Wondering what undergraduate major best positions you for a successfuly career in finance? Evan Forster has the answer, and it might surprise you. 

This is a shout out to parents, high school students, and undergrads choosing their majors. Simply put, liberal arts majors can fare better in graduate business school admissions than finance majors do.

I deal with a great many undergrads and their parents who argue that getting an undergrad finance degree is the best way to serve them on their path to success, their track to getting into HBS, and ultimately having successful business careers. While certainly there are those who go from being undergrads at Wharton, Ross, McIntire, and a handful of other great undergraduate business programs to the most competitive jobs on Wall Street, another entire (and in some ways more competitive) group are economics, political science, and even English majors from selective schools like Amherst, Williams, and Colgate.

Not only do we see our own college candidates eventually get these jobs, we see the resumes of our legions of MBA candidates. There is a reason why these candidates get snapped up by the likes of Goldman Sachs and McKinsey and, eventually, Columbia Business School. The reason is this: strong critical thinking and leadership skills. A strong liberal arts background develops leaders—people who can think across the board and are not limited to their understanding of spreadsheets and quarterly projections.

This is not to say that having great accounting skills is unimportant. Any Wall Street-bound or pre-MBA college student should take calculus, microeconomics, statistics, and accounting. But these classes are not enough. Understanding the human condition through Shakespeare signifies that the candidate is operating on a higher level—the analytical ability such classes develop improve your problem-solving skills and add intellectual nimbleness. Critical thinking skills come from writing a paper on comparative literature or comparative religion, not from comparing the bottom lines of year-end reports.

In short, and with all due respect, people who have really strong liberal arts backgrounds hire those who have the ability to run a calculator. That's the difference, folks. If your goal is to ensure getting a job just outside of college, then yes, you probably want to major in accounting. And if you want to get a really great accounting job, go to Ross undergrad. If you want to get into graduate school at Ross and eventually transform GM, take some good quantitative coursework. But major in French.