For a group of so called, "wall street enthusiasts", I find it interesting that there is such a high level of naivety on this site regarding undergraduate business schools. I can't even count the number of posts that I have read relating to which school is best on "the list" etc. I figured I would provide some of my own insight to help provide as "unbiased" of an opinion as possible.
First of all, after working on wall street for a number of years, I can tell you that the analyst recruiting classes vary fairly significantly from year to year. Do you have a better chance of getting a position on "the street" if your degree is from Harvard opposed to, say, Boston University, yes for sure. However, anyone who says that students going to a university such as BU have no chance of making it into investment banking or buy side analytics are out of their minds. What's the key to landing a top tier job? 1) GPA and 2) Extracurriculars (including internships). Am I saying that universities are irrelevant? Not at all. What I am saying is that the number of recognizable universities that are providing top tier educations and receiving increased attention from wall street has increased ten fold in the past 3-5 years.
One of the factors with regard to the correlation between undergraduate universities and analyst recruiting classes that often flies below the radar relates to the location of the colleges/universities themselves. Regardless of how far NYU falls on BusinessWeeks undergraduate list (no way it should be listed outside of top 5), it is still the dominating force when it comes to top notchrecruiting in NYC. Why? Aside from the education, is it's proximity to wall street. Is it fair to compare, say, Harvard's analyst recruiting class to a school of "relative" equal caliber such as Stanford? No absolutely not. There's 3000 miles between Stanford and wall street, compared to the 350 or so miles between Boston and the street. However, on paper, this distance is not factored into any sort of equation relating to the analyst classes of the prominent investment banks. You need to pick a school that provides the social and academic aspects of life that you are looking for; making sure that you graduate at the top of your class and involve yourself in as many outside functions as possible. Network the shit out of everything.
Now you may ask, what are some examples of up and coming schools that are really making a name for themselves, even though they might not be on the i-banks top list of recruits? Two that I am most familiar with are Boston College and Bentley University (primarily because I am from the Boston area). I am familiar with Bentley, in particular, because I have worked with a couple of recent grads who have superior knowledge to almost every other first year analyst hat I have come into contact with. Granted, the kids who I am referencing at Bentley graduated at the top of their class. Their experience with Bloomberg and their overall ability to create complexoutstanding. Are you going to see Bentley as as top ? Most likely not, maybe a few years down the road, maybe not. Regardless, I can tell you that in the Boston area, boutique private equity firms, hedge funds, and banks such as State Street and FIdelity have grown very fond of Bentley grads in the recent years. This is just one example of a school that is somewhat under the radar (even though I think it was near top 20 on BusinessWeeks list this year). Point being, there are universities in other areas of the country that are having the same type of impact on the cities they are located in. It is important to weigh your options at all times. Don't be fooled by a cover.
Now with all that being said, I am from the Boston area and attended an Ivy League in the early 2ks, prior to becoming an old man, and currently work for a long/short fund. Based on my experiences and conversations with others, I can say that the landscape is changing dramatically when it comes to private equity, hedge fund and ib'ing recruiting. I was bored so I figured I would blog about something.