Why don't banks target many state schools?

Really pisses me off that banks will take a 2.0 kid from Harvard but all of us at public schools work our ass off for a 4.0 and still don't get an offer.

Talent is dispersed throughout many schools and isn't just at ivies. Top 5% of Cornell class isn't going to be much different than top 5% from Penn State.

You can get a great business education at some state schools like PSU, OSU, Indiana, Wisconsin, Florida etc. The banks would do a lot of good for themselves if they brought in analysts who know FINANCE.

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Comments (64)

Aug 13, 2020 - 5:34pm

The world is not fair, and the best thing to do is worry about the things you have control over instead of complaining. There are fairly obvious reasons why the banks do what they do, and if you cannot understand why these decisions are logical from their perspective then you don't deserve an offer anyway.

Aug 13, 2020 - 5:47pm

"No one ever got fired for buying IBM" An old buy side saying and works for hiring too.

Hiring from an Ivy is just viewed as "safer" than hiring from a public school. That's never going to change.

It's definitely not fair but "it is what it is." The only caveat is the smart public school kids figure out a way to make it and that motivation will get them further in their careers than a lazy 2.0 kid from H.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 13, 2020 - 7:33pm

Simmer down. It's safer in the sense that the kids are smarter on average. Banking isn't hard to learn, and they're confident they can teach it to the kids at top schools. Sure, I can take the kid who's been studying technicals in class for two years, or I could take the government major from Princeton with the 1600 SAT who's also super interesting and well connected.

  • Prospect in Other
Aug 13, 2020 - 7:38pm

I disagree. The finance required for the analyst position isn't the hardest to learn. That's why even the liberal arts kids can show up to interviews with great knowledge of technicals. So they can't differentiate on the students knowledge of finance and business. What should they differentiate on the basis of? Probably things like critical thinking and sheer intelligence. And that's where the Ivy kids are going to be far superior to a random finance hardo from a random state school. Just makes more sense to go with the Ivy.

A random finance hardo from a random state school

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Most Helpful
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 13, 2020 - 5:54pm

Your general idea has some merit, but the idea that the top 5% of Cornell is about the same as Penn State is ridiculous. The top 5% of ivies are the most standout kids.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Aug 13, 2020 - 5:56pm

This has been answered so many times before, and like the Liam Gallagher said, if you can't see why banks do what they do then you don't deserve an offer/are quite naive as to how things work.

it's like saying why did this person in the top 25% of X prep school get into an ivy and the valedictorian at some random public school didn't...at the end of the day colleges are businesses and want to bring in the people they feel will eventually donate/make them money (Preston from Deerfield with rich connections)...the same exact thing applies to ACTUAL businesses..

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Aug 13, 2020 - 5:58pm

I think you meant bottom 5% at Cornell might not be much different then top 5% at Penn State.

Aug 13, 2020 - 7:26pm

No. Top 5% is going to be pretty much the same across the board for state flagships and ivies. Top 5% at Penn State is significantly smarter than bottom 5 at Cornell.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Aug 17, 2020 - 8:28pm


what's Cornell's acceptance rate and what is penn state's? get the hell out of here with that reasoning.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 13, 2020 - 6:12pm

Can't tell if you're joking. UVA is probably second only to Umich for publics (And Ivey if you count Canada)

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Aug 13, 2020 - 6:17pm

I don't think most people even know what Ivey is.

But yeah key word is "public." Saw someone post this awhile back and I don't remember his exact phrasing but it was basically like how good could UVA be when there's about 17 threads of UVA vs. Kelley. Having seen many of those threads, they sound like peer schools to me.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 13, 2020 - 6:34pm

I've seen the threads as well, but I wouldn't call them accurate. I've also seen Michigan vs Yale, but that doesn't make them equals. UVA places like 80 kids a year, Kelley places almost exclusively from the IBW. I think UVA, UMich, and Berkeley are good schools in general. Not everyone can go to Harvard or Wharton, as you presumably did.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 13, 2020 - 6:37pm

Kelley places like 80 kids per year too but yeah UVA has the edge once you take into account the amount of competition. Anyway, there's no point arguing about this when there's already too many threads on this.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Aug 13, 2020 - 6:37pm

But to be fair, there was only 1 Yale Vs. Michigan thread and the overwhelming consensus was Yale (as expected). That kid was just weird or subtlety flexing he got into Yale.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Aug 13, 2020 - 6:44pm

It's also irrelevant if Kelly places kids into firms solely because the IBW. The result is that Kelly placed those kids. Also wouldn't say ~80 kids out of a school of 17,000 is anything special. Even if you restrict it to just mcyntire, there's over 700 kids in that school.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 13, 2020 - 6:48pm

Fair point about the IBW. Although I'd be interested to see the total placement of a school like cornell or duke as well, to see if it's also around 100 if or it's much much higher. There really aren't that many seats in general. And yes, that would still be better on a per student basis since those schools have lower enrollment than IU or UVA, but I would also imagine IU has less interest in IB than cornell as well, and lower quality candidates. Point being, I'm not sure that equally qualified candidates (GPA, internships, technicals, test scores, interview abilities) at UVA and cornell have materially different chances of placing.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Aug 13, 2020 - 6:56pm

Interested in those numbers as well. I can't speak to Duke or Cornell because I didn't attend either school, but I'd assume they are both very high, especially Cornell. But I would say, which has been mentioned earlier on this thread too, which is that ivies provide a certain level of safety, even the mid-tier candidates at Brown, Cornell, Columbia are more often than not better qualified than applicants with similar GPAs and clubs at public schools. Even if this isn't true for all cases, it's perceived that way in the eyes of most employers.

TLDR: most view bottom 5% at Ivy > top 5% public school.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 13, 2020 - 7:03pm

I agree that employers have that bias, but I would argue to a lesser extent. At this point, I have no data, so these are arbitrary guesses, but I'd venture to say that think more along the lines of 40th percentile at Cornell = 95th percentile at Penn State. You still need a 3.5 (if you're a white male, maybe higher) to get an offer out of Cornell. And it would vary by school, so like I'd say for Harvard, sure, they'd think that 10th percentile at Harvard = 95th percentile at Penn State. Maybe 80th percentile UVA = 95th percentile Penn State. You get the idea. My point is that while I think 5th percentile at any Ivy = 95th percentile at Penn State is an exaggeration, I definitely agree with the general concept.

At this point, I fully admit to this being an exercise in intellectual masturbation.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Aug 13, 2020 - 9:30pm

Did some quick googling and found Cornell's (Dyson School only) employment report for 2019. 18% go into consulting and 59% going into finance (IB, S&T, AM, ER, etc.). 34% of that is IB. Dyson has 684 undergrads in it, so 684/4 = 171. 171 x .59 = 100. So Dyson alone places about 100 kids a year. Didn't go to cornell but from what I've read and seen, all their colleges do OCR. Probably don't place as well as Dyson but still place good.

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 13, 2020 - 7:32pm

Why would I take someone who slacked off in high school or just simply is not smart? Why would I trot out a random state school kid to my client when I could bring out an Ivy Leaguer instead? Simply put, an Ivy League kid is safer and I'd much rather have an average Ivy Leaguer over the top state schooler.

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 13, 2020 - 7:47pm

That school name is the first indicator I have of how hard-working, smart, connected you are. I'd rather have an absolute dumbass with a dad of a multi-billion business than some random Penn State kid that brings nothing to the table except a high GPA.

  • Prospect in Other
Aug 13, 2020 - 7:50pm

Absolutely they will. What else should they judge on the basis of? They're looking for kids that are easy to teach banking to. So they're looking for smart kids. Why pour more effort into finding the diamond in the rough at a state school and gambling on them when you could just pick up an Ivy leaguer who has already proven to be smart and talented and capable? Just think about it with perspective. I'm a state school kid btw.

Jun 12, 2021 - 5:16am

I get that's it's safer but this is the dumbest most elitist comment i've ever heard. The top kids at top state school didn't "slack off" in high school and are definitely not unintelligent. A lot of them are there because daddy wasn't a legacy at an ivy or they couldn't afford it. A lot of state schools are still hard to get info and the top 5% kids at those schools are nowhere near lazy or unintelligent. Hope your trust fund works out pussy 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Aug 13, 2020 - 7:39pm

I'm telling you. This economy sucks. There are not enough companies ready to hire at solid pay. We've been lied to. You wouldn't have so much social unrest if the economy was firing on all cylinders the way it's supposed to and economic benefits are being efficiently distributed throughout the economy. Everyone's got someone to blame. This country is a total mess.

  • Associate 3 in Other
Aug 13, 2020 - 8:09pm

I didn't go to Harvard or Penn State, but did go to an Ivy and had plenty of friends from high school/grade school who went to state schools ranked around the same as Penn State. The 2.0 kid from Harvard is getting precisely 0 looks from IB unless they're one of the few incredibly well-connected kids in the class (in which case, they're getting looks regardless of where they go to school). There are also probably fewer than 10 kids/class from Harvard or similar schools graduating with ~2.0 GPA--even the dumbest football, lacrosse, and hockey players from my school could carry a 2.5 with little trouble (hard to get below a C in almost any class, and they always took 1-2 easy classes/term that would end up as a B or B+).

The student with 3.4 at Harvard will have an easier time getting IB looks than the kid with 3.5-3.6 from PSU. That's really what most people here are complaining about. Is that fair? Not totally. But I can almost guarantee you in >90% of cases, the Harvard kid is smarter than the PSU kid. I had friends at my alma mater who had a 3.3./3.4, and with almost no exceptions they were smarter than pretty much anyone from my high school who went to the state's honor program.

The bigger concern is the 3.9 finance whiz from PSU who deserves as many or more looks than the 3.3 history major from HYP. In many cases, they get those looks but not without tremendous hustle, awareness (both self-awareness and awareness of IB recruiting details), and luck. But top talent will shine through eventually in most cases, just taking a little longer from certain schools. Some of the smartest people I've ever worked with went to schools most people on here would never aspire to attend, but they found success eventually after many years.

Aug 13, 2020 - 10:08pm

I think the "who's smarter" debate is a little overblown. I'm willing to bet it has more to do with tradition than the idea that there are no smart kids at Penn State. "Tradition" was such a hardon back in the day with all those waspy people in the North East, it's really not surprising that it's been a long standing practice to only focus on kids from select schools all because they share the same collegiate conference.

I'm not really sure if it makes sense or not. I think it makes more sense to ask, why aren't there more better paying places to work, so the industry isn't clogged up? I mean, money is such an easy answer to how to attract more talent. The banks, with training programs and pay, generally do a much better job of attracting talent, despite the constant inundation of shit they get from pretty much every corner.

Aug 14, 2020 - 10:22am

It's also not fair that you have the freedom to complain about such trivial matters like this while there are people who were unfortunate to to be born in an area of the world where they are relegated to being slaves for their entire lives wishing only for a fraction of the freedom you have.

So relax and learn to realize how lucky you are as your life situation is likely still better than 99% of people that have ever lived.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Aug 16, 2020 - 2:05am

When has any kid from Harvard with a 2.0 gotten an offer from a bank? Sure, the standard will be lower with respect to GPA requirement but most of the Harvard kids I know that landed offers from my bank had 3.7+ GPAs in quantitative subjects (e.g., economics, statistics, computer science).

I know this site usually rags a bit on Cornell (although this post seemed to build some unity) but the top 5% of the school is absolutely brilliant. The work ethic of some of the top engineering, architecture, and pre-med students is insane.

For some reason, there are a good number of people on this website that think kids who go to target schools are lazy bums that have their jobs handed to them on a silver platter. While there are definitely more than a handful of kids who leverage their connections, you'd be surprised by how hard the majority of kids at target schools grind (particularly the Asian / Indian non-legacy kids).

There are a bunch of top tier private schools with undergraduate business programs that will offer applicant pools, that are on average, significantly stronger than the ones at the schools that you listed (e.g., Penn, Cornell, NYU, Notre Dame, Georgetown, WashU, USC, Emory, Carnegie Mellon, BC, etc.) as well as top tier public schools (e.g., Michigan, Berkeley, UVA, UT-Austin, UNC). And then of course, there are all of the super talented kids who busted their asses off to get into schools like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and the like. Yes, there will always be kids with connections who land offers but a majority of the candidates from these schools will be pretty smart people who will be able to pick up the job pretty quickly, even if they aren't coming from finance backgrounds.

Penn State is a good school and the cream of the crop will place on Wall Street. I understand the desire for greater opportunity but at the end of the day, there are a ton of super qualified kids gunning for a limited number of positions.

Jun 12, 2021 - 7:04pm

The system works fine. I got in from a non-target and a few of my peers got into IB as well. If you're really dying to do finance you'll put in the work to make it happen. Plenty of kids at my school just aren't interested or don't like the lifestyle.

Jun 12, 2021 - 9:16pm

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