A school is considered a target when a large number of Wall Street firms conduct on campus recruiting ("OCR"). A school's status as a target may vary slightly from industry to industry, firm to firm, and region to region. Ultimately, however, a school's status as a target depends on its relationships with employers.
The target schools are generally considered to consist of Ivy League schools, top liberal arts colleges (LACs), MIT, University of Michigan, Stanford, University of California - Berkeley, and the University of Chicago. Each of these schools has a large number of Wall Street firms recruiting on campus every year.
Semi-target schools are schools where there are a more limited number of Wall Street firms recruiting consistently, the firms recruit for back and middle office positions, or some combination of the two. Some examples of semi-target schools would include Emory, Notre Dame, and Vanderbilt.
A non-target would be a school where maybe firms (or not even one firm) recruits for back or middle office positions. Students coming from a non-target have to put in considerable time and effort to earn a first round interview with a firm. Some non-target schools include the University of Colorado, University of California - Riverside, and the University of Connecticut. Keep in mind that when you are networking from a non-target school, everyone that attended a non-target school is a potential networking opportunity!
Super Non-Target Schools
This isn't a term that's often used, but it is meant to imply a school that has no chance of getting you a job on Wall Street. These schools include community colleges, for-profit schools (ie- University of Phoenix), and technical schools.
Target Schools for Specific Companies
If you want to know what the target schools are for a certain company, go to its website and look under the careers section. The majority have a list of the campuses they visit for each separate group or business unit. Below are a select few discussions on the topic of target schools. Be sure to note the difference in opinions of each poster.