What Does Legacy Mean?

December 11, 2022
By AdmissionSight

What Does Legacy Mean?

What does legacy mean in college?

What does legacy mean in college? A “legacy” is a student who attended the same college as a parent or other family member. In the US, legacy students often have a much better chance of getting into private universities. Nevertheless, a lot of elite institutions, including MIT, don’t even take legacy status into account. Legacy admissions continue to be a contentious practice since they favor wealthy, white students.

A legacy student is a person who has a close relative who went to the same college as them—typically a parent. During the admissions process, these candidates are given extra consideration. Most institutions limit the legacy advantage to applicants with at least one parent currently enrolled; however, certain colleges may provide legacy status to alumni’s grandchildren or even siblings.

Several schools use legacy status as part of the admissions process because they think it makes the alumni more loyal, which makes it more likely that they will give money.

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Additionally, legacy students are more likely to accept an invitation to enroll. Compared to 69% of all other admitted students, roughly 89% of students with such status are enrolled at Princeton. A higher yield increases institutions’ selectivity and aids schools in more accurately predicting the sizes of their incoming classes. The yield is the proportion of admitted candidates who agree to enroll.

What does legacy mean in college applications?

At some universities, such status has a significant impact on admissions. In comparison to other applicants, legacy students at the top 30 U.S. universities “had a 45% greater likelihood of admission,” according to a 2011 survey.

At prestigious universities like Princeton, students with the said status benefit greatly. Only 5.5% of applicants for the class of 2022 were admitted to Princeton, while one-third of legacy applicants were offered admission.

Legacy students have a three times higher chance of being admitted to Stanford, one of the most elite universities in the nation. The chances of getting into Harvard are also five times higher for applicants with a family history there than for applicants without a family history there.

What does it mean to be a legacy?

What does it mean to be a legacy? “Legacy” applicants are college applicants who have some sort of familial connection to a particular institution. A student is considered to have this status at a college if someone in their immediate family now attends or has previously attended; however, at other institutions, it may also refer to a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or cousin.

Some organizations only take into account the “main” legacy, which consists of the offspring (or grandchildren) of alumni; however, other organizations are pleased to extend the criteria in any direction and take into account both undergraduate and graduate alumni.

What does legacy mean? Why is its status significant? The short answer is that having a legacy will almost certainly boost your chances of getting accepted to a specific college or university, especially a highly selective one. In comparison to non-legacies, the predicted admission rate for Harvard as of the previous year was more than five times higher!

It’s believed that between 25 and 35 percent of admitted students to the Ivy League have legacy status. For institutions that only accept less than 10% of applications, that’s a significant issue!

You might think that’s unjust, and in fact, calls for the most prestigious colleges to stop using such admissions have led to heightened scrutiny of legacy admissions in recent years from both inside and outside of universities. Most schools and colleges in the United States still take legacy status into account, with very few exceptions.

What ought you to understand about legacy status then?

First, you should be aware that it can have a significant impact on the higher early decision admission rate at many schools. This is because a disproportionate number of legacies are admitted early because most universities primarily consider your status in the early round, which can increase the early decision or early action percentage.

Second, inquire about resources available to you through the admissions office if you are a legacy student at your desired institution. Numerous prestigious universities, including Brown and Vanderbilt, provide prospective legacy applicants with a range of options, including personal counseling, campus tours, and even application critiques. It’s worth checking out even though it’s not accessible everywhere!

Do all schools encourage this behavior?

Three-quarters of the top 100 institutions in the United States are said to consider the status when making admissions decisions. This includes all of the schools in the Ivy League, as well as Georgetown, Duke, Swarthmore, Middlebury, Amherst, Tufts, and a lot of other very exclusive private schools.

Much fewer highly selective institutions publicly reject favoring its status. Hereditary privilege in the admissions process is explicitly opposed by MIT, CalTech, and Cooper Union, according to public records.

Other institutions just take primary legacies into account, including Stanford University and UNC. It’s interesting to note that most prestigious schools give parents who attended their undergraduate program significantly more weight than those who completed a graduate program.

What does legacy mean in college admissions?

What does legacy mean in college admissions? The controversy surrounding these admissions stems from the fact that they expose a glaring inconsistency in American higher education. Prestigious colleges assert that they are devoted to accepting only the “best and brightest.”

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On the other hand, these same universities continue to favor alumni offspring, a policy that clearly has little to do with quality and favors wealthy, white students disproportionately. Universities admit a disproportionately high number of privileged children, which begs the question: Do they really want the finest and the brightest? Do they prefer the wealthiest and whitest instead?

Contrarian arguments for legacy student preferences

Today, over 90% of legacy admits are white students. Admissions are frequently perceived as an exclusive system that favors applicants with prior advantages.

According to Harvard alum Evan Mandery, “There’s no compelling moral claim that accidents of birth that benefit you—like being a man, or being white, or being a rich, white man—should give you a further advantage.”

Students of color do not benefit from policies nearly as much as white students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 19% and 27% of Latino/a, Black, Pacific Islander, and American Indian children had parents who have bachelor’s degrees, compared to more than half of white kids.

Following our discussion on “What does legacy mean?” It’s time to put in the effort to learn more about your chances of admission, whether you have a legacy status or not. To explore the next phases of your college application, get in touch with AdmissionSight for a free introductory consultation with our college admission specialists.


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