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What Are Legacy Admissions?
A legacy applicant is a student who has a close family member who graduated from the same college or university that the student is applying to. Read more about legacy admissions and how it could affect your college admissions experience!
What is a legacy student?
In college admissions, a legacy student is defined as a college applicant with a close family member, typically a parent, who graduated from the college that the student wants to attend. Legacy students often receive a boost in private university admissions. In contrast, some colleges do not consider legacy status at all. There are levels of legacy depending on the relationship to the alumni involved.
A primary legacy is someone with a direct parental connection to a college. This status can be a major boost for college admissions.
A secondary legacy is a relative, usually grandparents, siblings, or aunt/uncles, who graduated from the particular school. This status can be slightly helpful in the admissions process, but it is not as meaningful as primary legacy status.
What are legacy admissions?
Legacy admission is the practice of giving special preference to the children or relatives of alumni in the admissions process. The word “legacy” is defined as “a candidate for membership in an organization (such as a school or fraternal order) who is given special status because of a familial relationship to a member.” In this regard, “special status” means that all things considered between similar applicants, a legacy applicant has a better chance of admission.
Are legacy admissions in use today?
The practice of giving preference to legacy students is quite widespread in the United States. All of the Ivy League schools consider legacy status. Duke University, Georgetown University, Stanford University, and many other top tier universities and colleges all consider legacy status as well.
Some colleges do not consider legacy in admissions
There are some highly-selective colleges that are openly opposed to granting favor to legacy students. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Johns Hopkins University do not consider legacy status for admission. Amherst College recently announced that they ended legacy admissions. Some schools only consider legacy status in the early decision and early action candidates.
Why are legacy admissions controversial?
Legacy admissions put lower-income students at a disadvantage when it comes to admissions. Those who reap the benefits of legacy admissions typically come from wealthier families that can afford to send their child to a particular school. In addition, the legacy students often had life advantages in comparison to the struggle of some high-achieving low-income students. While both are similar on paper when applying to college, the legacy student has the advantage.
When did legacy admissions start?
Legacy admissions were originally intended to keep Jewish immigrant students from attending universities due to the spike in applications in the United States after World War I. During the 1960s civil rights movements, colleges used legacy admissions to minimize the number of Black students admitted.
Why do colleges care about legacy students?
Applying as a legacy student lets colleges know that if the student is admitted, they will likely attend. This allows colleges and universities to plan ahead as they can depend on the revenue brought in by legacy students who are more likely to matriculate.
Legacy admissions are perceived as a way to keep the alumni community happy as they continue to grow their endowments through generous donations.
How do colleges learn whether an applicant is a legacy student?
There is a question on the Common Application or within the college’s application about the legacy status of the student applying. Typically, there are two to three questions asking if the student has any relatives that attended the college they are applying to.
How much does legacy status impact acceptance to a college?
If the grades, test scores, and overall profile are not up to the university’s standards, a legacy student most likely will not be accepted. The impact of legacy is dependent on the particular college and their own criteria for admitting legacy students.
Frequently asked questions about legacy students
Do legacy students have a higher acceptance rate?
Do legacy students get rejected?