Legacy Advantage?

By Jacqui McLean

As college application season winds down, students now must sit and wait for decisions to come out. During the time spent stressing over acceptances, many questions and speculations come to light. One of the most age old and prominent being the possibility of legacy advantages. But is “legacy advantage” truly a prominent factor in today’s college admissions, and if so, should it be?

Legacy advantage is the practice of colleges giving preferential admissions treatment to the children of its alumni. Prestigious colleges and high ranking universities historically value legacy advantage the most. The following colleges have the most notable legacy advantage. 

Harvard– Harvard legacies have an acceptance rate predicted to be around five times higher than the average applicant. 

Stanford– Stanford’s legacy acceptance rate was 16.2% for the class of 2023, over five times higher than the average applicant. 

Princeton– Princeton’s acceptance rate for legacies is nearly ten times higher than an average applicant, at 30%. 

Other acclaimed universities that consider legacy in the admissions process are Columbia, Yale, UPenn, Duke, and Northwestern. 

With so many prestigious universities considering an uncontrollable factor, it begs the question, are legacy admissions ethical? Most universities claim that legacy advantage is not incredibly significant, as it is simply an element in their comprehensive review of an applicant. The significant advantage for legacies could simply be attributed to parental pressure to live up to academic expectations, or the fact that legacy parents value higher education. As well, school’s may simply want students who were raised by parents that the school already approved of.  Perhaps, schools just have a sense of loyalty to their alumni. No matter the reason, legacy advantage is clearly a questionable factor in many school’s admissions process.