated by himself. Take all of these traits and do the opposite. College actually teaches you to be lazy so you must learn to do the opposite.  This is a great problem to have because you can gain tremendous ground on your peers by outworking them. Keep yourself honest by keeping a journal and jotting down everything you need to do. A good idea for a workday is outlined below:

1) Attend all private teaching sessions (skip lectures if you are in a jam) 3-4 hours

2) Work your unpaid internships (freshman/sophomore) or your paid internship (junior/senior) 3-4 hours

3) Workout for at least 1 hour.

4) Study 1 hour

5) Join a group related to your major such as the finance club 1 hour

6) Intramural sports, socialize etc. for 1-2 hours

7) Write down your schedule and items accomplished for the day 15 minutes

8) Read for a book as you fall sleep, 30 minutes

This should represent a typical day, ~12 hours of actual activity and we assume ~1-2 hours of transit time. You will obtain at least 6-8 hours of sleep as well. If you can maintain this run rate of 12-14+ hours a day of actual work, you’re going to graduate in the top 5% from a job opportunity basis. We practically guarantee it. Finally, you’re going to learn a lot about multiple subjects which can lead to business ideas later.

Working Through the Years: With the backdrop out of the way, lets go ahead and give some guidelines on what to focus on each year so you can efficiently use your time to get ahead.

Freshman: There are two key things to focus on for your freshman year 1) obtaining high grades (shoot for a 4.0) and 2) meeting like minded individuals. Do your best to sort out the future winners from the future losers. It won’t be hard as the future winners will be seen sporadically (ie: coming out when they are free to have fun) and will be focused on grades for the time being. During the summer you can try to either get ahead on your general education course work or obtain a simple internship (even unpaid) in your field of work.

Sophomore: By now you have a good grasp for how much work it will take to maintain a ~3.7 GPA average. Maintain this work ethic and begin searching for internships, school groups and opportunities related to your future work. You will also have a bit more time to socialize as you have obtained an even better understanding of the requirements to succeed.

Junior: This is the game changing year. Everyone assumes it is the Senior year but it is not. Your junior year is where you put the clamps down on work experience and obtain the important paid summer internship. During your first semester you focus 75% on grades and 25% on interview preparation. Then you focus entirely on work experience/job preparation. Take a lighter course load in the back half of your junior year so you have as much time as possible to hit the ground hard.

Senior: At this point you should be on cruise control. Your GPA will unlikely waver much and you should have a job offer in hand. Focus on interviewing for more prestigious positions and make schoolwork come second. If you have a 3.7GPA+ into the recruiting season, seeing this drop to 3.5 or so by graduation time will not matter. Once you’re all set with your job by December of your Senior year, go ahead and relax. Find time to party and socialize, do some basic prep work for your job and most importantly make friends with every single person who landed a high paying position as well. Now you have time to have fun (you earned it) and you can quickly build out the rolodex from the future alumni.

Efficiency Key Points:

1) Use all online resources that show grade distributions/difficulty such as ratemyprofessors.com. There is no point in making a course harder when your transcript will only show a grade and the course taken.  Don’t be fooled, the vast majority of what you learn will not be used in the workforce.

2) Focus heavily on classes you are certain will be used on the job. For Wall Street this is beginning/intermediate accounting and corporate finance. The complex items are unnecessary for the vast majority of Wall Street.

3) Take advantage of early morning classes, most are too lazy to wake up and if there is an easier professor teaching early, jump on it

4) Frats/Groups all of these are fine, simply ask yourself if it is going to be a net drag or benefit to you later. Many frats have strong alumni support and many groups will be looked at positively by employers. The reverse statement is also true so be sure to do your due diligence

5) Remember that studying can be made up on weekends while internships rarely occur on weekends, use this as a guideline when you look at your schedule

Conclusion: There are a lot of misconceptions about College but generally the idea is as follows: 1) give yourself the best shot at the best schools/majors, 2) use an 80/20 rule for work/play until you’ve secured a solid future, 3) focus and learn in the courses that matter, 4) teach yourself discipline, 5) learn how to think like the other side of the table as they have no interest in your actual views and 6) there is no reason to make the experience harder than it needs to be.

Assuming you can execute efficiently here, the college experience should be fun but not the best time of your life. Your grades will be solid, your friends will be successful and you will have a lot of fun memories from partying on Spring Break to watching your grades take a cliff drop in your last quarter/semester. Execute on this plan and every year after college should be up and to the right.

Related: Public Or Private School? Depends On How Guilty You Feel 

Recommendation To Build Wealth

Track Your Finances In One Place: Sign up for Personal Capital, an award-winning and free online financial platform that aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can optimize your money, track your net worth, manage your cash flow, and analyze your portfolio for excess fees.

One of their best features is their Retirement Planner, which uses real input costs to spit out realistic cash flow numbers when you plan to retire. There’s no rewind button in life, so it’s important to run realistic scenarios to see whether you are financially on track.

Personal Capital Retirement Planner
Is your retirement on track? Click to run a free analysis

Update for 2017 and beyond.

Comments

  1. Jackson says

    “If they obtained a high paying job and majored in Political Science, Ethnic Studies, any humanities major etc., they received the position through connections.”

    Politely disagree. In Europe, every single employer across all industries i.e. Banking, Consulting, Tech, Law etc all accept any graduates with a 2.1 or better in this degree. Digging deeper, all employers will prefer to hire from the top schools. For example, in the United Kingdom, the top unis are – Oxbridge, UCL, Warwick, LSE, Imperial followed by the rest of the Russell Group Schools.

    I have countless friends that landed jobs at several great employers who I can point to who have arts degrees from the following Universities i.e History, Politics, Economics, English, Geography etc who all displayed lots of talent at University be it publishing a dissertation, handling several high profile part time jobs or running societies etc. None of them achieved their positions with connections. They do exist at least here in Europe.

    I will concede that it is almost always better to study a STEM degree preferably something like engineering or mathematics or economics for a front office gig in Financial Services but I have met plenty of arts graduates without these degrees. I know plenty of traders, sales people, tech people etc with arts degrees.

    The other mistake I personally made was not exercising enough. At college it is paramount that you learn the following 1) How to cook/eat properly/nutrition and 2) Exercise 3x a week. Believe me 80% of people will not do this and spend their time picking up bad habits ie smoking, shisha, drugs, over zealous drinking etc on a weekly basis. Over three years the damage will be apparent and these are bad habits to enter your 20s with. Avoid this behaviour. No one is saying don’t drink or have fun but please make sure you are not over indulging.

    Finally, something which paid off immensely for me was making friends with SMART high performing students in the year above. If you make friends with these people they have already done what you have done and scored highly in exams, essays and what have you. Find out what success is like and figure out what you can repurpose into your own work. It is not cheater and this will save you immense amounts of time. You will learn what good work and bad work looks like. I cannot over estimate this..

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      This again is a Europe versus USA dynamic.

      These days if you apply to a major firm/investment bank with a degree in Politicial science/ethnic studies you will not get an interview.

      We have covered this in the past, that may fly in Europe, Australia etc. But it will absolutely not fly here too much competition.

      We agree with the rest of your comments. If you go to Political science with no finance coursework you’re going to have practically 0% shot at getting into the Street in the USA. At least to name brand companies. this is simply a Europe versus USA issue.

    • Final year student in the UK says

      If you replace Europe with UK in this post, this does apply – if you go to Oxbridge, UCL, Warwick, LSE, Imperial, you can still have a shot at FO jobs with a liberal arts degree. All the other unis – very little chance, you’re 300% better off getting a finance-related degree. In continental Europe, if you didn’t study for a finance-related major, you can pretty much forget about getting into finance.

      Also, this is a brilliant post you guys wrote – every 1st year student would benefit from reading this. Also, you’ve got a great skill of understanding the bigger picture and simplifying concepts.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        That sounds similar to the USA in that case. We are not familiar with the European market so we do not comment on it.

        In the USA if you go to Harvard, Yale, Princeton then you can certainly find a way to get in with a non-finance degree, just take a few finance courses and spin your “brain power”. If you try this stint at a good but not stellar school your resume will never get past HR, too many solid candidates with finance/business degrees from strong but not amazing schools (NYU as an example).

  2. G says

    Hey WSP,

    You guys mention how the only way to truly get rich is to start your own business. Yet the majority of the time, you’re discussing how to obtain jobs, how to advance your career, and other job-related things like dealing with office politics. Can you explain this dichotomy?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Good question. The reason is two fold. 1) lowering your risk without impacting your future and 2) keeping your mind open and actively searching for ideas.

      Generally, most people need to develop a good set of knowledge before they are able to capitalize and start a business. As an example many tech start ups are actually created by people who are “ex-Google employees” or Ex-XYZ start up employees.

      Therefore, unless you already have a viable and intelligent business idea, you should build a career in the mean time

      A career is where you are paid for what you kill and where you are moved up *primarily* based on performance. There is *always* a political component.

      So the long story short is we are outlining how to build a successful career while you think of good business ideas.

      You should not sit around working at starbucks while waiting for the “big idea to hit you” you should build a solid career (contacts) and if you come up with a viable business then you can quit with the money funded from your savings.

  3. AC says

    Wish I had this freshman year.
    Mistakes I made and learned the hardway:
    1. Joined a fraternity and partied my ass off and my grades tailed off.
    2. Didn’t take care of my health. Drank too much and got sick all the time. Ate unhealthy food.

    Glad to say that I got my act together by junior – senior year and landed an investment banking job. Worked my tail off for it and am going to keep grinding.

    I think it’s important to note to all readers that you’re major will change. There is no doubt about it. The WSJ had an article a few years back that 80% of all college students change their major at least once. The point being don’t let what you think you’re going to do at 18 dictate what you’re going to be doing at 22. Like I said I’m going to be going into investment banking after I graduate.. Will I be a career banker for the rest of my life? No probably not. But like this article says it’s best to set yourself up for success and investment banking provides the best training ground / skillset to succeed in a variety of careers. Who knows where I’ll be 2 years from now.. ? Private equity, Hedge fund or non finance related..

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Yeah college is actually a perfect example of do the opposite.

      Most party freshman year then play catchup junior and senior year

      however…

      If you do the opposite, your GPA looks higher come recruiting time and no one cares about your grades your last semester just get drunk and have fun.

      Glad to hear about the success! Be sure to run those office politics and work hard AC.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        Don’t see eye to eye there.

        In reality would have spent even more time on work as a freshman/sophomore. 90/10 to be completely honest.

        The top top jobs to the Street have become even more lucrative, you can go straight to the buyside and skip the sell side. $300K+ by 25 years old.

        Girls are easier when you’re 30 and you’re set for life by 29.

        Hindsight is 20/20 though.

      • Shane says

        Yeah I don’t think I could do that, my productivity drops like a rock when I’m not getting laid on a regular basis. If I joined a cool fraternity when I had the chance I would have had more time for school/internships because my social/sex life would more or less be provided for.

        But like yous said, hindsight is 20/20.

        Btw, definitely want to know more about buy side rolls straight out of college. You guys gonna do a post on that?

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        As it stands no post on deck since the set up is for the 1% of the 1%.

        The good but side jobs go to people with 1) investment banking internship as a sophomore to junior year – or something similar and 2) the true top of class at the top 5 universities.

        Most people will end up doing the general sell side role before moving to the buyside. Going back in time, this is likely why we disagree on the pain being worth it.

        1.5 years of heavy investment when younger pays more dividends over the next 10, investing in yourself is exactly like stocks. It compounds. Therefore the earlier the better.

        Would rather put $10K into the stock market in 1980 than put $20K in today.

  4. john says

    Accounting in my school is ranked top 10 in the nation, but I don’t really like accounting. Do you think I should major in it?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      The better question to ask is “what do you want to do” then you ask “how do you get there”

      We suggest going to your career center and finding out what the best options are at your school.

  5. Anonymous says

    I really wish I came across something like this back five years ago. My spread was 60/40 instead of 80/20 all throughout college, and now that I’ve been in the work force for a little under a year, I have come to realize that I wish I did things differently.

    Great post guys.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Well, it sounds like you are in your low 20s. In that case you have plenty of time to make adjustments by asking yourself the hard questions

      1) is this a legitimate career? (note a job is something where you are not paid for performance and only see 4-5% annual increases) Don’t make up lies or false upside scenarios, look within your firm and industry and see the pay scale increase or decrease by looking at people 10-15+ years older than you
      2) If not then what field can you spin yourself into that will offer better options?
      3) Start going 85/15 where 85% of effort is getting into a better path, your social skills should be on point and it does not take more than 5-10 hours a week to get your fill of fun and partying if you were already in the “scene” for the last 4+ years.

      Investing really is the best analogy to all of these decision making processes.

      • Anonymous says

        Thanks for the response to my original comment. You are correct, I’m 23.

        I’m currently in compliance, supporting PE and REI at one of the top financial institutions. It was actually through this job where I started wanting more and adjusted my 60/40 to skew more to work (outside of the job). If I were to redo everything, I’d definitely transfer to a target school and attempt to break into IBD.. is this still out of the question?

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        ? Of you are in the work force then we suggest the MBA/CFA route as outlined above

        If you are still a student then you have ample time to break in. Take finance courses and use all the advice laid out through this blog.

        We have an entire post dedicated to non-target recruiting.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      As long as you do not hurt your career prospect no one will care.

      IE: do not take a study abroad during Junior summer internship recruiting season and do not take a study abroad program during your job search (fall of senior year).

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        It’s mixed generally call it November to February. This varies quite a bit due to quarter vs. Semester systems + what type of career you want.

        Your career center will have the answer, just look at the job/interview slots when you’re a freshman, it takes 20 minutes or so.

  6. Bruce says

    Wow I really wish I followed this advice when I was in college. Graduated from college with a 2.x GPA, and working in the healthcare tech industry. Mid 20s, so any way to spin this off for a transition to equity research as a healthcare specialist?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      If it is a non-target school, it will be very tough. Unfortunately you may need to get an MBA.

      If your career is solid on the medical side and you have no finance background, pass CFA level 1 and then smash on doors to get into a smaller firm in the medical space. That is your best “spin” to avoid the MBA adjustment,

  7. Switch says

    I feel like joining a good frat at the start of Freshmen year is a good idea because you will have all of your social activities taken care of by the frat. It’ll be hard rushing for the first semester of freshmen year while maintaining good grades, but if you can get a 4.0 you’ll be able to maintain good grades the rest of college, while also having a reasonable social life. I feel if you are always sacrificing the present for the future, you’ll end up in a cycle that you can’t break out of where you never allow yourself to enjoy yourself.

    I guess it is a personal choice of whether to kill yourself in the classroom for 3.5 years for a slight advantage or to work reasonably hard for 3.5 years while enjoying yourself and then spend a year making up in your career.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Not sure what you mean by this comment, no where does it say to lose 3.5 years the strategy, to be more clear is as follows:

      First semester you get a 4.0 so you understand the system
      Then you can consider the social addition (joining a frat is not a bad idea, just make sure you can handle the additional responsibilities)
      Sophomore you can work some easy internships (related to your sector) and spend a few nights a week with the boys/having fun
      You crank it up and land fpgreat internships sophomore/junior time frame
      You get the job offer
      You then recruit/relax
      All out partying your last semester

      You still have a fine social life. No one needs to party 40 hours week. 10-15 is plenty. 10 or so when younger 15 in the middle, 40+ once you’re set and light years ahead of your peers.

  8. Weibao says

    Did you mean first year Net Income greater than or equal to total debt load than that cost is worthwhile for a college?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      No.

      If you cannot pay the debt off within ~18 months the investment has a poor return.

      Remember to factor in living costs as well.
      —-
      Edit: Apologies, error on our part, we messed up and simplified the equation.

      Additional income due to education/degree = Total Debt Load.

      This is stricter, meaning your additional education must give you a payback after year 1. IE: you can pay off all debt by the time you have worked one full calendar year. Remember to factor in odd jobs you work while in college to avoid debt.

      • IBDAnalyst says

        How would paying off student debt factor into an analyst budget? Would you try to pay off as Mich as possible instead of building an emergency stash fund? Also curious to your budget breakdowns as IBD analysts. Thanks

  9. Graduate says

    I was in the best university in Canada for pre-med. The plan that you give here does not seem to work (I needed to study at least 12 hrs/day to keep up — this is a ridiculous pace that I could not sustain). I am finishing up my fourth year and my first two years were solid (GPA 3.85) and then I started making mistakes and my marks went downhill. Needless to say, with the way things are right now and a total breaking down of my discipline I can’t get into medical school unless I do a special program that thrusts you into the belly of the beast so to say (puts you in a same class with medical students and you have to get higher grades than the average – if you don’t you can’t get into med school).

    The way things are looking for me right now, is I need a dose of discipline, and I am lost at what to do. I was thinking of going to Serve in the Army for a few years and then come back and do the program I mentioned above, and hopefully succeed.

    What do you think about Serving in the Army? Few people do it (at least amongst my peers), so maybe it is the correct course of action?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      1. We have never recommended medical as a career and have even stated (in the ask us anything section) it is a bad move from a financial perspective. The careers (opinion) we recommend are 1) technology/engineering, 2) Wall Street, 3) starting your own business and 4) any niche field with high income such as high end consulting (anything where income goes up 10%+ a year or is performance based), 5) sales

      2. The military is a different track and we strongly suggest you reach out to ex-military, from a Wall Street perspective, military men usually come back, obtain a top tier MBA and come in as associates.

      • Graduate says

        How can you start your own business, having just completed a pre-med career and lacking in skills?

        What do you mean by technology sector? I thought it referred to medicine like a STEM field?

        Finally, were can I find ex-military from a Wall Street perspective?

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        1) business ideas rarely have to do with your major, they have to do with your niche knowledge set. It sounds tacky but you have to ask what you “know a lot about” if you cannot find a niche where your information would be pertinent then you need to find a product that people need (and you have to create it). Look at history and most people who start successful business start them in sectors unrelated, practically 100% unrelated, to their major.

        2. We are referring to jobs at major companies with high pay, this can range from Cisco and google to Genentech. The stem field is less important than the return on investment. We again strongly recommend going to your career center, “what majors landed what jobs and what was the average pay”. As the saying goes… The numbers don’t lie.

        3. You can go on linked in and find associates in Wall Street (sell side and even some buy side) and try to contact them about their path.

  10. gman says

    Whats your opinion on trying to attend a top 14 law school after undegrad if you didnt go to a top undergrad school? I read somewhere that employment for corporate law grew slightly this year.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Run the same equation to see if it is worth it.

      In addition, remember you have to be in the top 10% of the school to land the top law jobs.

  11. IBDAnalyst says

    With regards to college debt, how would paying off student debt factor into an anakysts’s budget? Would you prioritize that over building an emergency fund?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Save ~$700 a month put the rest towards debt. When you hit $7K in savings go ahead and pay it off aggressively.

      Once you have about 2 months of “scrape by living” in the bank you can be aggressive, unemployment would net you roughly $2K. This means you would have about 3 months to find a job which is certainly doable if you were good enough to land a job on the street.

  12. IBDAnalyst says

    What about budgeting? What percentage of your pay should housing, food, entertainment,etc.take up? Should I assume that the entire bonus be used towards debt repayment?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Roughly 1/3 rent + utilities, 1/3 food + entertainment, 1/3 savings.

      Yes we covered the bonus, even if you are a poor saver and blow all your base salary, never spend your bonus. Save 100% of it.

      Also this implies you live with a roomate(s) since you won’t be spending much time at home when you work 80 hours a week. It makes no sense to have high rent expense by living alone as a 22 year old.

  13. john says

    Accounting is number 4 in the country, there have been 50 internships in the big 4 this spring. Finance department on the other hand is not so great, it’s a non-target. How bad is going from Big 4 -> IBD

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      It will be extremely difficult to jump from accounting to IB (can be done but is not easy).

      If you want to work on Wall Street

      1. Read our post on non-target recruiting
      2. Use accounting as a back up (go into transactional services)
      3. If you can’t make the jump from accounting to IB, your best bet is an MBA

      • john says

        We have good connections with Stephens in Little Rock. I’m not sure what to aim for – that or Big 4 + MBA(Seems more plausible,since they recruit here heavily)

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        In that case our advice is the same, complete your accounting internship and attempt to break into the regional banks that recruit at your school.

        Landing an accounting job will be easy, if you do not succeed at landing a Wall Street job then go to options 2 and 3.

  14. says

    At 22 years old is it still worth aiming at a finance degree to try and enter Wall Street?
    I am currently at a low sales job netting about 50k and building side income to make up the other 30k.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      You’d need to pass the CFA level 1 and then go the MBA route if you can get promoted quickly.

      The good news is that you’re in sales. Try to move to larger sales, ie: don’t sell low end products since commissions are lower.

  15. Anonymous says

    Hi Guys,
    Quick question for you, if the ultimate goal is IB in NYC then would I be better off at a top tier American school, but pay full price or go to one of, if not the best school in Canada for free?
    On a separate note I broker deals between startups and VCs since getting a normal high school job seems boring. Suprisingly, the issue is not getting VCs to invest but convincing startup founders( who think they’re a mix of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg) to sell. Do you guys have an ideas?
    Many thanks,
    If any other readers have expertise in the above areas please weigh in,

  16. Toto Weng says

    Wow what a great article. Just curious, how important is it to find an internship during my sophomore and maybe junior year? Do banks also desire leadership and extracurricular experiences? My current schedule is a little challenging so I’m spending more time studying and I’m afraid that this will hurt me in the future where I will only have a lean list of extracurricular and leadership positions. My last question is, does taking on a minor like math or economics improve my chances in the future? I’m currently a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin and I wanted to focus more on my studies.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Sophomore year 8/10 importance. You will be lucky to obtain an IB position.

      Junior year it is a *must* have. Will trump everything else on your shiny new resume.

      No one cares about extra curriculars beyond the finance club. Take some position in the finance club above “member” status, then spend all of your time keeping a 3.5+ gpa.

      Once you have a 3.5+ GPA you go straight to work experience, you should have at least 4-5 positions by the time you graduate if you want a top tier position.

      The last question is answered in our FAQ. In short no. We are guessing you are new here.

      Get a 3.5+ in something biz/finance related then get loads of work experience. Everything else is basically a cherry on top.

  17. Jack says

    So according to this guide would graduating with no debt from your flagship state school which is a non target be better than graduating from a private semi target with a sizeable amount of debt could you clarify?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Use the equations above. Run the math.

      We can’t answer that based on the vague outline.

      1) how much *more* will you make out of the private school
      2) how much *more* will you make from state school

      Find the difference. There is your answer.

      • Jack says

        Would you be willing to look at my specific situation with all the financial details via email? I’m finding it especially difficult to calculate and decide because I want to break into ib and no one I’ve talked to has any Idea of what it is or how to get there. Thanks for all the helpful posts too I love the site.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        We don’t do private consulting we wouldn’t even do it if it was paid for. We did those in the past to build a brand but no longer have the time to spend doing it.

        That said your second question is completely unrelated to the first one you asked.

        If you want to go into IB… Go to the career center of both schools and see which one has the most banks recruiting at the school. That is the one you choose.

        They are unrelated questions because if one school has no banks and the other one has 20+, you should find ways to get a partial scholarship and work to avoid going into large amounts of debt.

        Personal finance decisions are up to you, run the math yourself (not being rude) no one should make these decisions for you. The math never lies.

        Good luck! It shouldn’t take more than 2 days to figure out the answer if you follow the post and do your research.

  18. Jason says

    Thank you so much for this post!!! I’m 18 and currently in my first year (freshers) at Warwick University doing a Maths related degree. While I can usually perform better than average on my assignments, it only works when I can actually get enough self-motivation to complete the work and do the background reading.

    My routine was working very well for the first 3-4 weeks of term and consistently got 80% in most of my assignments but maintaining this kind of routine became difficult and I lost the flow after a serious blow in one of my subject assignments getting only 10%.

    While I love the detail and completely agree with the level of work that’s required I struggle to maintain such a routine and would love to have any help on how to maintain a consistent and well-motivated routine for the whole year. Consistency is absolutely vital for me as missing even a day or two of work can massively affect my assignment results and my overall performance. It also hugely affects my level of motivation and it makes becoming lazy such an easy option to take.

    Again, thank you so much for this post and every other post! So many of your posts have resonated with me and have helped me temporarily out of this slump of doing nothing. Any advice on how to maintain and AND stay ahead of a heavy level of work over the long-term would be so much appreciated!

  19. pete says

    Hello, very nice article you guys have here. I’m taking a long hard look back on my life and realize I made a lot of mistakes. I dropped out of community college after a pathetic attempt at it. I am now 22 years old and have a really bad outlook on school. Mainly because people tell me it isnt worth it to pursue a degree at my age. I’ve been told that any decent employer would laugh at my resume and move on to someone younger and smarter.
    In your opinion, is it worth it to pursue a degree after a bad start at a low point(community college)?

  20. T says

    Hello WSPs,

    I completely bummed out my freshman year of college. Was diagnosed with ADHD and used that as a license to be super lazy. Going to end up with a 3.1 GPA for this year. On top of this, I missed the chance to attend a top school and instead chose attend my state uni (top 50 or so). Is it too late to make the push for a lucrative career?

    Thanks,
    T

  21. Jon says

    Hi, I am currently enrolled at an extremely prestigious college (a united states service academy) and maintain a 3.7 GPA. I am in my freshman year here, though at another civilian school I would be a junior; I have around 90 credits. If I start my 3rd year here I will have to sign a contract for 5 years of military service as an officer; I have 1 year until I am required to sign this contract. I am currently grinding really hard in affiliate marketing, 6 months in, and just hit profitable days. My goals are to be a “playboy” and travel the world. I don’t know whether I should,

    1. Leave college and grind 14 hours a day in my “business.”
    2. Leave the academy and finish college with a full ride somewhere else.
    3. Stay at the academy and graduate with a prestigious degree, serve for 5 years, and then try to make $$$.

    All I care about it health, wealth, love, and happiness. What could you recommend given my situation and options? Tried to condense this as much as possible. Thank-you for your time as I know you are very busy.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Since you’re young we’re letting this slide (not throwing it directly into spam).

      This is a terrible question as stated in our *start here* section so we’re not going to answer because you did not bother to read the page.

      Read our posts on how to scale your business and live your own life. We’re not a life coach.

      • Jon says

        Let me rephrase my question please:

        Hi, I go to a prestigious school. I’m not sure if committing 5 years of military service is a good idea just for a prestigious diploma. Should I finish here or transfer to another college where there is no required commitment? (I also read the post on how to ask questions)

        Thanks for your patience. Really appreciate it.

  22. Milo says

    Great write up as usual WSP.

    I feel this would be a good question for you to clarify.

    You mention that in order to have good network connections in college, the college must be a “top 40 college”. What is a list that shows the top 40 Universities? Is it a top 40 undergrad business school or a top 40 college overall?

  23. Bachelormistakes says

    I did not have resources like WSP around when I started college and I just finished this past spring with a lot of mistakes. Coming from an immigrant family, I was pushed into being a doctor because that is the only way to have a stable six figure income. I was spineless back then and let my parents intimidate me into majoring in something I hated. Grades were not good but parents kept pushing me into it saying “at least with a science degree you will have a job!”.

    I was a Bio major on the pre-med track and my college years were filled with issues and bad mistakes. Took me 5 and a half years to graduate because I could not even make the bare minimum cutoff grade of a C in some of the upper level science courses.

    Finished college with a 2.1 GPA and about 160 credit hours.

    Is there any way I can break into any of the professions like sales or wall street now for the rest of my life? If it matters any, I went to a state flagship university that is a top 20 public university.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.