8 Pros and Cons of doing the GARP FRM Program while in College

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes



Why would anyone want to take on the GARP FRM course while studying in college? If you have set your eyes on a career in the financial industry, you might as well start breathing life into your professional profile as soon as possible.

One of the ways to bolster your profile is taking on a professional course. Yes, most people pursue professional certifications after finishing their undergraduate studies.

But, for this certification program, undergraduates are still eligible to enroll. A bachelor’s degree is not a prerequisite.

We believe it can be a good idea to pursue both your undergraduate studies and the FRM qualification. However, it can also be an arduous path filled with challenges.

Read on to find out whether or not you should attempt this challenge while still in college.


The Pros of doing the Exam in School


1. You are in a great physical condition

The Financial Risk Manager program is an involved program that requires many hours of study. It can take hundreds of study hours to pass both level 1 and level 2.

Putting in all those hours of research requires one to be of good physical health. You have a higher chance of passing the exam while still in college because at that point in life you are young and energetic.

Generally, you tend to have a better balance in life during college. That is when you are most physically active. When you are physically fit, you can put in the long hours of study without breaking down.

The good physical health also boosts the mind, allowing you to relax and focus when studying. All that can help you perform better in that test room.


2. You are in peak mental condition

Your intellectual ability and curiosity are at a great level in college. You can take advantage of that to accomplish this task alongside your undergraduate degree.

College is a time when one can stretch their intellectual limits without succumbing to the pressure. That would probably explain why Silicon Valley is flooded with college-based entrepreneurs.

A study conducted by neuro-scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital and MIT revealed that brain performance and processing speed peaks at age 18 and flattens in the mid-30’s.

Therefore, in attempting the GARP exam after college one might have to take re-sits.

The program involves 9 major topical areas drawn from areas such as risk analysis and management, financial markets and products, investment management and quantitative analysis.

The study materials are voluminous, such that most people go into the exam without adequate preparation. However, a person in college won’t (or shouldn’t) be intimidated by that as they would already be used to seeing such demanding volumes.


3. No major family responsibilities

Cognitive scientists and mathematicians believe that age 26 is when most people start forming strong relationships that can lead to marriage.

That explains the estimated average marrying age these days being; age 27 for the women and age 29 for men, according to US Census. This data points to the fact that priorities completely shift towards settling down after graduating from college.

As you settle down and start a family, you will also be juggling work. The weight of the world will rest on your shoulders.

Pursuing a professional designation at such a point in life can be burdensome. For that reason, and because you can, it might work out well for you if you complete both your undergraduate studies and the risk manager course while in college.


4. You have the time to focus on studying

Your main activity in college is learning. Graduates juggling work and school often fall into the trap of waiting until the last minute before they start studying for their Financial Risk Manager tests.

The fact that the exams have a low pass rate is an indicator of just how ineffective that study technique often turns out to be. College students taking this course can make the time to prepare for the exam in advance, thereby making it easy for them to pass.

After college, you will probably go on and get a job and start a family. The only way to earn the achievement then would be to take classes in the evening after work and on weekends.

Part-time studying after college is not as effective as full time studying. There are many reasons why that often seems to go wrong.

Your brain loses its ability to retain concepts when you are fatigued. There is also the demand of family and friends that might hamper your concentration. Passing the course while you are ‘fresh’ in college is much easier because you are squarely directed towards studying.


5. You are already in “study mode”

In college, your primary purpose is to pass your examinations. That is the same required mental state needed when approaching this given task.

At that point in life, you would already have a study routine that gives you an excellent chance to excel in other areas. You can apply the same study routine to your gain that certification.

The college ‘study mode’ that your added course can benefit from includes:

  • Effective time management
  • Training your brain to remember relevant information
  • Self-confidence and determination to pass exams
  • Practicing exam questions
  • Having a good exam strategy


6. Studying for one may help you in another

Getting a college major and a designation at the same time can be an effective way of forcing you to properly utilizing your time.

Especially if you are doing a course in financial disciplines such as commerce, accounting or insurance, you will find the FRM option may be quite applicable in your undergrad studies.

This, as it sharpens your qualitative and quantitative skills. Studying for the program while in college exposes you to knowledge that might help you in your other studies.

Think of it as extra research or further studies that will make it easy to complete your bachelor’s degree.


7. You are in the best possible study environment

The entire study environment at college is designed to help students succeed in their tests. It is free of distractions and filled with like-minded individuals chasing after academic success.

You can take advantage of that and accomplish both your certification and undergraduate studies at the same time.


8. You are in the best possible resource environment

The other advantage of going for the accreditation while still in college is that you get to use all the resources at your disposal.

You can take advantage of the libraries both physical and online, the academic help centers or seek the wisdom of professors who have achieved the certification. After graduation, such perks are hard to come by.


The Cons of doing the Exam in School


1. Yet another thing to add to the long list

If you are thinking about getting over your risk manager tests while still in college, then brace yourself for extra academic pressure.

You will have to multitask between your major, minor and this new dimension. It will be tricky scheduling classes and study times for the two demands.

It is also an extra load that you will have to carry. The added pressure will be no excuse for failing to submit your term papers or failing to attend classes.

You may end up taking an additional semester to fulfill all requirements.


2. It will rob time away from your main studies

An additional task may simply rob you of precious time needed to perfect your undergrad studies. If the pressure becomes too much, it might lead to a concurrent failure in both your major and the FRM course.

In most cases however students tend to give much priority to one at the cost of another.

Getting a bachelor’s degree and passing this additional test at the same time often turns out to be a mental burden. Not many students can balance the two major courses.

It may lead to low aggregate points in your major, a factor that can lock you out from some master’s programs.


3. The additional studying may cause severe mental fatigue

Too much studying will be counter-productive for your efforts. In a state of mental fatigue, it is difficult to internalize concepts and remember facts.

Because of the demands of both these challenges, you can expect that mental fatigue may be a double dose for you. Because you have to juggle two tasks, you can be certain that your college days will start early and end late.

What leads to mental exhaustion is not only the informational overload from the two responsibilities but also your lack of sleep and decreased physical activity.

The reduced sleep reduces your brain’s functionality and processing speed. And decreased physical activity will lead to constant feelings of exhaustion.


4. Exceptional time management skills needed to get this done

In college, many young people have poor time management skills. Time management is a forte that often grows stronger with age.

As more responsibilities rest on your shoulders from directions such as work and family, you gradually become adept at planning your time well.

Most college students find the pressure of exams and projects too stressful. To successfully manage both, students will need to have exceptional time management skills or submit to living in the library!


5. Less time to have fun and rest

The purpose of college education is to produce individuals that are well rounded in life. Pursuing two different options can make you miss out on activities such as sports, socialization, and networking.

And ignoring these might haunt you later in life. Co-curricular interests are not any less important than your academic or professional certification.

You need time to build a personal relationship with other students and professors. Without such networks, you might find it hard to land an entry-level job after college.

Academic/professional certification is only part of the requirements you need for a colorful resume.

To build a desirable professional profile, college students need internships, volunteering and taking up leadership roles in the student council or campus clubs. You risk missing out on all these things when you pursue the added task at this point in time.


6. Grades in other areas may suffer

Contrary to popular belief, many human beings simply can’t multitask well. Some research by neuro-scientists shows that it is a mental delusion to think that you can multitask at anything.

In the time it takes us to re-orient to one task from another, efficiency often drops by 40%.

This data shows that in the case of pursuing both your college major and another major accreditation in tandem, your grades in one of these areas can suffer as much as 40%.

We cannot multitask; we switch tasks or switch priorities. Such a case often leads to a decline in creativity and output.


7. You still will not have any work experience

Even when you manage to pass your additional exams and accomplish your bachelor’s degree at the same time, you will not immediately become a certified professional.

GARP requires that after passing the exams, candidates demonstrate two years of practical experience to receive the certification. You will probably have to get an entry-level job in the field of finance to fulfill GARP’s work experience requirements.

That could be a big disappointment if your purpose for pursuing the risk manager title while in college was to help you land a job in the industry. That is why networking is important when in college.


8. Studying the books may lead to ignoring physical activities

There is an undeniable correlation between poor health/stress and exam failure. In the peak of our youth, we tend to have a strong immunity and indefatigable stamina. However, that is contingent on being physically active.

It will be more unlikely that you will find time to engage in sports or hit the gym regularly if you choose to do your Financial Risk Manager tests while in college.

All your time will go into studying for your major and preparing for the added exams. That can be counter-productive with boomerang effects.


In Summary

Yes, it is possible to pursue your undergrad studies and GARP FRM certification at the same time. But you will need to consider many factors before making the decision.

You will need a high level of determination and time management skills. 

We hope that this article has helped you to decide the best path for your life. Check out our other articles and download our free content to boost your chances of success!


Much love,

The QuestionBank Family