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Legacies, full pay and donors. Misguided anger?

privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 3,055 Senior Member
edited March 2 in College Admissions
I went through a period of deep questioning and resentment for these admission preferences last year.

In the time since I’ve reflected on the question.

But without these tools how could schools offer meets full need, merit and other financial opportunities to other students without these funds? Fly in programs?

Not all of these lead to admission for their kids but at least keeps them in the game.

And what would buy the new buildings, pay for top professors and all the benefits afforded to students?

Would the middle class and lower ses students be completely locked out?

We want to broaden the net for students from all backgrounds to attend great schools.

So perhaps the anger is misplaced. If it wasn’t so, who pay for all of these kids to go to school?
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Replies to: Legacies, full pay and donors. Misguided anger?

  • mamommamom Registered User Posts: 3,599 Senior Member
    My older son attended school with a full merit scholarship. Really smart kid with high SAT scores. We chased merit money. Younger D is full pay, but an athlete. As an athlete she was expected to apply ED if she wanted to play. As an athlete, the school knew she would attend if accepted regardless of aid. If she decided to not attend, she was already locked out of most other schools looking for athletes. Athlete spots are usually filled with those applying ED. She got no merit aid, although I "think" she may have gotten aid if she applied RA. It is very frustrating. We can afford to be full pay, but I would rather not. Everyone makes choices, we decided to allow our D to play her sport with the coach and team she wanted. Not everyone can make that choice.
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 2,900 Senior Member
    This is simply the reality of college admissions, if it were different where would the money come from as you suggest. IOW, it simply cannot be different then what it is today if a college wants to maintain its status and funding.
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 3,055 Senior Member
    edited March 3
    @SJ2727

    Simply, because the question I am asking isn’t about hooks for those who need the most help.

    The question being asked relates to the “anger” around admissions preferences for the mega donors, legacies and full pay students.

    And the call in some quarters for it to be banned.

    Does this view need to be reconsidered when factoring economic reality and benefit to the broader social interests.

    The non super rich alumni who contribute year in and year out to schools to help fund the pools for everyone else. Or the big donors who help build dorms. And full pay students who may get a nod vs non full pay. Their tuitions help keep the lights on and the professors paid.

    Eliminate these and perhaps it gets worse for middle class kids who chase merit and the financial aid they do receive.

    And the low income families who need nearly complete financial help.

    I’m not saying it isn’t hard on middle class families.

    It’s only a question regarding the admissions preferences for the groups that contribute a large part of the money that’s needed.

    Is the anger against them misplaced?

    And as I was one of those “angry” people, perhaps I am missing other important factors. Just wondering out loud.
  • pickpocketpickpocket Registered User Posts: 362 Member
    I grapple with this question as well. I feel indignant when two members of our presidential family were accepted to Ivies with apparently substandard credentials but a huge check.

    Yet I hoped my DS who had very strong (but not exceptional) application was rejected at my Ivy alma mater. I would have greatly increased my annual gift for the rest of my life had they accepted him.

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,498 Senior Member
    The use of legacy preference injects an element of unearned aristocracy into US universities. Private universities can do what they want, of course, but is maintaining an aristocracy of inheritance part of the mission of public universities, 30% of whom use legacy in admission?
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 3,055 Senior Member
    edited March 3
    Interesting. Celebrities can almost fall into another category.

    Especially if they get any kind of deal to attend. If they are full pay and help raise money for the school through increased applications etc. It doesn’t feel good as a parent, but those dollars fund the educations of thousands of kids who couldn’t attend their college without the help.

    So the broader social benefit outweighs both of our kids not getting in ?

    And sorry about your son. Hope he’s doing well somewhere great.

    My d did not even apply to my ivy legacy school. The one she did was a both a grandfather and mother legacy . Still didn’t matter at H.

    And she had a crazy strong application. 4.0 val with high scores etc. But she's doing great. And she will be a legacy at another great school for future grandkids. So it all seems to work out.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,498 Senior Member
    Eliminate these and perhaps it gets worse for middle class kids who chase merit and the financial aid they do receive.

    And the low income families who need nearly complete financial help.

    You appear to be referring to a small number of super selective good financial aid private schools, which few get admitted to so that they can get the good financial aid.

    For most students, what do you think of the nearly 60% of private schools and 30% of public schools that use legacy?
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 3,055 Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus

    Not sure about public schools at all.

    Perhaps mega donors should. Since it’s our tax dollars helping to fund. Anything.to help is welcome. Almost like a wealth tax and I am ok with that tbh.

    Do you know how Public unis pay for financial aid and merit awards?

    Does all money come from govt or do the schools have to raise funds to help support these pools? I know buildings come from muni bond issuance. Not sure on aid.

    Perhaps they need the money to offset shortfalls?

  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 31,172 Senior Member
    I once asked the Dean of Admissions how many privileged kids got in, based on major donations and other special cases where exceptions "might be" made. It came out to less than 1%. A small handful of kids, less than get in from some uber high schools.

    I also worked in development. Average gifts aren't enough to swing a kid in. It's far more than even some 10k or 25k gift. That's not your average donor. And in any given year, how many privileged alums do you expect have 17 year olds applying, much less, have been giving at the level required to have pull?

    The frequent complaint about rigging and "preference" is that the lucky one didn't have the stats the disappointed kids had. But in holistic and with a mega number of top applicants, it's much more than stats...or some titles. Or national awards. Or 500 vol hours anywhere, your name on a publication, or purported "passions." You've probably seen my nagging to get to truly know the targets, not just what you want, not just your hs standing, etc.

    I'm sorry when kids are disappointed. But I've seen, from several persectives, how important that due diligence is. And how much it marks some kids over others. And while legacies can know the college, put forth an app with that knowledge, no adcom is afraid to reject the unsuitable.

    And geo diversity is far more treacherous.

  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 3,055 Senior Member
    edited March 3
    @ucbalumnus

    I don’t know. If they fund merit pools perhaps its good social policy.

    Legacy is mostly hotly debated at the top 50 private’s and lacs. And in my case it was anger towards top ten private and ivy level schools.

    But you make a good point. Do you feel the same about presidents kids, big donors and full pay preferences.

    And pleas note I was red hot against these practices. But have been trying to think about broader social objectives being served.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,498 Senior Member
    @lookingforward

    Re: #11

    You did not mention ordinary legacy (without huge donation). How many are admitted "needing" that preference?
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 3,055 Senior Member
    edited March 3
    @lookingforward and @ucbalumnus


    My current thought is the average legacy kid is actually vitally important.

    These thousands of alumni who make small to mid size annual gifts,over decades, play a big role in helping out large numbers of others without the preference.

    And though tiny percentages of them actually see this investment panning out for their child, the potential is enough to keep them donating.

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,498 Senior Member
    One of the arguments against legacy preference is that it is anti meritocratic.

    Compared to unhooked applicants of similar achievement, legacy applicants are likely to have had a more advantaged upbringing (especially if legacy of a super selective school). Who is likely to be more meritous in this comparison?
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