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View Full Version : Life Education advice needed (particularly those in Finance)


Third Eye
11-05-2010, 07:14 PM
I hesitate to bring "life" questions before a football board, but I figure there is a decent cross-section of folks here so maybe I'll get some good feedback.

My first time through college I studied Philosophy for some reason. I went back to school at 30 to pursue a degree with a little more real world value and something that played to my quant strengths. So now at 33, I'm finishing a BS in Economics. The plan has been to continue into grad school at Maryville University here in St. Louis and get a MSc of Actuarial Science with the intent of going into financial consulting. While most have probably never heard of Maryville, their Actuarial program is very highly regarded nationally. In the course of my prep for grad school I took the GRE a couple of months back. I scored well and have since been contacted by numerous finance programs around the nation. Most of them didn't really interest me as their programs couldn't do any more for me than Maryville's. However, I was recently contacted by Cal-Berkely's Financial Engineering program.

Suddenly, I'm rethinking my plan as Berkely is, well, Berkely. Moving is not an issue as once I finish my degree here I would probably by moving anyway as St. Louis is not exactly a financial center. Berkely is more expensive, but not so much more to be prohibitive. My question to those with experience would be: in such a technical field will a Berkely degree really open more doors? Or offer more of an earnings potential to justify the added expense? Any advice would be appreciated.

chiefzilla1501
11-05-2010, 07:34 PM
I hesitate to bring "life" questions before a football board, but I figure there is a decent cross-section of folks here so maybe I'll get some good feedback.

My first time through college I studied Philosophy for some reason. I went back to school at 30 to pursue a degree with a little more real world value and something that played to my quant strengths. So now at 33, I'm finishing a BS in Economics. The plan has been to continue into grad school at Maryville University here in St. Louis and get a MSc of Actuarial Science with the intent of going into financial consulting. While most have probably never heard of Maryville, their Actuarial program is very highly regarded nationally. In the course of my prep for grad school I took the GRE a couple of months back. I scored well and have since been contacted by numerous finance programs around the nation. Most of them didn't really interest me as their programs couldn't do any more for me than Maryville's. However, I was recently contacted by Cal-Berkely's Financial Engineering program.

Suddenly, I'm rethinking my plan as Berkely is, well, Berkely. Moving is not an issue as once I finish my degree here I would probably by moving anyway as St. Louis is not exactly a financial center. Berkely is more expensive, but not so much more to be prohibitive. My question to those with experience would be: in such a technical field will a Berkely degree really open more doors? Or offer more of an earnings potential to justify the added expense? Any advice would be appreciated.

I'm not totally familiar with either program.

But from my experience is that education is sort of important. What's more important is being in a program that will set you up for a better job. I don't know how Maryville is regarded in terms of placement in actuarial jobs. First I've heard of their actuarial science reputation. But I can only imagine that Berkeley's reputation is so stellar that it can get you a job almost anywhere.

If I were you, I'd take a very close look at career placement rates at both programs. I would also look at how well both career services offices are at preparing you to kick ass in the job hunt. I've found that there are a lot of real good schools who have no fucking clue how to prep people for interviews, etc..., and frankly, if you don't understand how to network, interview, etc..., then your education isn't going to take you nearly as far.

Third Eye
11-05-2010, 07:49 PM
I'm not totally familiar with either program.

But from my experience is that education is sort of important. What's more important is being in a program that will set you up for a better job. I don't know how Maryville is regarded in terms of placement in actuarial jobs. First I've heard of their actuarial science reputation. But I can only imagine that Berkeley's reputation is so stellar that it can get you a job almost anywhere.

If I were you, I'd take a very close look at career placement rates at both programs. I would also look at how well both career services offices are at preparing you to kick ass in the job hunt. I've found that there are a lot of real good schools who have no fucking clue how to prep people for interviews, etc..., and frankly, if you don't understand how to network, interview, etc..., then your education isn't going to take you nearly as far.

Well, that is part of the problem. As far as straight actuarial programs go, Maryville touts the best job placement rate in the nation. It has been near 100% for the last decade. My concern is that alot of those numbers are folks working in insurance, which most actuaries do, but I have NO desire to. So I'm not really sure what Maryville's numbers are telling me.

chiefzilla1501
11-05-2010, 07:57 PM
Well, that is part of the problem. As far as straight actuarial programs go, Maryville touts the best job placement rate in the nation. It has been near 100% for the last decade. My concern is that alot of those numbers are folks working in insurance, which most actuaries do, but I have NO desire to. So I'm not really sure what Maryville's numbers are telling me.

I would agree with that. If you know you want to be in insurance, it might not be a bad path. My sense is that Berkeley will open a lot more doors for you in the future. I don't know this specific program's reputation at Berkeley, but I know Berkeley's reputation in general is stellar. I went to a graduate program with stellar placement rates... on paper. I can assure you that not all those opportunities were great and that plenty of doors were closed purely because of school reputation.

I'd take a close look at those who were placed recently by Maryville. Particularly those in the middle of the class, as opposed to the superstars. I'd do the same for Berkeley. And I'd look at people today and people 5 years down the road. And also, factor in cost of living. I don't know the answer, but I'll guess that Berkeley grads have better jobs making more money on both.