Southern Methodist Uni (SMU)
As a graduate of SMU, I want to shed light on my experience. There are many threads discussing the merits of SMU vs other semi-target schools but it seems like no one actually knows what they are talking about. First off, no SMU itself is not a target. SMU's Cox School of Business is not a target. SMU's Alternative Asset Management Program (alts) is a target.
Alts application process- Your alts prep begins at the beginning of your sophomore year. At this time, training sessions and mock interviews will commence for the selection progress that takes place at the end of sophomore year (March-May). The process is very similar to the internship interview at most banks. First you have to pass the general application screening (GPA > 3.7, helps to have relevant experience in finance however some non business school kids get in each year, participated in mock interviews/networked with current alts students). After that, you will be scheduled for a set of 3-4 interviews with current alts (they work up from behaviorals to techs). They will rank you and the top ~75 will move on to the final round. At this point you will get more or less a superday experience, I had 3hrs of back to back interviews with former alts (GS energy, MHT partners, JPM consumer/retail, etc...), the head of the program, and the head of the finance department. At the end of this, approx. 50 students are selected.
Random stats: ~1,800 undergrads per class/~50 in alts class (around 200 apply)... 2.77% admission rate with a median GPA ~3.93
Alts the class- Semester long class that meets once a week for 3 hours (2hrs reviewing last week project, 1 hr reviewing this weeks project/learning new concepts). Projects range from 40-50hrs a week and are done in groups of 2-3. The projects work their way up from simple proforma modeling to full scale M&A/IPO/LBO modeling. Their are also guest speakers once a week at night which is a great networking opportunity (from CEOs, IB MDs, hedgefund/PE guys). The class is pretty intense and each week (after 3-4 weeks) is similar to what you would experience during your final intern project at a bank. Final project lasts 2-3 weeks and is typically done with a live company. CEO met with us 3 times and discussed what they wanted to do and we came up with a couple options (Acquisition/IPO). You will also enter your internship knowing a ton more about excel/ppt and finance in general than target school kids (granted they pick it up hella quick lol).
Exit ops (lol)/Recruitment- There is 100% placement within the alts class, and I would say 80% get jobs in IB. Most go down to Houston Energy IB (GS, Gugg, Jef, Wells, Evercore, MS, JPM, Citi and thats just in my class... theres honestly an SMU grad at pretty much every bank down there). There are a few good ops in Dallas (houlihan restructing/industrials, JPM consumer/retail, RBC real estate, GS merchant banking all in my class). Then there were a select few (<10) that went to NYC (GS M&A, DB healthcare, CS gaming and lodging, MS M&A, those are the ones i know off the top of my head). A couple kids went directly into LMM PE shops but wouldn't recommend that route. From there a lot of people end up at Energy PE shops in dallas or houston (EnCap, Limerock, etc..) who knows what happens to those that venture up to NYC (most die from paying state taxes and living in a <60 sqft apartment for $8,000 a month).
Experience- As you can see, if you remove the Alts program from SMU as a whole it is undoubtedly a target. I had over a 4.0 GPA in highschool, was accepted into Ivy programs, and just didn't like the fit. Sure they are phenomenal schools but they aren't for everyone. I'm from the south and wanted a school with a football team (as shitty as they are), I wanted a greek life experience, and I never had interest in moving up north. SMU was the right fit for me and you'll find that many of the Alts students were fully capable of getting in wherever they wanted but for one reason or another chose SMU. SMU is also a great option for people that didn't overachieve in highschool but are ready to turn it around. All you have to do is work hard and study to get into alts (and be the slightest bit personable). Unfortunately if you don't get into alts going into IB from SMU is next to impossible. So... if you know that is what you want to do then get into alts.