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Bentley Wall Street 101: Is It a Worthwhile Experience?

If you're a high school student subject to the allure of Wall Street and the world of finance, this blog is for you. While many pre-college courses can be game-changers for your college applications and future career, by improving your knowledge of core concepts and helping you develop crucial skills, there are very few such programs that can train you on the very software and datasets used in the real world. One such is the Wall Street 101 program by Bentley University, which we will go over in detail today.



What is the Wall Street 101 Program?


Wall Street 101, set up and run by Bentley University, is a unique pre-college program designed to introduce high school students to the world of finance. Established with the aim of providing students with hands-on experience in global finance and investing, including stocks, bonds, currencies, and commodities, it stands out by integrating industry-standard software and databases like Bloomberg and FactSet with classes and simulations. The program consists of three courses, each lasting for a week, and available in three formats: residential, commuter, and online. This flexibility ensures that no matter where you are or what your schedule looks like, there's a version of the program that suits you.


Who is eligible?


To be able to apply for Wall Street 101’s courses, you must:


  • Be prepared to enter your Junior or Senior year of high school in the 2024-2025 school year.

  • Have completed at least two years of college preparatory coursework at the high school level.

  • Demonstrate English language proficiency via TOEFL / IELTS scores if you have not completed two years of high school in the US (applies to international students as well).

  • Be at least 16 years old if you’re enrolling for the Residential option.


How do You Apply?


Wall Street 101 aims to follow a holistic approach to applications. You will be asked to submit:


  • A copy of your unofficial transcript.

  • An optional essay - this is your chance to make your application shine beyond your grades, demonstrating your qualifications and interest and convincing Bentley why you should be given the chance to attend the program.

  • The name and email address of a recommender for Bentley to source a recommendation letter - while this step is optional, it may add further weight to your application.

  • Your SAT / ACT scores - again, optional but potentially beneficial.

  • Your parent or guardian’s tax documentation in case you’re applying for financial aid.

  • A $75 application fee.


Speaking of fees, the per-course fees for Wall Street 101 are as follows:


  • Online: $1,490

  • Commuter: $2,250 (includes meals and transportation to weekday activities)

  • Residential: $3,180 (includes meals, transportation to weekday activities, housing, and airport shuttle)


Applications are being accepted on a space-available basis till June 1, 2024, and decisions are released on a rolling basis.


Is Wall Street 101 Prestigious?


While Wall Street 101 boasts access to industry-standard databases and small cohorts for focused learning, with 45 students being accepted for each class. However, given that their course fees have dramatically increased over only a few years, it is safe to assume that the program is not as prestigious as fully-funded research opportunities or internships that provide a stipend.


How is the Program Structured?


Wall Street 101 is structured to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of finance, via three separate courses:


  1. Macroeconomics & Financial Markets - An overview course on the link between the economy and the global financial markets, meant for participants to learn how financial markets respond to current events. For someone new to the domain, this course is the perfect one to pick.

  2. Stock Market & Investment Research - If you want to learn what investment firms on Wall Street actually do, this is the course to pick. This is a more advanced course where you will learn about financial statement analysis, forecasting, risk analysis, and analyst recommendations using industry-standard valuation models. If you choose this course, make sure you’re familiar with the stock market.

  3. Investment Strategies - This is relatively the most advanced course available in the program, going in-depth into investment strategies, portfolio management, and fundamental valuation models.


Bentley offers a total of 6 sessions spread across the summer, each offering at least 2 of the 3 available courses in at least one of the 3 available formats (online, commuter, and residential). You can only register for one course per session. While the dates for the sessions have yet to be published, they’re structured as follows:


Wall Street 101 at Bentley University - Costs
Wall Street 101 at Bentley University - Costs


You can expect to dedicate long hours, from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, to course activities. The program also emphasizes teamwork, with assignments and simulations designed to hone analytical, leadership, and communication skills. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to interact with Wall Street professionals, gaining insights into various careers in the finance sector.


Pros and Cons You Should Consider


Pros:


  1. You have access to industry-standard tools Wall Street 101 introduces you to Bloomberg Terminals, FactSet data, and the Financial Trading System. These are the tools actual finance professionals on Wall Street use on a daily basis, and you will be working and learning on them for the duration of the program, providing you with a fantastic headstart for a career in finance.

  2. You can pick your depth of learning The program’s modular structure and diverse coverage of topics across the three courses allow you to choose the best possible option to maximize your understanding of trading, the financial markets, investment, or the intersection of economics and the stock market.

  3. The program offers flexible options for participants With online, commuter, and residential options available, no matter where you are in the world you will be able to attend the program, making it fairly accessible. The only exception is the Investment Strategies course, which is not available online.


Cons:


  1. The courses are quite short Each course lasts only a week, which means the amount of learning you can extract from it is naturally somewhat limited.

  2. The program isn’t highly prestigious If you’re looking for a pre-college program that’ll boost your profile on its own, this is probably not it. While there’s definitely great value and learning to be had, Wall Street 101 isn’t the most distinctive program to help your college application stand out.

  3. The program can be expensive While scholarships exist and the online and commuter options are cheaper, paying nearly $1500 per course for 7 days is no one’s definition of affordable, especially if you are unable to secure a scholarship.


Our review


All in all, Wall Street 101 is a solid opportunity for you if you’re looking to gain practical experience using actual industry-specific tools and models in financial markets and trading. While it is somewhat expensive and rather short, the modular structure allows you to focus on only learning (and paying for) what you really need, and you’re able to do it from the comfort of your own home should you so choose. Whether or not you decide to pursue a career in finance, the skills and knowledge you'll gain from this program will undoubtedly benefit you in the long run, although if you’re looking for a program to add a mark of prestige to your profile, this would not be our pick. But if you want to build your skills as a future trader or a financial analyst, then you won’t go wrong with picking this program.


Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re looking for the opportunity to do in-depth research on various topics in finance, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.



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