NESCAC Colleges In The Real World

Hi Everyone,

I’m new here. My son is interested in Finance. My question is about studying Economics at one of the NESCAC schools, since you can’t study Finance.

I’ve read that the NESCACs are semi-targets for some of the big Wall Street banks and I realize they will all be reaches.

I’ve done a lot of reading on here and I know that discussions can get off topic, so I want to be clear about what I’m asking. Here’s what it is:

If a kid studies Economics at a NESCAC school and doesn’t get a job at a financial firm, what are their job prospects at companies outside of the banking world? I know that financial firms value Economics degrees from those schools, but I don’t know how other companies value them.

I realize the schools have different reputations, but let’s take an extreme example. Let’s say you have a kid coming out of Amherst or Williams with a 3.3. I don’t think my son will get into either of those schools, but I’m using them as extreme examples. If a kid from Amherst with a 3.3 in Economics is applying to a company outside the banking world, how will they do?

Let’s agree that the kid coming out of Amherst will be very impressive on paper and in person, but if this kid is applying for a Finance job at Verizon Wireless or IBM, will her/his resume make its way to the top of the pile like it would at a financial firm?

Is it possible that the person doing the first run through the resumes has never heard of Amherst or Williams, never mind Colby or Hamilton? Would a kid with a Finance degree from Fordham/Villanova//Bentley/Babson/Tulane(pick your non-NESCAC Business school ) have a leg up on an Economics kid from Amherst or Williams, at least in the initial screening of the resumes?

I guess what I’m asking is whether it’s risky to study Economics at a NESCAC. Of course, the kids coming out of those schools will be well prepared for anything, but the kids coming out with Finance degrees from business schools will have a lot more practical knowledge.

For a kid who doesn’t have Wall Street connections, is the safer path a Finance degree at a well respected Business school or an Economics degree at a NESCAC?


The difference is that if there’s an alumni presentation at Amherst for career opportunities at Verizon, a few dozen people might show up. The same presentation at Villanova might attract hundreds of people. Business/Finance is typically the most popular major at many non-LACs. Bigger universities may place a lot more people, but as someone on another thread pointed out (I think they were actually discussing Communications majors- another popular program), no one ever talks about the 90% who go empty handed.

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Thanks for the response @circuitrider. It sounds like you’re saying that the NESCAC kid would have a decent chance, even at a company that has nothing to do with Finance? That’s good news.

I love those schools. They’re a big reach, but I think my son would get a great education at any of them.

NESCAC colleges are extremely well regarded. Those students get jobs at Big 4 accounting firms and management consulting companies and investment banks. They work alongside Harvard grads at other prestigious companies. They get six figure jobs right out of college. A student can study Econ and work at JP Morgan. That’s exactly what my D’s good friend from a NESCAC did. And it wasn’t Williams or Amherst. (I personally know students in each of these scenarios.)

They do all kinds of jobs, and many go to grad school. But it’s all about the student. It’s up to the kid to take advantage of the career center and the alumni network and build a good resume before they finish college. That’s what my daughter did. In some ways, what they study isn’t as important as what they do.

This might be of interest to you, as it broadly addresses your question. How Bates prepared my student for her future


DS was Colby '20. I was impressed by the career office and the work they did over the four years. Everything from school paid trips to NYC to meet with alums in various fields to financial support for unpaid summer internships. I was totally wowed by how many alums that he contacted were willing to talk to him and give him info and often support in the recruiting process as he was exploring opportunities and companies. I don’t see this as a reason - at all! - to avoid these schools if it’s the experience you want. And I recall that Colby had some non-major concentration is "managerial economics " for students who wanted to augment a degree with some job related skills.

With that said, if he really wants to study business (more practical, vocational) rather than economics (more academic, theoretical) and wants a larger school, that’s a different alternative for those 4 years. But I would not choose by first job placement.


OP: It seems like you are seeking a “yes” or “no” answer when “it depends” is the most accurate answer.

If your son is interested in finance–a major not offered by NESCAC schools–then why would he study economics at an LAC ?

Much depends upon your son’s actual options for college including COA & career objective.


Within some economics programs students can seek courses in finance, such as in accounting, corporate finance, financial economics, international finance and financial econometrics.

At which NESCAC schools are these courses offered ?

Thank you in advance for your reply.

If offered. Many LACs do not offer those courses.

OP, I just wanted to point out that a 3.3 econ student from even Williams or Amherst isn’t getting their resume to the top of the pile in most cases without significant networking and excellent internships. The name of the school doesn’t carry that much weight and the 3.3 would not be one of the most competitive resumes received.


Regarding career prospects in general, you may want to consider early career median annual earnings for graduates of the NESCAC LACs (from information in U.S. News):

  1. Hamilton: $59,900
  2. Williams: $58,800
  3. Amherst: $57,700
  4. Bowdoin: $56,900
  5. Trinity: $56,600
  6. Colby: $56,100
  7. Middlebury: $55,400
  8. Bates: $55,300
  9. Wesleyan: $54,700
  10. Connecticut College: $51,200

Most of these schools place fairly closely to each other by this measure. The figure for Connecticut College perhaps reflects a different mix of student interests. Trinity appears to over-perform in relation to its general rank.

You also may want to consider this analysis: Economics rankings: US Economics Departments at Liberal Arts Colleges | IDEAS/RePEc.


Colby has Financial Accounting, Corporate Finance I, Corporate Finance II and, Computational Finance and Portfolio Theory.

OP, also don’t assume that a student that gets a 3.3 at an NESCAC school would get at 3.8+ at the other schools in your post.



Colgate (while not a NESCAC, but sharing some similarities) offers several of these courses listed. I did a quick search of Wesleyan and, they too, have an assortment of finance and econometrics classes. Economics (ECON) < Wesleyan University


Agree with many of the points above. To me the bigger issue, is what is your plan if you end up not liking economics and don’t want to major in it? You would need a backup major…some students do go into the jobs mentioned (consulting, IB, other banking jobs, etc.) but did not major in econ. Majors like neuroscience, english, history, sometimes with a minor in econ can qualify you for these jobs too…again internships are key, starting after soph year.


It seems that other posters have since offered good examples in reply to this question.

Interesting responses,but not definitive. In my opinion, “it depends” is still the most appropriate response to OP’s questions. Need more specific information.

The responses cannot even answer whether or not a 3.3 GPA is adequate since most suggest that connections, wealth, and lax bro status are primary considerations.

P.S. Not doubting that NESCAC grads/alums are successful in life, just cannot answer OP’s questions without more specific information. Graduates of Amherst & Williams do very well, but are excluded from discussion in this thread as per OP’s instructions.

A specific situation such as whether it is better to attend NYU Stern for finance versus a non-Amherst / Williams NESCAC for IB jobs would be easier to address but still subject to “it depends”.

An interesting situation might involve one who has been accepted at Indiana University Kelley intending to major in finance and targeting Wall Street IB positions versus any non-Amherst /Williams NESCAC for economics and targeting Wall Street IB positions.

Loved reading this thread. A good bit of entertaining humor. Thank you for sharing.


I’d meant your particular question, regarding the availability of courses related to finance at NESCACs.

Where were those instructions? I can write about Wesleyan all day long (and have) but that wasn’t my understanding of what the OP wanted.

OP wrote that son won’t get into either Amherst or Williams. Discussing either would turn a broadly worded hypothetical situation into needless conjecture.

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