As Harvard, Notre Dame, Georgetown and others pledge to increase diversity, admitting the children of alumni at higher rates complicates their efforts
Top colleges have pledged to become more socioeconomically diverse, but the admissions edge many give to children of alumni may make that goal harder to achieve.
.. At the University of Notre Dame, the University of Virginia and Georgetown University, the admission rate for legacies is about double the rate for the overall applicant pool, according to data from the schools. At Princeton University, legacies are admitted at four times the general rate, or roughly 30% compared with about 7% overall over the past five years, the school says.
Legacy applicants at Harvard University were five times as likely to be admitted as non-legacies, according to an analysis of admissions data from 2010 through 2015. The numbers—33.6% for legacies and 5.9% for those without parental ties—were submitted in a June court filing for a case claiming Asian students are being discriminated against in the name of greater diversity at the school.
.. Diversity initiatives have led to complaints by white students that minority students have a leg up. Meanwhile, highly qualified Asian students say they should get more slots based on academics. Both say long-standing traditions like legacy admissions soak up coveted spots.
Advocates for considering legacy status argue that favoring the children—and, in some cases, grandchildren—of graduates helps maintain an engaged and generous alumni base and lets students serve as ambassadors to new campus arrivals.
Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack has said legacy admissions help perpetuate “a Cornell family that goes on for generations.” In an interview with the student newspaper in May, she said the practice isn’t about giving preference or an advantage to legacies, but such a designation is one of many “balancing factors.”
A handful of elite schools, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology, don’t consider legacy status in admissions... calling for a dozen schools, including Brown University, Duke University, Swarthmore College and Emory University, to review their legacy admission policies... Legacy preferences, which historians say were originally developed to keep Jewish students from prestigious colleges in the early 1900s, generally benefit applicants who are wealthy and white.. Calling legacy admissions a “classist, racist institution,” Brookings Institution senior fellow Richard Reeves said, “There is an inescapable hypocrisy of an institution saying, ‘We are going to be open and meritocratic,’ and maintaining a hereditary privilege.”.. Legacies made up roughly 5% of the applicant pool and 15% of this fall’s entering class at the University of Virginia... “ ‘Special consideration’ refers to the longstanding practice of the dean of admissions and his staff carefully reviewing applicants whose parents or grandparents are alumni before final decisions are made.. say much of the differential in admission rates can be explained by legacy applicants’ higher academic credentials and cultural fit. They say legacies also enroll at higher rates than other accepted students.