Undergrad B-School Environment Changing

N3WeQu17y's picture
Rank: Chimp | 10

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 notch BB recruiting 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 complex financial models is absolutely outstanding. Are you going to see Bentley as as top recruit for JP Morgan? 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.

Comments (21)

Jan 30, 2011

I agree there a a number of schools down south that might get overlooked. I go to a small school in Alabama, but my university is in the Newsweek top business schools in the nation every year. I guess all Im saying is that students like me from "non-target" schools with proper credintials would like a shot at Wall street

Aug 18, 2011


Jan 31, 2011

Great read. Couldn't agree more. It's a given that if you're at HYPSW, you're in a league of your own simply by name recognition. Lower-Ivy/target ug b-school, still there but not as far. Anything else, still in the running with.

People are so eager here to have dick measuring contests online and overlook the fact that at the end of the day it's about the candidate. If you're good enough and determined to network, getting yourself in the door will eventually pay off. It's as simple as that, regardless of where you go.

Jan 31, 2011

NewEquity -- loved your post, thanks for sharing (SB+1). However, I think you're largely incorrect in your belief that schools such as Bentley are gaining momentum and will grow their presence on Wall Street. I'll use Bentley as an example:

As you mentioned, Bentley currently sends a small handful of folks to Wall Street every year. The problem is, these folks are Bentley's absolute superstars and are not representative of the general student body. Sure, these individuals have Bloomberg experience and can do outstanding financial models, but they are the exception. The students that fall even within a cpl standard deviations of the norm are still not going to be acceptable to many of the top IB programs. In order for Bentley to be a rising star amongst institutions seeking to improve their presence on Wall Street, Bentley will need a fundamental improvement to the student body.

Another barrier (that i admit, you didn't address) is the availability of Wall Street opportunities from on-campus recruiting. I'd wager that the positions that these superstars got were obtained through networking rather than campus resources. To me, this indicates that Wall Street is hesitant to hire large quantities of Bentley kids -- they'd rather just pluck the superstars / ones with connections. Until you start seeing high quality opportunities opening up via OCR at Bentley, I think the school will continue to struggle to maintain a meaningful presence on Wall Street.

I, too, have encountered a few Bentley kids in my career (less than three?). I think if you ask them, they'll tell you that they really had to struggle to make it to Wall Street. I work in Boston and run into Bentley kids somewhat frequently -- I don't think many will tell you that their classes were challenging or that they had truly exceptional peers. The result is that the Bentley kids that do make it to Wall Street aren't huge promoters of their Alma Mater. They are less likely to "stick their neck out" for their Alma Mater because they know that their own peers were not particularly driven or intelligent. Personally, I am an alumnus of a pretty unknown college and when students try to network with me to land a job I am frequently disappointed by their resumes. While I will definitely give them the time of day because I feel it is my duty as an alumnus, I usually end up steering them away from a career on Wall Street.

To conclude -- I think you make some very good observations. Geography is a HUGE factor in recruiting for almost every university out there. However, I don't think the landscape is changing in terms of the presence of lesser known schools on Wall Street. Until the students at the ivies move on to the "next big thing," schools the likes of Bentley are still going to struggle to find placements on Wall Street.

Jan 31, 2011

You're right that Bentley (or a school like it) won't necessarily become a top target, but I think the point was that it is very possible to get to Wall Street from one of those schools if you just make the right moves. Personally I think a kid who has to network his ass off to get to the same place as an Ivy grad who has a lot more handed to him can be much more successful in the long run because they have the drive to succeed. Wall Street isn't rocket science, and honestly in a lot of areas a great work ethic and a chip on your shoulder can be much more valuable than your raw intelligence. Obviously this isn't always the case, but something to think about.

Jan 31, 2011

Relevant article about top schools that just came up in my twitter feed:

A link at the end discusses undergraduate prestige in "hard" and "soft" firms


Jan 31, 2011

While the point you make is valid, getting into a BB from a place like Bentley is exponentially harder than Harvard, and it likely to stay that way for a very, very long time.

Jan 31, 2011

Great post. I think the top students (socially AND academically) at non-targets are going to start making bigger gains on WS, not necessarily because of geography, but because of culture. I think at, for example, state schools the top students tend to be more laid back socially and people respond well to that. To be fair, I make that assertion from the small number of people I know at Ivys and other top schools.

Jan 31, 2011

Bentley kids usually have goofy looking hair, not sure if that's a Massachusetts type of thing. Bucknell is also an interesting school where kids tend to have goofy hair. Shaggy, he has goofy looking hair to, said "the people most likely to succeed are usually the ones you don't see." Perhaps in this case is it's the schools you don't really see who are spitting out well polished kids. Now it's just a matter of waiting to see if they will succeed.

Feb 1, 2011

Your analysis does not apply to the UK. Moreover, I believe that due to widespread downsizing in financial services, recruiting will be geared more and more towards target schools.

Feb 1, 2011

Bentley has recently enjoyed better placement in Boston, per OCR stats, over Boston College in boutique investment banks and private equity firms. The top x% of Bentley ug students spend more time networking than they spend on class related activities - they also work part time year during the school year at these local firms. So yes, the quality of the student body, on average, is not very impressive but the top x% gets it. Bentley will not become completely relevant until it invests in financial courses that lend themselves to analyst tracks (currently the focus is on corporate finance and financial accounting - judging from the course catalogue)

"You Want details? Fine. I drive a Ferrari, 355 Cabriolet, What's up? I have a ridiculous house in the South Fork. I have every toy you could possibly imagine. And best of all kids, I am liquid."

Feb 1, 2011

I agree partially with your analysis, but as a lot of people have pointed it out, Bentley kids that you have encountered are probably the one who networked to be there. I remember 2 years ago I had that discussion with someone in HR at a big bank [where I worked] in Boston, and essentially that's what she told me in order to get interviewed. It is definitely bias and some schools may not be listed, and evidently your ECs may move you a little bit higher.

In Boston, here is the tiers for UG:
1- Harvard, MIT, Wellesley, Dartmouth--> top 15 percentile of the class
2- Tufts, BC, Babson, Brandeis---> top 5 percentile of the class
3- Bentley, Umass Amherst, BU----> top 2 percentile of the class+ network or good SAT

For the other schools-like Northeastern, Bryant, you will need to network, be a superstar, and have a good SAT.

Feb 1, 2011

I came out of Northeastern 5 years ago. I can tell you we get better recruiting over Bentley, Babson, Brandeis, and BU. Not sure about BC or Tufts. Morgan Stanley (London), BNP Paribas, Soc Gen, Credit Suisse, and UBS all recruit for IBD.

Feb 1, 2011

No way does Northeastern have better recruiting than BC or Tufts. I don't think I would take a kid from NU over Babson or Bentley on average either to be honest. Obviously it depends on the individual, since some kids are just really motivated to succeed.

Johnnie, I would agree with you for the most part except I think Wellesley is definitely not on the level of Harvard or MIT, and Dartmouth doesn't seem to have the same amount of kids interested in Wall St as a school like BC, for example. It's obviously smaller in comparison, but you get my point.

Feb 2, 2011

well if you compare the student stats NEU is above Bentley and Babson in terms of SAT's and yes NEU has better recruiting than TUFTS.

Feb 2, 2011

I have not met a single kid from NU during recruiting or networking or anything, whereas at every superday except one Tufts had kids there and I'm living with two here abroad, one who just placed into GS and UBS for junior SA and the other on a waitlist.

Feb 2, 2011

so you go to TUFTS? great story by the way.

Feb 2, 2011

I'm from Bentley and will be summering at a BB, and have found this thread to be fairly accurate. While our OCR for non-BB jobs has gotten a lot stronger, I doubt we will ever be recruited at by these banks like other semi-targets. Getting interviews has been a huge struggle, but it's possible with huge amounts of networking.

That being said, the best thing about Bentley is that while we have a very small alumni network, it's slowly growing and almost everyone is unbelievably helpful if you have a strong resume. Our alumni network has been great towards me and I know that once I have a FT offer, I will go out of my way to also help strong students. We're only sending a few kids to BBs this summer and this is probably fair.

Feb 3, 2011

No, I don't, I just said I hadn't met a single kid from Northeastern during recruiting but I know a lot of Tufts kids doing well. Calm down?

Feb 3, 2011
Feb 3, 2011