I passed, now what?

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After many long hours spent studying, I finally passed FM in February! I am now at a crossroads that most actuarial students can probably relate to. What next? Should I start studying right away for the next exam? Wait to take another one? Which should I take next?

I hit a slight lull in the semester shortly after sitting for FM, so my days are decidedly more relaxing and less stressful. It’s hard to imagine signing up for another exam and volunteering myself for what feels like a million hours of studying. At the same time, I don’t want to get too far off track. My goal always was to be working towards my fourth exam upon graduation. I’m now just over a month removed from FM, and the passing time is a reminder of how much potential study time I’m missing out on.

The other big question is which exam I will take next. I am enrolled in classes preparing me for both MFE and MLC. Unfortunately the MLC class, which is only a semester long, barely even begins to cover the massive amount of information covered by the exam. My gut tells me to go ahead and take MFE shortly after finishing that class while the information is still fresh in my head. If that’s the case though, I would really like to take it sooner rather than later so I can begin studying for MLC while still in college. With graduation quickly approaching in just over a year, that feels like a pretty short time frame for such demanding exams.

All of these decisions obviously require a lot of soul-searching. When trying to decide what is best for myself, it seems only inevitable that questions about pursuing the actuarial profession come up. I think I know where I want to be in five or ten years. But is receiving a designation as an Associate a necessary stepping-stone on my journey? These thoughts may be fleeting at times, but I can’t help but wonder what the answer is. Is it worth all of the time and money? Not to mention if you are reading this, you probably know what a physical and mental tax the exams can take.

On the flip side, there is no greater feeling than the adrenaline rush when you learn you just passed an actuarial exam. I want to finish what I started. I want to have a few letters after my name that say, “Look what I did! Look at what a little sacrifice and hard-work can do for you. I know actuarial material like the back of my hand and am proud of it.” I know that if or when I do become an Associate, I will be so proud. So proud that I stuck to it, gave it everything I had, and succeeded.

I am curious for input from others. Passing the actuarial exams is a very personal process, but I welcome your comments on what you did, what you wish you had done, or any other advice you might have!