HigherEdMorning.comThe legacy admissions conundrum

The legacy admissions conundrum

February 4, 2011 by Jacob Hawley
Posted in: Admissions & Financial Aid, Enrollment, In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views

Family connections give applicants a major leg up over the competition. But is it fair? 

Students applying to a parent’s alma mater are seven times more likely to get in than nonlegacy applicants, says a new study by a Harvard doctoral student.

Compare that to students with parents who did graduate work, and those with only extended family who attended the school. They were only twice as likely to be admitted.

The study’s chief finding: If a nonlegacy applicant faced a 15% chance of admission, a primary legacy (the child of an alumnus) with the same credentials would have a 60% chance.

While some researchers are pointing to the practice as being fundamentally unfair since it gives preference to those who already have advantages, some of the study’s findings show that academic performance may still play a major role: Legacy students, on average, had slightly higher SAT scores than their nonlegacy counterparts.

Legacy admissions practices have most recently been criticized for failing to increase alumni giving.

What’s your take on legacies? Share your thoughts in the comments section, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

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