Chapter 4: Coursework in College
It can be important to get an idea of what finance entails early on in your college career so that you know what you’re getting into and whether finance is really the degree you’d like to pursue. Spending too much time in the coursework of any degree before realizing it’s not a good fit with you can set you behind in your degree work and have you spending more time, money and effort in your school work than you might like.
With certain lower level or introductory coursework such as introduction to business or introduction to accounting, personal finance, economics, introduction to finance, or similar freshman or sophomore level classes, you might be able to get a feel for what future coursework will entail, the degree work difficulty level, and whether or not you’ll even enjoy the types of subject matter with which you will be dealing moving forward. You probably don’t want to get to your junior year, and the core of your finance degree coursework, only to realize that finance or even a business education in general is not right for you, as this could end up having you switching majors and adding to your educational timeframe and costs.
Falling for a Fancy Job Title
Job titles like stock broker, CPA, financial analyst, CFO, and the likes can sound catchy, and the associated pay scales are often rather attractive, but a degree in finance can entail some hard work. Classes like statistics and economics aren’t for everyone. And there can be plenty of accounting work. So if math and working with numbers and equations isn’t exactly your thing, then you might want to rethink the finance degree path. Even if you suffer through the classes and achieve your degree, it’s important to bear in mind that your work once out in the field can be a continuation of subject matter, and if you don’t like what you’re doing, even great pay or a fancy sounding job title or work environment may not make up for your lack of passion for the field.
Coursework and Subject Matter
Once you get into a meat of your finance degree work, your core finance classes could include some of the following:
- Corporate finance
- Capital management
- Investment banking
- International finance
- Financial management
- Securities and markets
- Investment or portfolio management
Beyond just an interest in business or the financial industry in general, you’ll likely find that there are other certain areas in which being proficient can be helpful in achieving your finance degree goals. Being skilled in mathematics is one area in particular in which having a strong background can make your degree work much more palatable.
According to an article in The Princeton Review,
“You’ll learn more than you may ever want to know about money, stocks and bonds, and how markets function. You’ll learn how to determine what fraction of a firm’s assets (or your own assets) to put into different kinds of investment vehicles in order to obtain the highest return for a justifiable level of risk. When you graduate, all those baffling indexes at the back of the Wall Street Journal will make sense to you.”
The article goes on to say,
“Upon graduation, your career can take many paths (naturally), but most Finance majors find jobs in the finance departments of firms; with banks, mutual funds, and other kinds of financial institutions; or in government or some kind of charitable organization. Some schools offer specialized areas of concentration within the Finance major as well – in insurance and real estate for example.”
Of course not every school is going to offer exactly the same finance curriculum. There can be a bit of variety in your core subject matter, and certain schools may even allow you to select a particular area upon which to focus your degree work in an effort to further hone your aptitude in particular coursework. You might even consider a minor in a related area such as real estate, marketing or management. But your minor could be in an unrelated area of interest such as criminal justice, sports management, political science or other subject matter. Having an educational background in a completely unrelated field could act as backup should you decide once you’re out in the working world that finance isn’t for you or your interests change.
It’s also important to bear in mind that there are finance roles in just about any and every industry. So deciding that you have an interest in government could have you pairing a finance degree with a political science minor — or vice versa. If you have an inkling that you might like to be a sports agent, then maybe the pairing of a finance degree and a sports management minor could work. Hedging your bets in such a way can provide additional flexibility once you’ve graduated and are exploring the vast realm of opportunities available in job options and career paths.