CHANCE ME- a tired first gen student

Their financial aid options are exceedingly generous, UC Berkeley’s is not.


Thank you for the clarification. You absolutely do not need to major in accounting to go into investment banking.

You have an excellent GPA, and really, that is what your instate publics consider. They are test blind. You have a chance of acceptance at your reach schools but you might want to consider adding a couple of more likely instate options. It’s just a suggestion.

So…you are hoping for need based aid that will bring your cost of attendance down to below the $38,000 a year or so it costs to attend Cal? Is that correct?

I’m assuming you have run the net price calculator for each of the above colleges. And that your parents aren’t divorced, don’t own a business, aren’t self employed, and aren’t owners of real estate other than your residence. In addition, are your parents citizens? This doesn’t impact your ability to get need based aid, but it might be funky especially if they have earnings from another country.


I just noticed your 2nd teacher for LOR is speech and debate. Schools request ‘core subjects.’ You have math but you need a science, history, English or language teacher.

Yale, as one example, states this as do others. See the link.

So in essence with what you’re proposing, your application won’t be seen as ‘following directions’ so I would fix that asap so it’s not held against you.

Good luck.

Not only that, but accounting majors are unlikely to be attractive IB applicants (and for OP investment banking is not asset management, which OP stated earlier in the thread was the career goal).


This is really important which I mentioned earlier in the thread, to which OP has yet to respond.


I have no interest in intangible things like “rank” or “pedigree.” However, to pursue Investment Banking and then on, asset management, my outcome of success would significantly increase with attending any of the above mentioned schools. This, a result of due diligence from multiple sources. Therefore, these are my choices. So, attending a non-target UC (or any others), would essentially equate to a community college, which has around a 100% acceptance rate. Because of this discrepency I see no need to apply to other match/safety schools, when I can always apply to my local community college, and save time/stress/money/work. Especially when, career wise, they are very similar to eachother.

And CA does have a nice community college to four year college transfer thing. If that’s OK with you, that’s a good thing.

I would very strongly urge you to read the thread I’m linking below. Read the whole thing. It’s older, but the general drift of it still applies. This was a very very strong student and he got shut out completely when he applied to colleges. He did do a very well thought out gap year and landed on his feet when he applied the next year. But the angst could have been avoided if he had had a better match and safety on his list.


First off your background and credentials are extremely impressive. You will be competitive at any and all schools. Like others have strongly suggested please ensure you apply to some schools that are an easier admit that are financially m feasible.

I am both a 30+ year investment banker and (not sure why this was asked of anyone) but I have spent considerable time either recruiting analysts, as a parent, or attending as a graduate student all of the schools you listed (with the exception of the UC). With the possible exception of Wharton, a typical I bank path would not include an accounting background much less a formal concentration.

First year I Banking analysts typically go through a rotational training program that included formal training in credit analysis, accounting, cash flow modeling, etc. dovetailed into experiences with several deal teams across sectors.

In other words I Banks hire people based on the individuals perceived capacity to communicate in written and verbal form, analyze and dissect complex situations, problem solve, work as teammates, etc. The requisite “hard” skills are learned and or taught on the fly or in training sessions or once you go to B school.

I know highly successful bankers who ranged in background from comparative religion to applied math to finance. No set path or golden ticket.

I respect your interest in accounting but please don’t view it as a means to an end. I would also be aware that when someone asks you why accounting answering I have always wanted to be a banker won’t fly. It will actually hurt your chances.

Being a good banker (and most jobs) requires a soft skill set rooted in intellectual curiosity and diverse interests. Find and apply to some safeties, ignore people that are condescending and mean and enjoy your education by pursuing things of interest. I hope this helps.

Just editing to incorporate your comments…

Yes some schools are disproportionately represented on Wall Street but there are tons of other paths. You will be doing yourself a disservice not to build in a contingency plan.


I strongly disagree that you can only do IB from those schools and the rest is akin to going to a community college. Also note Many will end up in grad school first. I put a feeder list link below for you.

Google your favorite banks and LinkedIn. IB now happens all of the country and many of these companies are recruiting widespread because these companies are located in Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas, Nashville etc. Also LACs do well.

Fix your LOR and best of luck.

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We don’t know if meet full need schools will be affordable unless you run the NPCs.

If they would work, there are some less selective meet full need schools that place in banking that might work…Lehigh, Trinity college and Connecticut college for example. Those schools could be better options for you (as long as affordable) than the CC to UC route (assuming your career goals stay the same).


Agreed and I would look at Villanova, Holy Cross and Fordham if the religious affiliation isn’t a turn off. All three are “target” on campus recruiting stops for bulge bracket i banks, similar locations to the schools on your list, easier admits and offer FA.


As a prospective I-banker, you need to learn what due diligence is- and it is NOT “asking around”.

There are at least a dozen schools easier to get admitted to than the ones on your list which produce students who are recruited by I-banks every year. And they provide significant advantages over a community college education.

Do some actual due diligence-- look at the recruiting calendars of the big investment banks, look at where they are hiring from (and who- likely fewer than 10 accounting majors spread across all the big institutions), and THEN come up with a list.

You have a better shot at I-banking majoring in physics, political science, linguistics (or any social science with a rigorous statistics track) than you do accounting. But no time like the present to learn what bankers do- and it starts with actual due diligence, fact finding, analysis, drawing conclusions based on verifiable data.



Please listen to the above posters who are telling you that you need an additional core course LOR. For some of your colleges, this is required…not an option. Your application will be incomplete without the required LOR…meaning…it won’t be looked at.


@White_Rose1 Responding to the Lehigh recommendation for IB - to enter IB from Lehigh, you generally need to be enrolled in the Honors IBE program (Integrated Business and Engineering).

That said, you do not need to go anywhere specific to enter IB. But you do need to have a passion for finance and you need to start finding internships and shadow opportunities early. Those opportunities are typically found through the school (either formally via the career center or informally via networking with students, alumni, and professors).

Like you, I was a first gen student. I found that attending an elite private undergraduate school really taught me a lot about how to handle myself in situations and conversations that had never arisen in my lower middle class community. So for these reasons, I agree that attending an elite school would be more advantageous than attending an in-state public. That said, as others have mentioned, you simply can’t count on entrance to the tippy top schools.

I have a few suggestions:

  1. Do some research to identify the top universities with the best financial aid programs. Give those preference over others. Ensure that you will be able to afford airfare home if you leave CA.

  2. Be sure to check the four-year grad rate for Pell and first gen students. Read a bit about how happy first gen kids are at each institution. People may say you can always transfer if you are unhappy, but financial aid packages are typically not as generous for transfers as they are for incoming freshmen.

  3. Look for target and safety schools where your stats would put you in at least the top 25% of students. You can find that in the common data set. Look at cross-referencing that list with a list of the most well endowed universities, as they typically will have the best financial aid packages.

  4. Don’t neglect liberal arts colleges. There are many excellent, well endowed liberal arts schools with terrific resources. You might find it advantageous to be at a smaller school where you may be able to build deeper relationships with professors and alumni.


Did you ever specify whether you applied to Wharton or CAS at Penn?

Ahhhh, this makes much more sense. Thank you for the kind advice!

If you opt for a traditional liberal arts background another option to augment your finance credentials is Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck BRIDGE program.

It is relatively expensive (not sure about FA) but it allows you to gain specific subject matter expertise in an intense and short tome frame. If leveraged properly you can tap into a variety of different resources and internship.

I am aware of several kids with “eclectic” majors that completed BRIDGE and landed strong BB internships. Once again good luck.


I would add that there are many smaller schools that send kids regularly to Wall St. Babson comes to mind. So, looking beyond the ivy league type schools might do you good. Some state schools do quite well too – Darden and Kenan Flagler send a lot of kids to IB every year.

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If you would like to say, any news from Penn?

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