Why you Don’t Need an Ivy League Degree

An Ivy League Degree isn’t necessary to be a fund manager

This is the standard, isn’t it?

If you want to get into private equity, your path MUST go through the halls of Harvard.

A degree from an Ivy League school is a requirement for fund managers. It’s nonnegotiable.

That’s all I heard about during my first year of college at Brigham Young University.

In fact, I distinctly remember a conversation that I had with my professor where he told me that the only shot I had at getting into PE was going to require a perfect report card from my school.

That would be followed by 100 hour work weeks for a firm on Wall Street.

And then get accepted back into school, an Ivy League this time.

And thennnn go back to Wall Street and hopefully have a decent shot at being a fund manager in some capacity.

You know what I said to that?

“Screw it!”

I knew that there had to be another way, so I set out to find it.


Any time you’re trying to achieve something a fundamental belief that you can achieve your goal is huge.

Therefore, I knew that I’d need some sort of successful example of a fund manager sans an Ivy League degree to know I had chance.

Turn out the answer was by my side the whole time.

And he is the opposite of a Harvard graduate!

He grew up in ghetto North Las Vegas, and then graduated from the University of Utah.

I was able to look at him and observe the strategies he had implemented to get past the hurdle of the “prestigious degree” that seems omnipresent in private equity.

Here’s what I detected.


It’s not what you know, it’s who.

My dad was very meticulous in selecting his partners. (Non of which were Ivy Leaguers for the record, though that isn’t a bad idea)

These were very well qualified individuals in their respective fields, in this case real estate and capital raising, and the helped form out a rather well rounded team.

For anyone that is looking at starting a fund, which I’m assuming is everyone reading this, you’ve got to find the right partners.

This is crucial.

Having the right connections in the private equity space can make or break your fund, and is honestly one of the biggest keys in overcoming the degree differentiation.


The other momentous factor for overcoming scholastic obstacles is the deal.

If you can locate a lucrative enough deal, you’re in.

Something that is not to be underemphasized is the importance of the presentation of the deal.

Being able to communicate effectively and concisely what an investor will receive from working with you is essential.

The more that a potential investor understands about the fund’s core thesis and the details of the deal, the better the relationship will be.

Especially long term.

Wrapping it up

Look, the biggest thing is working hard.

There is no substitute for effort and determination. Especially when you’re smart about it.

As you seek to identify the best suited people possible for a potential partnership, and learn how to select the best deals, you’ll see your level of competence rise.

An Ivy League degree is never a bad thing to have under belt, it just isn’t necessary.

Follow these steps and build yourself up, a fund isn’t nearly as out of reach as you may have once thought.

Take Care,

Bridger Pennington

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DISCLAIMER: This content is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not to be taken as tax, financial, or legal advice. You should always consult a legal professional before taking action. Furthermore, this is not a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The content is solely just the opinion of the authors.

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