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NY Times Op-Ed: Dump Legacy Preference

Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley 6083 replies100309 threadsFounder Senior Member
edited October 2010 in College Admissions
An op-ed piece in the NY Times by Richard Kahlenberg titled "Elite Colleges, or Colleges for the Elite?" suggests that legacy preferences may be illegal, and that traditional reasons for admitting legacy candidates (e.g., higher alumni giving) aren't supported by statistics.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/30/opinion/30kahlenberg.html

From the stats I've seen, being a legacy isn't much of an advantage at most elite schools, and legacy status often results in a "courtesy waitlist" that, of course, never turns into an acceptance.

Of course, if your parent (or grandparent) is able to make an enormous contribution, that's a different story. Kahlenberg might find that even more problematic, but institutional survival is still Job One at colleges and universities.
edited October 2010
68 replies
Post edited by Roger_Dooley on
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Replies to: NY Times Op-Ed: Dump Legacy Preference

  • bmanbs2bmanbs2 1633 replies86 threads Senior Member
    Legacy admissions is more accurately titled legacy admi$$ions. It's a good way for need-blind schools to admit fewer spoiled students from below the poverty line that qualify for substantial need-based aid.
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  • PlainsmanPlainsman 1406 replies97 threads Senior Member
    It's wrong. Period. It's Affirmative Action for well-to-do white kids.
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  • standrewsstandrews 1343 replies22 threads Senior Member
    The colleges themselves need to determine their admission policies not the NY Times.
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  • Aman13Aman13 75 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Legacy admissions should be removed. I mean, I can understand why they were started from a historical and admission standpoint, but its still a very cheap way to get into a school. The only seemingly reasonable reason to keep it around is that it makes the decisions of Ivy league and other high ranking schools much easier when they get tens of thousands of highly qualified students applying. Otherwise, all legacy admissions contribute to are a "birth right" to get into top tier schools. I don't mind legacy being "A factor", but this isn't an Affirmitive Action program that can "help" students get in. If the data is true that 10-25% of the student population are legacies, then unless there is about that portion of applicants who are legacies there is a great reason why students should be upset. I shouldn't have a smaller chance at an Ivy league school just because my parents aren't Harvord grads.

    Very intersting article. Thanks for Sharing!
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  • splat11splat11 287 replies6 threads Junior Member
    I don't really care. The college should be able to select the students they want. but why should any thing other than your performance get you into a school. That includes race gender, and legacy.
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  • highschoolruleshighschoolrules 98 replies44 threads Junior Member
    I don't get what's wrong with legacy admits...or what's more wrong about it then affirmative action.
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  • daretorundaretorun 669 replies18 threads Member
    I don't get what's wrong with legacy admits...or what's more wrong about it then affirmative action.

    I, personally, don't think legacy admits are really significant enough to push more qualified applicants out of the "accepted pool" so it doesn't matter to me. It's life.

    However, I still think legacy admits is not the same as affirmative action. Affirmative action is in place to put disadvantaged students at an equal playing field as the average student. Statistics do exist that hispanics and blacks are more likely to be impoverished than the average caucasian.

    I understand there are inherent flaws in the way affirmative action works, but idealistically it helps those who are underprivileged receive the same opportunities as those who aren't. Legacy admits are not usually "underprivileged" and therefore do not need a leg up. It's a totally different situation.
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  • limabeanslimabeans 4649 replies105 threads Senior Member
    I liked this op-ed piece. I often wondered which ivy my son would have gotten into if only his parents hadn't gone to tier-82 colleges. He was certainly a smart kid, great stats/scores/grades/awards, but lacking the legacy. Got WL'd instead.
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  • limabeanslimabeans 4649 replies105 threads Senior Member
    standrews: at least the NYTimes writes about this stuff! Maybe you don't like to see it because your kid (or you) wouldn't be in an ivy without the legacy hook?
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  • bioslickbioslick 49 replies0 threads Junior Member
    As a society it is imperative to keep Legacy & affirmative action. They are critical for the self esteem of the parent whose child does not get admitted to their Ivy of choice. Otherwise they would be left with blaming geographical preference for taking their child's slot.
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  • mommusicmommusic 8232 replies69 threads Senior Member
    I don't think Legacy admission is defendable (there must be a better word for that.) Defensible. I mean, really...you get in because your parents went there?
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  • Professor101Professor101 623 replies17 threads Member
    I won't use one brush to paint everything. Public schools like UC Berkely should not have legacy and they don't. Private schools rely heavily on private donations should be allowed to have legacy. Private schools are non-profit business and they should be allowed to survive.
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  • navyasw02navyasw02 245 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Not to justify the practice of legacy admissions, but how is it any different from having well off/successful parents who leverage their status for you anyway? Do you think Donald Trump's kids would be where they are now if their last name was Smith? Lets be realistic here, nepotism has existed in all parts of society since society began. How's it any different in the academic world?
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  • sahmilsahmil 1 replies0 threads New Member
    in my opinion performance should be the only reason for one to get an admission into any college as it is the soul way deserving candidates can succeed
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  • mifunemifune 2733 replies28 threads Senior Member
    I support the author's position. The "old boy's network" is inequitable and is really only countered with the timeworn and witless argument that colleges may ultimately do whatever they please.
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  • M's MomM's Mom 4507 replies55 threads Senior Member
    One of the primary beneficiaries of legacy status are the children of current faculty and senior staff. I wonder if the author would find this more defensible. Is avoiding having to deal with upset faculty and staff whose kids were turned down, a good enough reason to admit them-assuming, as the schools assure us, that they met the academic standards? I also wonder how many kids in the legacy category fall into this group vs. the kids of alums.
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  • Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley 6083 replies100309 threadsFounder Senior Member
    There are a couple of separate questions, I think:

    1) Should a school be able to make admissions decisions that benefit the institution and increase its probability of surviving as an elite institution in the future? I think the answer to this is yes, even if it means admitting a few kids that meet the school's standards but would have had a lower probability of acceptance than some other applicants. This happens - "development" candidates (e.g., dad's a billionaire), celebrity applicants (where either the kid is a celebrity or a parent is), etc. In each case, an institutional objective is being served - financial support in the future, visibility in the press, etc. Every legacy applicant may not offer that kind of impact, but at the top schools it's not that much of an advantage, either. If I was applying to Harvard, I'd rather be Bill Gates' kid or a successful teen movie star than the kid of an undistinguished grad from the class of '85.

    2) Do legacy admissions benefit the school? The author of the op-ed piece cites research saying they don't. I haven't seen the research, but it seems to fly in the face of logic. Surely, families with multi-generation ties to an institution are more likely to be generous in supporting it, and are more likely to encourage their own kids to apply when they are of college age.

    I'd guess that if legacies were truly shown to be no better financially for the schools, the admissions preferences would vanish. Indeed, with the minimal preference at most schools now, perhaps they have already made that decision - likely, many of the legacy candidates admitted are also development prospects or have some other edge. Or, maybe they are actually among the most qualified.

    I think some people overestimate the benefit of legacy status. I'd be surprised if the stats of legacy admits were signficantly different than the class as a whole, at least at the most elite schools.
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  • gotogoalgotogoal 2 replies0 threads New Member
    If these elite PRIVATE Colleges and Universities want to admit kids based on legacy family connections....that's fine.....HOWEVER, they should not retain their Federal tax status as a not-for-profit institution. They no longer comply with the tax defintion....in fact, schools like Middlebury and Bowdoin and Harvard and Princeton should have lost their no-tax status long ago. What's really happening, because of their tax status, is each and everyone of us are subsidizing those schools.

    Also consider this: Rich families will donate funds (it's currently a tax deduction) to their favorite private college...in return little Suzie or little Johnnie are admitted and given a free "academic" ride. The school gets money and the family takes a hefty tax write-off that would otherwise NOT exist.

    Wake up small people...they are being subsidized by you and ME!

    If 99% of the students are not accepted based on merit or a EO need approved by Congress, then they lose their tax free status. If they want to be a school of the "connected" then the consequence is you are no longer a not-for-profit institution - PERIOD!
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  • VanagandrVanagandr 715 replies15 threads- Member
    It's wrong. Period. It's Affirmative Action for well-to-do white kids.

    As opposed to someone else?
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  • UVaHoo87UVaHoo87 326 replies8 threads Member
    it appears, based on anecdotal evidence, that legacy favoritism has gone the way of the dodo at my alma mater, unless, of course, you are an out-of-state legacy that will pay the big out-of-state tuition to go to UVa.
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