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Should You Consider the CFA Exam While in College?

edited December 2015 in 300 Hours

imageShould You Consider the CFA Exam While in College?

By Alex Thacker Thinking about a taking Level 1 as a soon to be graduating Senior? Are you looking to get a leg up on your fellow finance graduates, trying to nullify a less than impressive GPA or...

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  • camel717camel717 Bloomington, INPosts: 2 Associate
    As a recently graduated college student (2 days ago) I did not start the CFA yet, and have planned on doing so after New Years. I wanted to enjoy my final weeks at college and the stresses of finals were enough for me. Also, this gives you an opportunity to have a nice holiday break not having to worry about putting in hours when friends and family are home. Everyone will go back to work/school after the New Year and it will be much easier to concentrate knowing you're not the only one on the work grind. I'll be starting in early January while I search for jobs (if my upcoming interviews don't yield results) and going until early to mid-May. Congratulations to all recent grads, and good luck in the next half year!
  • ibalibal Atlanta Posts: 5 Sr Associate
    Starting the CFA program in college can be a tremendous career step that can give you an edge.

    My Story: I came from a non-target undergrad, majoring in account and finance. I passed level 1 in December prior to graduation. Not only did the CFA program elevate my knowledge base above all peers, but it opened doors that would have otherwise been unavailable to me. Professors went out of their way to reach out to industry contacts, companies that would have been uninterested actually considered me to be a real candidate.

    The CFA is unlike any college exam, but the difference is that while in college the luxury of time, something nearly nonexistent after entering the workforce. This also can build a long-term advantage against any peers, because while most may wait until their first or second year before taking level 1, you will be on level 2 or level 3. This small lead early in a career can have a rippling effect.

    Currently, I’ve been with my consulting firm for about 1.5 years and I’ve been able to grow and develop much more quickly than any analyst. So my suggestion is that networking and targeting jobs are important, but the CFA curriculum molds you into a much better candidate.
  • I would definitely recommend to start early while you've got lots of energy. I wanted to sign up as soon as I started my grad job, but my recruiter convinced me NOT to - quoting "You'll have enough on your plate already"

    Completely regret not starting sooner.
  • sridharcwsridharcw TorontoPosts: 18 Associate
    I believe starting early gives one the first mover advantage. However, one has to be seriously committed to the CFA course and have a strong inclination towards finance careers. The good part about doing CFA while in college would be the idea of using extra time for preparations. Secondly assuming one is doing Finance major you can benefit from the overlap between college curriculum (assuming US-based course) and CFA one. 
    The ideal option is to take up level 1 and have a target to complete it before graduation. This will add lot of value and credential on your resume when the graduation and job hunting season starts. If you want to keep time for networking, job hunting, etc, all you need to do is schedule the course/exam in a way that it doesn't interfere with your engagements. From personal experience I can tell you that after getting a job and having additional responsibilities you may find it difficult to start off the course from scratch. 
  • Kirby18Kirby18 New York / ProvidencePosts: 6 Associate
    I took the exam my senior year and did not pass. Pretty much agree with everything said above. Its great to start early but if you participate in any extracurriculars or take a rigorous course work- save the money. I would check to see if the test is offered at a discount (mine was, reinforcing my decision to take the exam). Additionally, a lot of the material was fresh as I was in the middle of multiple finance classes covering topics on the exam.
  • LSTOKLSTOK LondonPosts: 4 Associate
    It makes sense because you anyhow study this stuff on the college (if you major finance) and you have more free time to study while you are still on the college.
  • All great comments. Undoubtedly the CFA will increase your career potential, is often expected for more senior positions and certainly increases your knowledge about investments. I too came from a non-target and am surprised to see "free time" mentioned so much during you guys college years. My senior year I was working 20-25 hours a week, taking a normal course-load and also studying for the CFA. I had very, very little time to network or apply for jobs etc. which is why I feel, at the beginning, waiting a year or two will not hurt you. 250 hours spent networking, job hunting etc. will still yield IMO better results than being a candidate with only a chance of passing and spending just 25 hours on networking. Also, I know many employers who allow you to study at work or during down time. I also feel your schedule after college is more predictable and therefore easier to plan time to study. In any event, do what's best for you, as we all come from unique situations. Best!
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