Why you should consider Notre Dame for undergrad
Recent ND grad here. Was reading the post about Brown today and it got me to write about my experiences recruiting for banking at Notre Dame, since I think it might be a little underrated on this forum. My background is that of a recent grad (Class of 2020 or 2021) and I'm now at a top EB/. I also have siblings and friends who went to ivies and recruited for banking and investment roles as well so I know and understand a bit about the recruiting processes at some of the top target schools as well. I just think Notre Dame is often dismissed as a nontarget or fringe semi-target on this forum when that's simply not the case anymore. I hope to encourage kids who might be looking at other semi-target schools to consider Notre Dame as well.
1. Notre Dame's placement is definitely solid. Something I've always read on WSO is how ND is a target for Chicago but not for New York, or that it doesn't really place as well as some east-coast schools. This just isn't true anymore In my class, being conservative, I'd guess 80%+ of the kids went to NY and the kids who aren't are staying in Chicago because they want to stay in Chicago. Furthermore, straight from a newsletter I received a couple days ago, the class of 2021 sent 110 kids to investment banking roles and 250 kids to jobs in financial services overall. That's pretty freaking good.
We send 4-5 kids to. , PJT and Lazard each take a couple each year as well, including placements at PJT RSSG each year. There are also placements at PWP/ and pretty much any other EB as well. We also have a RX and we send like 1-2 there each year. On top of this, there are ~50-60 kids going to BB IB each year. I know kids going to MS M&A, , and whatnot, so top groups are all achievable. We also have solid placement at every major MM and we send about ~40-50 kids there yearly.
On the buyside, we send ~15 kids to PE/credit each year.a couple each year. takes 1 or 2. We also send 1 or 2 randomly each year to other MF's as well. Most kids go to a smattering of UMM and MM funds like Vista, Ares, , Golden Gate, and Stone Point, among others. ~ 5 go to VCs and HFs each year but that process is much less structured.
The TLDR is that we send ~110 kids to investment banking and ~20 to the buyside each year. These two numbers are straight from career center data so no need to take my word for it. This is out of ~200 finance majors in each class. Those are some crazy numbers, especially when we aren't even/AM/S&T placements as well. As a side note, at Notre Dame, anyone can recruit for IB successfully but its almost all finance majors by self-selection. I've seen engineering majors go to megafunds and top BB though so its not really gated.
2. Notre Dame makes it extremely easy to recruit in a non-competitive environment
Notre Dame practically holds your hand in the recruiting process, and it all takes place in a very non-competitive setting. There is no recruiting for an exclusive club halfway through freshman year which makes your breaks your chances of getting into IB. Every club is 100% open and inclusive to all students and you can start practically anytime. I know kids who didn't know about banking until literally sophomore winter/spring and they landed BB offers. If you are dedicated and motivated from the beginning, there is absolutely no way you don't land the EB / Top BB / Buyside job that you want as long as you grind a bit.
There are two main finance clubs at Notre Dame. The Wall Street Club is the professional development club. They host networking chats, Q&A sessions, career treks, modeling bootcamps, interview workshops, and all the rest. It is 100% inclusive and everyone is always welcome. There is no strict interview process to gain access to their resources and connections. The second club is the Student International Business Council which basically places teams of students to work on a semester project with, Evercore, , , PJT, and others. You generally work with an upperclassman going to the firm and alums at the firm so you get to network and meet people while working on a practical finance project. There's also the Investment Club which has a student-run portfolio but I hear its changed a bunch since I was active in it so I really don't know much about it now.
The career center is also extremely helpful. You can start meeting with them as early as freshman year. They have new programs (which weren't even a thing when I was there) which place freshman and sophomores for externships or internships and pretty much hand-hold you through the process nowadays. Every serious kid I know, including myself, had an internship sophomore year at a reputable buyside firm and I've heard its gotten even easier nowadays. The career center reported 215 sophomore internships in financial services in 2021, which once again, is pretty big when considering that there are roughly ~200 finance majors in a class. And nowadays, sophomore internships are pretty much the key to recruiting. The kids with the best sophomore internships get the best junior internships, and a good relevant sophomore internship pretty much guarantees BB junior year as long as you have the stats and preparation.
And taking all of this into junior year recruiting, WSO is right about one thing, Notre Dame is practically a cult. Alums are going to bat for you no matter what. You might not have anything in common with them, but they're going to bat for you either way, because you went to Notre Dame. The upperclassmen will give you their pirated, hand-me-down interview prep materials and their strategies for firms, applications and networking. You don't have to be in the same club or frat as them, they will help you out. The career center will get you in touch with unique alums and opportunities and leverage pipelines that only they have access to. Frankly, you can't go wrong.
On top of all of this, Notre Dame is not that competitive. You're not going to hate yourself. Nobody is cutthroat. It's a collaborative environment with relatively easy business classes. I graduated summa cum laude with over a 3.9 and honestly I did not even work as hard as high school. It's not a hardo school either where you're competing with several hundred kids who want to work in IB. You're not going to spend every minute of your life worrying about getting into investment banking and living with students who live, eat, and breath finance. You're going to have a helluva good time and still get the job you want anyways. This kinda brings me to my 3rd part.
3. Notre Dame doesn't have crazy, draconian, religious culture
This is something that I think a lot of people worry about when thinking about going to Notre Dame. It's a hardcore religious Catholic school where you live in same-sex dorms under the supervision of priests. Everything I just said above is both true and false. Yes, Notre Dame is a catholic school. Yet, I was, and am, a liberal atheist who will argue with you about why God is not real, and I had no problem with religion at Notre Dame.
Firstly, politically, Notre Dame, like any other reputable institution, is liberal. The students are liberal. The profs are liberal. It might be a bit more conservative than Brown, but the student body is still mostly liberal. Most students you will find are pro LGBT and all the rest.
Academically, Notre Dame's Catholic roots mean taking two courses on theology. One of mine was basically on church history and another one was on biblical literature. Not so much theology as english and history. The theology courses really don't have a religious focus unless you want them to.
Outside of academics, what worries people most is the living culture. I am a guy and am speaking for guys here, this is WSO so I doubt it matters anyways. Girls and guys live in separate dorms and they are generally supervised by a religious person as their rector. There are also rules like you can't have girls in your room past 12 on weekdays and 2 on weekends. However, IMO, these rules are pretty much a farce, and the dorm you live in for most people is a fantastic experience.
You are assigned to a dorm before freshman year. I think something like 80% of the kids stay in that dorm because they love it so much. You are encouraged to bond with your dorm a lot during freshman year and the dorm you are in pretty much becomes your family. You eat with them, you drink with them, you chill with them, you party with them. The closest thing I liken it to is a frat. The people in your dorm become your brothers and it is a very fratty culture. Dorms literally have their own dorm alums who contribute to dorm funds, just like frats. Notre Dame has a huge (underage) drinking culture and this is propagated by parties in dorms. In no uncertain manner, our rectors and RA's pretty much look the other way in regards to this. The rectors in guys dorms are generally really chill, old priests and they basically only intervene if someone needs to go to the hospital. The will say hi and walk past you if you are shambling around drunk at 2am in your dorm building. Similarly, in my experience, nobody cares if you have girls stay the night. Just be discreet about it. The RA's are just seniors who partake in the drinking culture and don't cause any trouble either. They won't report you, they'll have a beer with you. Notre Dame is a normal school, with a normal college student body, who like to drink and have fun. Not a draconian catholic institution. However, this only goes for guys dorms. Girls dorms are way more strict and super dependent on what dorm you're in and who oversees you. I won't go more in depth because the high school female readership of WSO is probably quite low.
This is just a narrow example about how Notre Dame isn't this school full of crazy catholic zealots but I hope it illuminates the broader picture that Notre Dame is just like any other college. The kids here do the same things that kids do at any other school, and that means you will have just as much fun here as anywhere else, especially considering the D1 sports and football culture. Protip: just follow football and you'll be able to network with any ND alum.
Also, going to speak a little bit about South Bend here. It's a county of 300k people 90 minutes from Chicago. Not Ithaca (Cornell) which has 30k or Hanover (Dartmouth) which has 8k. It's not a small city, and there are parts of it that are quite nice and gentrified. Yes, parts of it suck. But Notre Dame is not one of those schools where you need, or want to, go more than 5 minutes off campus. All the kids who live off campus live within 5 minutes, and all the requisite food/clothing stores and bars are nearby. You live in a bubble of rich white people, just like any other top private school. You really don't need to go off campus, and I promise you won't want to.
I'll answer any questions if you guys want. Feel free to discuss, ask me anything, or even just make fun of Notre Dame grads.