I’m a junior in high school with an end goal of a career in the stock market. I first learned what the stock market was when I received shares of Apple (AAPL) and Nike (NKE) for my tenth birthday. Since then, I have increased my portfolio to 19 stocks. I use Google Sheets, specifically Google finance formulas, to keep track of my profits and create algorithms to predict the stock market for future purchases.
And now I’m using these same spreadsheet skills to meticulously plan out my options for college/university using 22 columns as filters: how many majors relevant to my interest each school has, school size, number of students admitted from my school, overall acceptance rate, business undergraduate school acceptance rate, etc. I do admit I may go a little overboard, but it is how my brain works.
ONE CHALLENGE: BUSINESS SCHOOL OR LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE?
One major roadblock I have run into is deciding whether to apply to business school or to go to a liberal arts college. Everyone tells me that not many people are this passionate about a specific field at the age of 16. The upside of this early eagerness is that business school would just be a continuation of what I already know I love. The possible downside is I could become so narrowly focused on finance that it would be hard to get a job in any other field, if I suddenly develop a passion for something else such as English or science.
Still, the reason I think business school would be a good fit for me is when I’m researching stocks or creating an algorithm, it does not seem like work. And I think that aligns with Warren Buffett’s famous career advice: “Look for the job that you would take if you didn’t need a job.” Warren Buffett is well past the retirement age at 86 years old and does not need to continue working with a net worth of $73 billion, yet he still is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
ONE HURDLE: THE ACCEPTANCE RATES AT BUSINESS SCHOOLS ARE LOWER
Most undergraduate business school acceptance rates are lower (more difficult) than the acceptance rate of the college as a whole. New York University, for example, has an overall acceptance rate in the low 30’s, yet its undergraduate business school only admits a mere 12 percent of its applicants. This significant variation is because of New York’s prime location and employment opportunities on Wall Street. Cornell is another example where location influences the business school acceptance rate. Cornell is infamously known as the worst ivy, but it is, in fact, the hardest undergraduate business school to get into in the country, with a mere seven percent acceptance rate.
For colleges with significantly more selective business schools than their overall acceptance rate, it might be worth it to apply as a liberal arts major and then transfer into the business program. However, the counterargument to this would be to apply to schools with direct admit programs into the business school to guarantee your spot in there. Some schools that offer direct admissions include University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler), Southern Methodist University (Cox) and University of Wisconsin.
HOW I MADE MY OWN COLLEGE LIST
The first step when making a list of schools is to start big. I started by creating a list of every college on the five-year matriculation list for my high school. For me, that was 111 schools. Then, I applied two filters to eliminate about 50 of those schools: screening for the number of students and acceptance rates. I prefer a smaller college so I eliminated every school with more than 25,000 students. Then, based on your own capabilities, you can eliminate some schools that are too easy and maybe some that might be too much of a reach. For the remaining 61 schools, you can filter by location (proximity to a city such as Midtown in New York), if they have a business school or not, if they have a specific major you are interested in, such as finance, and if they have depth in business related majors so you can change your major without having to transfer schools.
ONLY THE START OF A SEARCH
In the end, I know college is just one piece of the puzzle. For almost any career, internships, building relationships, a passion for your subject are just as important. If I decide to go to a liberal arts school, I will not be worried about not pursuing business because I can get an MBA after college, which entails an even deeper understanding than you might get in an undergraduate business school. I want to conclude with a wish of good luck to students and their families during their college search!
Murray Green is a junior at the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Mass. He earned highest distinction last semester and is founder and president of the school’s Stock Algorithm Club (STAC), He loves numbers and statistics–and the stock market. And will be writing about his experiences in applying to college for Poets&QuantsforUndergrads.