How much does your Alma Mater affect PE recruiting if you’re at a good IB?


I'm currently a senior at a very Non-Target school and just accepted my FT offer at BB for after I graduate. My Coverage Group is probably ~Top 3 in its respective Industry. I know that it places well into PE, but I also know that a lot of those people also went to top tier undergraduate schools. I'm just curious to hear some perspective on how much going to a Non-Target school affects PE recruiting if you're in a really good group and also (under the assumption) a good 1st year analyst. Thanks!

Comments (41)

Aug 27, 2020 - 8:11pm

I think it hurts a little bit, but isn't insurmountable.With how early recruiting is headhunters will definitely factor school prestige into the decision of who to give interviews to since you won't have a performance review before on-cycle, but if you're in a good group you still will get plenty of looks. For example, I have a buddy from a non-target who hustled his way into one of the top groups on the street (think GS TMT, MS M&A) and while he didn't get interviews at KKR or BX, he did get interviews at other MFs and a number of UMMs as well. He ultimately ended up signing with a MF, so I think that shows you can definitely land a top offer even with a non-target undergrad. Good luck! 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Aug 27, 2020 - 9:19pm

Best case scenario is being at MS M&A and being a Princeton grad with a great gpa etc. However, beyond that I think it is fairly even between someone who went to Yale and is at Barclays and someone from a non-target and at GS. Just from my experience, school and bank / group matter roughly the same, but bank and group is more of a hard cut off (ie. BBs and EBs are considered for the most part, non BBs and EBs not really at MFs / UMMs, for example) while school is a spectrum. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Aug 27, 2020 - 11:16pm

I think it depends. If you come from a non-target, a 3.8+ is absolutely required and likely a 3.9+. If you're from HYW, all known for severe grade inflation, you probably still need at least a 3.7+. For a place like Princeton or Columbia or Chicago, the threshold might be a bit lower than that but a 3.5 at minimum. This is for most of the MFs. Recruiters will probably care more about your bank / group and your school in general than your actual gpa, unless its really really good or really below what they expect

Aug 27, 2020 - 11:52pm

Unfortunately there are certain funds that do care about this stuff, which is just as ridiculous as it sounds. Nobody will come out and tell you this, and bank + group + ranking is going to be more important, but you can tell these sort of things when you browse the team pages of certain funds.

In my group, which was one of the stronger groups at a top BB from a recruiting perspective, I consistently saw the analysts who had attended "less prestigious" undergrad schools with lower quality exits, despite in some cases being far and away the strongest analysts in the class. Think schools like USC, UNC, UCLA, Michigan, excellent programs but not with the same reputation as a Harvard or Princeton. You can argue that correlation isn't causation, and the Harvard and Princeton guys probably have a better alumni base to network with at some funds making them a better "fit" or whatever, but just calling it as I've seen it.

Aug 28, 2020 - 8:40am


Let's say I'm from a UNC/UCLA/USC at a mid tier BB. How much does GPA matter for on cycle recruiting? Will there be a difference between 3.7 and 3.8 for example?

Doubtful, particularly with minute differences like this. GPA is going to be even less considered than school. The only time it might be considered is if it's a particularly large red flag and very low (3.0 or below sort of thing).Otherwise probably not much.
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Aug 28, 2020 - 12:10am

Agreed. Some firms (won't list them, but they tend to be the elite MM / UMM firms) tend to recruit almost exclusively from HYP etc. Iykyk sort of firms (consulting heavy firms tend to lean in this direction since MBB recruiting is very limited to a top few schools, especially in the NYC offices). Its not fair but its probably a function of better / loyal alum and a way to introduce an arbitrary cutoff like the prestige of your bank

Aug 28, 2020 - 12:01am

Lots of clueless answers here. Ultra non-target grad. Top 3 group at a top 3 bank. Got 1 interview through a recruiter (tiny fund in a place I didn't want to go) and blanked by all others. Got two interviews from MD's, converted one of them. Best reason to blank me was my school.


Been at ~$5b fund now for several years, everyone is skeptical of kids from 3rd/4th tier schools, let alone ultra non-targets... including myself.


uphill battle. Good luck

Aug 28, 2020 - 4:46pm

I recruited for VC / growth which is way less structured than PE on-cycle but my alma mater (top 10 LAC) never came up once, it was all about work experience and industry knowledge. 

I'd expect (but would want someone who's actually done on-cycle to confirm) that your school matters less the longer you've been on the job. If you have actual proof points around how good a candidate is from their analyst gig, you don't need to use proxies like school prestige 

Aug 29, 2020 - 5:36am

It definitely is a detriment since your worst-case competition is usually going to be an ivy kid who had better deal experience than you at whatever shop he/she was working at. But typically, and I found, if you can really craft a story to the headhunters as to why your school was what is was in case it comes up (it did for me), they can often times be pretty receptive and work around that when submitting resume stacks to funds. I'd say you're in a fine position, just make sure when you talk to ppl like Oxbridge, Henkel, CPI, Amity, SG, etc, have a soundbyte ready for when they ask you why you didn't attend HYP. Keep it short and simple. You're already ahead of the curve at a top coverage group so this should have de minimus effect if you can effectively communicate your story

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