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Legacy? My mom's maiden name is on a building

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Replies to: Legacy? My mom's maiden name is on a building

  • lostaccountlostaccount Registered User Posts: 4,582 Senior Member
    Or you can try to be admitted to Cornell on the merits of your own achievements. After all, would you really want to attend a school that admitted you on the basis of the fact that a relative donated a lot of money long ago? And why would or should that give you a leg up over other applicants? Would the school be hoping for larger donations from you than others? Could you ever feel you were a legitimate admit? I'd advise against trying to have your father strut his heritage. It seems unseemly. Wouldn't it feel better knowing you got in on the basis of your own achievements?
  • fsadreamerfsadreamer Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    @lostaccount I know that I am a legitimate contender for a spot at the university. I attended a prestigious private school, have earned a 3.85 unweighted GPA, and a 34 on my ACT, among a fantastic extracurricular record. However, this is not necessarily enough to be admitted to such a prestigious school as Cornell: I am merely trying to gain a leg up, as do the first generation students when they write so on their applications. I am trying not to flaunt it. That is why I asked for opinions to begin with––the last thing I want to appear as is entitled.
  • fsadreamerfsadreamer Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    @oldfort Thank you for your honest and helpful replies! My father has agreed to contact them. Thank you!
  • IvyGrad09IvyGrad09 Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    I know of families with continuing legacy connection at several top schools that were based originally on an ancestor having come through with a building or two.

    That founding generosity was appreciated enough to create a door that remains open to this day: A building is not a small thing to have contributed to a school, and makes for a memorable and respectable connection.

    Personally, I would not call the school. They are busy, and the call may come off all wrong, especially down a line of relayed messages.

    I would mention your special connection in your interview and in your school specific essay response.

    Just be careful not to sound arrogant or presumptuous. And if you're not as loaded as your predecessor, you and your parents may have to come clean with the large gifts office.

    Are you capable of doing well at Cornell? Do you fit in there? Your story may be enough to get you over the line if you are otherwise competitive.
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 20,931 Senior Member
    edited September 25
    After all, would you really want to attend a school that admitted you on the basis of the fact that a relative donated a lot of money long ago?
    Hmmm, let me just think about that for...half a second (tick), YES!
    Oh please, look at how many qualified applicants get turned away every year. The ones that get admitted are not any more qualified or deserving than the students who are rejected. Schools like Cornell are not likely to admit students who are not qualified or could not succeed at their schools. If there is some little hook that could help push you over to the admit side, I say use it.
    My brother is a very involved alum. He gave up a lot of his personal time for the school. There was nothing wrong when the school took a bit more special look at his boys when they were applying. If his kids weren't qualified they wouldn't have been admitted.
  • katliamomkatliamom Registered User Posts: 11,110 Senior Member
    edited September 25
    I know the family that built the main library at Harvard. That legacy didn't work for them for more than the past 60 years. So I agree that there seems to be a statute of limitations on this sort of thing -- unless of course the family can still be counted upon to donate a few million. That changes everything :)
  • momcincomomcinco Registered User Posts: 960 Member
    Keep us posted, OP. Wishing you all the best.
  • TTdd16TTdd16 Registered User Posts: 93 Junior Member
    edited September 25
    I suppose it's a matter of different values, but I'm with @lostaccount. I would never want to use this type of legacy to gain an edge in admissions. It's fundamentally unfair. For the OP to compare using this to being a first generation student means he or she has absolutely no understanding of why that designation matters to colleges. A typical first generation student is likely to have parents who aren't knowledgeable about the college admissions process and who can't offer the same kind of support that's routine with upper middle class/wealthy parents. First generation students often are fairly low income, which can mean weak public schools and a lack of educational opportunities. And how many first generation students are able to pay for expensive test prep, or private tutoring for tough classes, or to take the SAT/ACT over and over again? Colleges want students who are resilient and who can overcome obstacles, ones who haven't had everything handed to them. That's why they care whether a student is first generation or not. And no, being a major legacy is not the same thing--it's actually the opposite. (I'm helping a few students with their QuestBridge application essays right now, so I suppose I'm particularly sensitive to this subject.)
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 24,190 Senior Member
    edited September 25
    OP's connection is legacy from Dad. The guy with the same surname as Mom didn't go to Cornell. And he gave to lots of colleges, right?

    Legacy shows on the Common App, where you give details of your parents' educations. It can get recorded from that.

    Nothing wrong with being legacy. If you don't qualify for admission, you won't get in. But agree not to write in detail about this guy. He's not applying.

    Plus, if OP thought of an essay on *him,* I'm wondering how much he does know about what Cornell wants in an essay.

    "Its not about YOU at all, most colleges are bored with the essays today." Huh?
  • ColoradomamaColoradomama Registered User Posts: 875 Member
    What I was trying to say is that an essay is used to judge the applicants character. Essays are hard to write. If one writes about why one is inspired by a very wealthy relative, it may show a students character as well or better than any other essay. Its not really about self as much as it is about character. Essays reveal character. Many essays come off as a brag list and colleges see thousands of essays like that. The key with the essay is : show writing skills, and show character. Analyzing a rich relative with ties to Cornell , could be an interesting read. Admissions counselors read millions of boring essays, so a character analysis might just be the ticket. There are lots of strange essays out there and the ones that are about ME ME ME, rarely stand out.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 24,190 Senior Member
    My perspective is, it isn't about character. It's about how he thinks, including what he chooses to write about, what understanding that shows. And how he shows the attributes those adcoms like and want. Go off track, write about something not relevant or not reflecting who this kid is now, and you can miss the point.

    And it's "show, not just tell." Not ancestor this and ancestor that, but how this kid operates. Today. Not inspiration as much as follow through, actual, not dreams. It's not analysis.

    It is not high school writing. It *is* eyes on the kid, for an admit decision to that college. They want certain attributes among kids in their campus community- not the ancestor's. And that doesn't mean a resume, heroics, or someone else's history. Not at all. Not for admission.

    Sure, many are boring. That's on the individual kid. It doesn't mean you veer off track.
  • dcolosidcolosi Registered User Posts: 315 Member
    @fsadreamer if you have a legacy to the school and it can work to your advantage then I would certainly explore how it can help you. You will find after school that networking and relationships are important.

    My daughters are direct blood line decedents of the founder of a very well known University. My first born D carries the family name. The school would be very happy if one of my two D's choose to go there. She choose to go somewhere else because of what she wanted to major in and my younger one is a few years away from college but is considering this school. Each university is different and how they view legacy's are different.

    In my case, the school knows we live in the vicinity and my wife and girls attended a reception held by the University President a few years ago and we've been invited to different events throughout the years. There is no problem with leveraging relationships or connections. Not sure I would put it in the essay but I certainly would be reaching out to the school and letting them know of your intentions to apply.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 24,190 Senior Member
    I've admitted before that, in doing genealogy, I discovered an ancestor was among the first classes at a well known LAC that was a great match for D, and she for it. He's mentioned in the school's own history.

    I called and asked, in a lighthearted way, what they thought of mentioning this in "any other relatives who attended." They talked and said, sure, why not? It would have been merely a point of interest, no hook. Most likely, she would have noted in the Why Us that this led to her looking into the school, but followed by a fuller Why Us answer.

    She didn't apply there.

    OP, you really need to explore your own match, academics and other. How Cornell will view your record. Do you know what Cornell looks for?
  • ColoradomamaColoradomama Registered User Posts: 875 Member
    Here are three Common App prompts, and a Cornell essay on Colonialism in Africa, that got a student into Cornell:
    https://www.apstudynotes.org/cornell/post-colonial-african-conflict/

    5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

    6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? [New]

    7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. [New]

    An essay about a relative that is philanthropic, and chose to give a building to Cornell over
    thousands of other colleges, fits prompt 7, and maybe 5 and 6. From the perspective
    that learning about our legacy and our families tell us something about ourselves.

    It could be a powerful essay, in my opinion.

  • ColoradomamaColoradomama Registered User Posts: 875 Member
    I think its less about writing about self and more about WRITING and THINKING, thats what essays are today, otherwise how could the essay on Colonial Africa work to get a kiddo into Cornell University?
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