Harvard Students: Conventional, Conformist, and Headed to Wall Street

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Despite Harvard's emphasis on a liberal arts education and last year's Occupy Harvard movement, a sizable number of students often hit up Wall Street after graduation. According to the Office of Career Services, 17 percent of the Class of 2011 entered the "financial services" sector, which is down from 28 percent in 2008 but is still the most popular post-graduate endeavor. Harvard alum Henry Wong thinks he knows why.In a recent post in Forbes, he contends that because Harvard is full of students who "excel at conforming to social expectations" and because the school "doesn't select for iconoclasts and the unconventional types," students join Wall Street because it is an obvious indicator of conventional success.

To an extent, many students seem to agree that Wong has a point. "Two-thirds of the freshman class takes Ec10. While I purposefully chose not to go into it, a lot of people do go into that kind of thing," said Don Y. Kim '16. Other students also agree that exploring economics and finance is a default at Harvard. "It's the standard—if you don't quite know what you want to do, you take Ec10. If I don't know what my passion is, I might as well make money," said Jacob M. Colbath-Hess '16. In addition to practical matters such as income after graduation, Nina M. Khosrowsalafi '13 notes that jobs in finance or consulting are relatively attainable for students. "I don't know if it's conformity or if it's that these opportunities are presented to us and brought to our doorsteps," she said. "This might not happen at other schools, but when I go on Crimson Careers, every other job is consulting or finance, so it's easy for students here to explore that area."

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