A finance degree could be your ticket to a lucrative career. The sooner you begin preparing, the better. By making purposeful choices about what classes to take in high school, devoting time to the most worthwhile extracurricular activities and learning more about the field of finance on your own time, you will be ready to succeed in college and beyond.

Choose Your Classes Wisely

Does your high school offer business classes? Many high schools offer at least a few limited options in this field, but not as many students take advantage of these valuable foundational courses as you might expect. Part of the reason is because high school students often focus most on the courses they must take to graduate – and even a crucial and versatile business course like personal finance is only a graduation requirement for about 16.4 percent of high schoolers in the United States, Business Insider reported. When choosing your high school classes, be on the lookout for classes in business education, business law, marketing and entrepreneurial skills. High school classes in economics and accounting are more widespread and would be valuable for an aspiring financial specialist.

Since finance is what The Washington Post calls a “math-focused” business major, it makes sense that you would want to take plenty of mathematics classes during high school. If possible, you should consider taking advanced placement (AP) courses in subjects such as and statistics and calculus. High school studies in physics, too, can prove valuable.

Of course, finance is more than just math. You should also choose college preparatory or AP classes in subjects such as psychology, economics and even English and literature. Understanding economics concepts, human behavior and effective communication can only help you succeed in your education and in your future career. You should make an effort to take computer courses, because you will use computer software to analyze financial data and make predictions about investment opportunities. While you want your classes to be challenging, you also want your workload to be reasonable so that you can do well in the courses you take. Do take college preparatory and advanced courses, but don’t spread yourself so thin that you are sabotaging your grades and missing out on the full learning experience.

Only five states – Missouri, Utah, Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama – require high school students to take some form of personal finance course to graduate.

How Do I Prepare for a Finance Degree While in High School?

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Grow Your Skills and Knowledge With Extracurricular Activities

While college admissions departments inevitably look at your high school transcript, factors like what classes you took in high school and your GPA are only part of your overall application. When you apply for admission to college as a prospective finance major, it’s not merely a matter of GPA and high school course lists, but also factors such as what you do outside of school.

Having a job, playing a sport, volunteering and taking part in school clubs can all make you a more well-rounded and appealing candidate for college admission. More importantly, these activities can help you grow as a person and develop new skills. Collaborating with teammates on the field equips you with skills that you can use when collaborating with fellow students in group projects and with colleagues in your future career. Working or volunteering can help develop your work ethic, problem-solving skills and interpersonal skills. As a finance major, you might be particularly interested in an activity such as an investment club, finance club, business club, Future Business Leaders of America and DECA.

To succeed in occupations such as financial analyst and personal financial advisor, you need excellent math and analytical skills, but you also need strong interpersonal, sales and communication skills, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Learn Independently

How did you discover that you were interested in finance in the first place? You probably didn’t study the career field extensively in school, but rather outside of the classroom. There’s a lot to learn about the field of finance, and you don’t necessarily need a formal teacher to learn it. One way to learn more about business and finance is by taking free online classes. If you’re the kind of student who learns best by doing, online stock market simulators that allow you to practice stock trading, often for free, could be a great option for you.

It’s never too early to start networking. Getting in touch with finance students and specialists working in the finance field can help you learn more about your career options and what to expect in college. Finding a mentor can be invaluable.

Additional Resources

How Do I Prepare for a Business Degree While in High School?

What Is the Difference Between a Business Degree and a Finance Degree?

What Is the Salary Potential for Someone With a Finance Degree?