Everything You Need To Know About Harvard Legacy Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a female Harvard legacy student

Everything You Need To Know About Harvard Legacy Students

It is estimated that 75 percent of the top 100 U.S. colleges consider legacy students when making admissions decisions. This includes all Ivy League universities and numerous ultra-elite private institutions like Harvard University.

Although a much smaller number of highly selective schools openly oppose granting favor to legacy students, other schools, such as Stanford University and UNC, only take primary legacy into consideration.

Interestingly, most elite schools grant much greater consideration to a parent who attended their undergraduate school versus a graduate program.

What are Legacy Students?

In the context of college admissions, a legacy student is someone whose parents attended or graduated from the same institution where the student is applying. Private universities in the United States often offer legacy students a notable advantage in the admissions process. However, some esteemed institutions, such as MIT, do not take legacy status into consideration.

A building in Harvard University

Colleges want to build well-rounded classes made up of specialists, but they also care about their yield and, therefore want to also admit qualified students who will enroll.

Applying as a legacy is one way to demonstrate interest and can signal to colleges that, if admitted, you are likely to attend the institution because you already have strong emotional ties to it. Colleges and universities also care about alumni engagement and development, and offering admission to qualified students of alumni can help bolster alumni giving.

Undoubtedly, legacy schools anticipate greater financial contributions in exchange for legacy recognition. However, a major study found that schools that grant legacy status have no fundraising advantage over those that do not. In fact, two of the top eight U.S. institutions with the largest endowments are MIT ($27 billion) and Texas A&M ($13.5 billion), both of which have prohibited legacy-based admission for over a decade.

Why do colleges give priority to Legacy Admissions?

Have you ever wondered why schools give preference to students whose parents attended the same institution in the past? According to the institutions, legacy admissions are a way to uphold tradition and acknowledge the contributions made by the university’s founders. Supporters of the practice often use the term “intergenerational continuity” to justify it.

We recognize that many people react with skepticism, but as much as we sympathize, we also recognize that there are other reasons why legacy students remain a part of school culture.

It is common knowledge that these colleges and universities are also athletic clubs and educational institutions. The Ivy League is, first and foremost, an athletic league.

For example:

Dear old Dad attended Harvard and is a HUGE Harvard FAN! Consequently, he is a Harvard football fan! He supports Harvard, attends homecoming and the Harvard-Yale game, and raises his children to be Harvard supporters as well.

So when the kids reach adulthood, what do they usually think when it comes to college? Football games, right? They’ll realize that they’re lifelong Harvard fans! The concept of attending Yale, or even Notre Dame, is comparable to switching from the Yankees to the Red Sox or to the Cubs and White Sox. It could be inconceivable for them as their identity is intertwined with the team they support.

This situation is not the same for everyone, but statistically, many American families can relate to this matter.

How many Legacy Students are at Harvard?

You may ask, “How many legacy students are there at Harvard?” Approximately 30% of Harvard students are legacy students. You may wonder how many they admit overall. These numbers are difficult to locate. Perhaps Harvard does not want it to be easily searchable.

Harvard is aware of the increasing number of think pieces and editorials questioning the morality of legacy admissions. Their admissions department must strike a delicate balance between admitting legacy students and accepting students solely on the basis of merit.

Even at its height, Harvard only accepted 33% of legacy students. It’s much easier than the overall 6%, but it’s not a slam dunk. You must still be a qualified candidate. This includes high grades, test scores, extracurricular activities, and excellent essays.

There are numerous inheritances. Simply put, you must stand out.

There are additional factors that distinguish legacies. We’re not suggesting that you must donate to a library or be scouted for volleyball, but we’re also not suggesting that doing so would hurt your chances. If that is not an option for your family, we recommend consulting college placement companies such as AdmissionSight. Legacies have to turn in great applications just like any other student.

Harvard University

AdmissionSight can help you make the strongest application possible. We know from experience that standing out with a great essay and writing supplement can make the difference between getting in and not as a legacy. Set up a free consultation today to learn more about what admission professionals can do for you.

Harvard has a large number of legacy students, and this makes it easier for them to gain admission on some level. However, if you wish to attend Harvard, being a legacy is insufficient. You must ensure that you are a strong candidate, and applying early is probably wise. Because admission to Harvard is so competitive, you should seize every advantage you can, and we can assist you.

What perks do the Legacy Students get from Harvard?

The most pressing question is, “What perks do legacy students get from Harvard?”

Although we cannot say for certain, being one of the legacy students makes it easier to gain entry (or at least it has in the past.) This is good news for legacy applicants, but we caution parents not to become complacent. Even if you are a legacy student, you must still distinguish yourself. Harvard does not accept most of its legacy candidates, so you must be a top candidate amongst other legacies.

However, if we’re talking about campus perks, Harvard doesn’t give special treatment to legacy students simply because it advocates equality and provides the same amount of opportunities to each of its students.




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