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3rd Year AFM Student’s Opinion on Business Programs

Hey all, I remember using this platform a lot when I was in Gr. 11 and 12, stressing over my average and which business school/program I wanted to go to. By grade 12, I had a 94% average, getting into every program I applied to except Queen’s Commerce. (Accepted into: AFM, Western Ivey, Schulich, Rotman, Laurier, etc.) Anyways, I’m currently in my third year of AFM. Just completed my second term working at the Big 4, and I’m gonna try something else. Now that I’m almost done third year, I have a lot of friends that went to other business schools and it’s interesting because I am seeing their professional careers starting to shape based on the school that they went to. From my PERSONAL anecdotes, this is what I’ve noticed from my friends that went to the following schools. Keep in mind that I am still in third year, so things may be different in a few years. Waterloo AFM: Every single one of my highschool friends or people I knew going into AFM from HS are currently working at the Big 4. Sample size of about 10 people, all at the Big 4 for various positions (audit, tax, consulting/advisory). Schulich School of Business: No one I know that went to Schulich from my highschool is working at any other job other than maybe marketing at a really small company making under $19 an hour, or working as a customer service rep at a bank. Interestingly enough, a lot of them are studying accounting and were deciding between AFM and Schulich. I was one of those kids, don’t regret my choice. However, I do know someone from my school that went a few years older than me at a Canadian investment bank. Western Ivey: Two extremes. They’re either just loafing around and came into Ivey thinking the name would pull them through, or they have offers at top US investment banks. I know around 5 with offers in either US investment banks or Canadian, the rest working pretty decent jobs like Sales and Trading ($60-70K) or other mid-office roles. Brock Accounting: Know a few kids that went here that didn’t make it to AFM. Working at either CRA or small tax companies. QComm: I don’t really know anyone from here. Rotman: I only know one person that went here that is currently a business analyst at a Canadian bank. The rest are still finding employment. Now this is from my PERSONAL sample of people I know (roughly 40-50 business students), so not a perfect representation. If you have any questions, please comment and I’ll try to respond. And no, I am not hyping up AFM. I think accounting is a trap and that’s why I’m leaving it before my 8 month co-op as I want to gain other experience outside of accouting before I graduate.  

2 Answers

  1. I am an Ivey graduate that went on to get his law degree from a school in Toronto. Prior to law school, I worked in investment banking and management consulting. I will give my perspective here as well.

    Waterloo AFM co-op – Very strong program with co-op. Accounting and Big 4 are overrated. Automation and saturation is changing this field. Almost everyone I know in accounting get their CPAs and get out. I know some students that have landed finance jobs. It is no Ivey or Queen’s commerce for high-finance, but is getting better. Most AFM students I know are at the Big 4.

    Schulich – If you are a hardworking student with good grades, you can do very well here. Most of these top students are in marketing (top companies), Big 4 accounting, and a small number land the high-finance jobs. OP is also right that a lot of people do not do jack all from Schulich because they private schooled their way in, there is no co-op/internship program, and admissions is easier than other schools. Most of these students will be the ones struggling and landing mediocre jobs. Schulich is losing a lot of steam because of the mediocrity they accept. However, there are lots of talented people who go there that will succeed. I went to law school with many of them.

    Brock Accounting co-op – Almost everyone I know out of this is also at a Big 4. Many at CRA and tax companies like OP said, though I am not sure what is wrong with working at the CRA/small tax companies. You can make a very good living and gain strong work experience this way too. It also probably pays just as much or more than the Big 4.

    Rotman – Pretty mediocre program overall. I strongly recommend not going to Rotman for undergrad. High dropout rates in first year and no strong recruitment for either finance or accounting. General business analyst jobs for the most part.


    Queen’s commerce/Ivey – I am lumping these together. Hands down the best business schools in Canada. All the high-finance, private equity, and investment banking recruiters go there. The MBB consulting firms McKinsey, BCG, and Bain almost strictly recruit from these schools as well. Many alumni go on to do their MBAs at Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, etc. Frankly, you just need to be an average student in these programs and you can do very well for yourself. The brand recognition carries beyond Canada’s borders. They are recognized by top MBA schools in a way that no other Canadian business program is.

    I would even say that Queen’s commerce is better than Ivey because you are studying business directly from first year, and it is a harder program to get into than Ivey AEO (which weeds out some students in first and second year).

    Other Tier 1 business programs include McGill Desautels, UBC PMF, and Waterloo math/computer science double degree with Laurier BBA co-op.

    Tier 2 programs generally include Schulich, Waterloo AFM, UBC Sauder, Rotman, Laurier BBA (single) which are generally on similar playing fields.

    I generally agree with OP’s assessment, but will add that most people will not care where you went to school anymore for marketing, accounting, HR, etc. Ryerson’s accounting and finance program also sends many students to the Big 4. I know students from Guelph, UOIT, etc. that work at the Big 4. The school name mainly matters for finance, private equity, asset management, and investment banking. For these fields, it should be Ivey and Queen’s commerce > everything else. McGill Desautels and the double degree with Waterloo and Laurier are also fantastic options.

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  2. My last point is that I worked with alumni from all these schools, and went to law school with alumni from these school. A smart, capable individual can succeed anywhere. Where you go for business absolutely matters, but these schools that we are comparing above are on relatively even playing fields. The notable exception is Queen’s commerce and Ivey for fields like IB, PE, high-finance, and management consulting where they have a distinct advantage.

    Otherwise, you can succeed and have great careers out of Waterloo AFM, Schulich, Brock Accounting, Laurier BBA co-op, UBC Sauder, Rotman, etc. in a relatively even manner. Not one of these schools is better than the other if we put the exact same individual in both programs. That person who landed a Big 4 from Waterloo AFM could certainly have done so from any of these other schools as well. They are reputable programs and have good reps. It’s not Ryerson BCom after all.

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