U.S. News & World Report has long ranked the best colleges in the nation. Many people have complained that those rankings are too simple and easily gamed and encourage administrations to prioritize their ranking over students' education. Students frequently apply to the report's top schools while ignoring colleges lower on the list that are just as good and might actually be a better fit. Most importantly in today's job market, the rankings don't account for any outputs -- that is, whether students get a good education and then good jobs.
Now, with the power of big data, we can begin to answer that question. LinkedIn analyzed the career paths of its members and has developed new rankings for the schools that are best at launching candidates into various career paths, including investment banking. Read on to find out more.
Determining the best colleges for investment bankers
LinkedIn is a Web-based professional network for job seekers, recruiters, and anyone else interested in business. To determine the best colleges for any field, LinkedIn first analyzed the employment patterns of its more than 300 million members to determine desirable companies for professionals in each field. Says LinkedIn: "The most desirable companies in a profession are those that are the best at attracting and retaining talent in that profession." For investment bankers, those include Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Citi, and numerous others.
LinkedIn considered "relevant graduates" for each profession to be those who had graduated in the past eight years and now work in that profession.
Finally, to determine the best colleges, LinkedIn ranked schools by the percentage of relevant graduates who have obtained desirable jobs. Applying that methodology to investment bankers leaves us with LinkedIn's best colleges for investment bankers as of 2014.
You may be surprised that the top of the list is Georgetown University, but there's a good reason for this. While Georgetown is best known for its public policy, political science, and international affairs programs, the school's business program has consistently received high marks. But the one thing that really sets Georgetown apart from other schools in investment banking is that the school has two entirely student-run businesses: a services business and, more importantly for future investment bankers, a bank.
The Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union, or GUASFCU, is a credit union with 7,000 members and $17 million in assets as of June 2014. Founded in 1983, the bank is entirely staffed and managed by Georgetown undergrads.
GUASFCU offers all the services one would expect from a modern bank, including loans, credit cards, and mobile banking. GUASFCU faces stiff competition, with a PNC bank on campus and TD Bank and Georgetown bank branches in the surrounding area. There's no better way to get a job in banking than by having experience in banking. While GUAFSCU is tough to get into, Georgetown students who get a job there have a leg up on the competition.
The other universities on the list are all outstanding schools for learning business and finance. You can get an incredible education anywhere so long as you are willing to devote the time and effort, but at these schools you are surrounded by like-minded learners and faculty who are on the cutting edge of their field.
The most important thing
The secret to a successful life is a growth mind-set, which means you must believe you can change life for the better. Just as there are different paths to success, no single school is perfect for you. As Warren Buffett (a Columbia University graduate) has shown, people who succeed in life are those who never stop learning.
Today, you don't even have to go to a college to learn a skill set. In investing, Buffett has said that students of investing really only need "two well-taught courses: How to Value a Business, and How to Think About Market Prices." For valuing businesses, the best class I've come across is taught by NYU Professor Aswath Damodaran, who puts all his classes and notes online. For lessons on how to think about the market, I'd suggest reading The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (specifically, chapter eight). Once you learn how to value businesses and how to think about the market, you truly have the two skills you need to find undervalued investments and grow rich. It really is as simple as that.