I've been pondering this for a while, and while I count down the days until my application is due I wanted to start a discussion on this topic.
While I know no on outside the inner admission circle REALLY knows the exact value, from personal experience, information gathered, and perhaps some lesser known or available statistics, how much is legacy worth, ball park.
I'll use myself as an example. I am qualified. My scores are above the average for Yale, my GPA is for all intents and purposes flawless, and I've taken rigorous courses etc etc. I have some unique ECs that express a passion and have dedicated time to and have leadership in these activities. I have great teacher recs from teachers I know well, and I have been polishing my essays for months. But let's face it. Most competitive applicants have all of the above.
So where does legacy factor in? I've heard many people postulate that "it only matters if you're qualified" or that it's "a minor tip, at best". However, we've all seen the threads that say "EA is really only for Athletes/URMs/Legacies. Really now? Is legacy status truly in that category?
For a discussion sparker, lets say there are two well qualified applicants. One is ever so slightly better academically, and by slightly I mean like 4.0 vs 3.95 GPA and 2350 vs 2300 SATs for generic numbers. Does legacy tip the lower kid? Where is the cutoff?
"Yesterday morning, I participated in a panel discussion at New York University on admission preferences for legacy candidates with Jeffrey Brenzel, dean of admissions at Yale, . . ."
"Brenzel, to his credit, gave only a qualified defense of legacy preferences and provided some interesting data about the substantial decline in legacy admissions at Yale over time. In 1939, he said, legacies (defined as children of Yale college graduates) made up 31.4 percent the enrolled class at Yale. Today, they make up 8.7 percent. (Including the children of Yale alumni of professional and graduate schools adds a few percentage points to these totals.)"
"At the forum, Brenzel noted that the percentage of low-income students receiving Pell Grants at Yale has increased to 14 percent, higher than the 10 percent overall figure for legacies."
"Brenzel’s observation that legacy candidates receive “about the same” preference weight as low-income students in Yale’s admissions process ... "
"Jeffrey B. Brenzel, dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University made the case that legacy preference at Yale College is diminishing and what remains is grounded in financial reality."
"“We turn away 80 percent of our legacies, and we feel it every day,” Mr. Brenzel said, adding that he rejected more offspring of the school’s Sterling donors than he accepted this year (Sterling donors are among the most generous contributors to Yale). He argued that legacies scored 20 points higher on the SAT than the rest of the class as a whole."
"Mr. Brenzel made the case that low-income students represented an increasing size of Yale’s undergraduate class, even though they had less of a track record of success at the university. About 14 percent of the incoming class is supported by Pell Grant students, he said, saying that with respect to preferences, “the trend is down for legacy and up for underrepresented minorities.”"
Thanks gibby that article is pretty interesting. Also thanks Hunt for the encouraging anecdotes Haha.
Does anyone else have any thoughts on what the benefit of legacy is? If you had to put a raw number to it, would it be a 1% chance boost? 10%? Its very elusive and hard to quantify, but it intrigues me.
None of us can quantify it b/c Yale doesn't quantify it either. It's an amorphous goal. Quxotic. Don't spend a second thinking of it. 80% of legacy applicants get denied. So what? You can only apply with what you have. That's what I'm going to tell my soph DD, almost straight A student at one of the best HS in the country, multiple varsity sport, 2nd degree black belt. Legacy. Maybe yes, maybe no. I know the hard numbers.
Can't put a number to it, but I'll add my single data point/anecdote: D was deferred early, then rejected. I assume she was qualified because she's very happy at P.
The advice for legacies is the same as that for all applicants: give it your best shot, if you aren't accepted early be sure your list of regular admission apps covers all the bases. (P did not have early when D applied but if they had, she probably would have still done early at Yale because we assumed she had a slight edge there.)
Location: South of the Mason-Dixon line, north of Cuba
Every legacy I've known who is at Yale has been a very good candidate for peer schools. So if you look like a good candidate for Yale (and you want to go there), go ahead and apply. Your legacy status might help and can't hurt.
However, let me warn you that if you are accepted, your high-school classmates and their parents will assume forever after that your legacy status is what got you in. At least, that's the way it is in my town.
If you're torn about applying early to Yale vs some other school - then I'd say your legacy status probably does not help enough to weigh in the balance, but I'm basing that on gut, not statistics.
The way it works for legacies is that they are evaluated in a pool of their own. So you are not compared to a like non legacy. How you show depends on who is in the legacy pool and what attributes they show. . Ghe figure Brenzel gives for legacy acceptance is 20%. Given that the overall acceptance rate for Yale is much less (and that is with that 20% accept rate included in it as well as those other categories that are given a bump such as recruited athletes, development, celebrity, first generation low income (PELL) kids) I would say the legacy crowd has a definite edge.
My estimate after following this for a number of years is that legacy gives a small edge. It used to be said that legacy would heal the sick, but not raise the dead--but I suspect even that's overstating it. If you look at results threads here over the last few years, you'll see that the legacies who are accepted have very strong qualifications, not noticeably different from the qualifications of non-legacies. I think it is less of an edge than is provided by other hooks, like athletics, development, or URM.
And you just don't know who those 80% of legacies who are rejected are--they could be highly qualified, but they could also be people who overestimated how much legacy status would outweigh weaknesses in their qualifications.
So don't overthink it. If you're qualified, and you really like Yale, consider applying SCEA.
There was a dad earlier this year posting about his legacy son who was rejected by Yale but accepted by Harvard. One would think if legacy was even a moderate advantage, then any Yale legacy good enough for admission to Harvard should be a shoo-in for Yale but that was not the case much to the dissatisfaction of his dad. Take this single data point and make of it what you will. The 20% of legacies accepted look much better on paper than the typical Yale applicant accounting for some of this impressive rate.