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Can legacy not help, or even hurt, your chances for college admissions?

socaldad2002socaldad2002 1786 replies33 threads Senior Member
Looking at Naviance for my D's HS it looks like legacy status did not help any of the several applicants get in to one of the "lesser ivies', they were all rejected with great stats, and I got to thinking that legacy could hurt your chances if your parents did not contribute any significant monies to their alma mater and/or didn't stay in touch with the college after graduation.

Said another way, if you are legacy and did not "give back' to your college, is that a negative for college admissions? Do they track and consider this?
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Replies to: Can legacy not help, or even hurt, your chances for college admissions?

  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23831 replies17 threads Senior Member
    Some schools only consider legacies in the ED round. It could hurt a student to apply ED if they aren't at the top of the heap.

    I don't think schools give a negative to a legacy whose relatives haven't contributed billions, but it can have people applying ED when they really aren't ED material.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8738 replies82 threads Senior Member
    I agree with the above that at many schools, legacy is only a boost in the ED round. And even then, students still need to be strong applicants. Legacy alone isn't enough.

    I also don't think legacies are negatively targeted if their parents don't donate or aren't involved.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80187 replies720 threads Senior Member
    At super-selective colleges, the bar for "good enough" for a legacy applicant may not be as high as "good enough" for a non-legacy applicant, but the bar is high enough that many legacy applicants will not meet it.

    Given that most outsiders have very incomplete information about how an applicant compares to the entire applicant pool and the college's wants, it can be hard for outsiders to really know what was behind the decision.
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  • rosered55rosered55 4165 replies124 threads Senior Member
    My younger daughter applied RD to a very selective university for which she was a "nobody gave big donations" legacy. (Her dad and two of four grandparents, my parents, were graduates of the university.) She was accepted but chose to go elsewhere. One of her cousins, same grandparents, different parents (obviously), applied and was waitlisted. I think the results probably had little to do with the legacy status, one way or the other.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 1894 replies31 threads Senior Member
    Quite a few schools don't take it into account at all, so it certainly can "not help" your chances. But I doubt it would ever actively hurt an application.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80187 replies720 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    About 60% of private non-profit colleges and about 30% of public colleges in the US consider legacy.

    No California public college considers legacy (may be of interest to the OP based on user name).
    edited February 2019
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  • mathmommathmom 32775 replies160 threads Senior Member
    Very few school don't allow legacy to give you a little nudge, but there are a handful. There are also some schools that are quite open that it only helps if you apply ED. There may be others that act that way, but don't say it explicitly.

    Anecdotally in my family I've seen that only truly stellar candidates got into Harvard even as double legacies. (One out of three.) And of the rejectees one was number 2 in a large class and the other was in the top 5%. Parents donated regularly but less than $200 a year. At our high school the legacies who get into top schools, also get into other similarly ranked schools.
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  • lostaccountlostaccount 5331 replies90 threads Senior Member
    I've known quite a few students who ended up at the school where they are legacies and were denied entry to other similarly highly ranked schools-in most instances, the student didn't apply ED because they didn't actually have the legacy school as their first choice. But they were accepted in RD.
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  • blossomblossom 10162 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Most people who get rejected from these schools have "great stats". That's what a 6% or 8% or even 12% admissions rate means- that 94% or 92% or 88% of applicants are going to be rejected. In most people's minds, that means that the rejected ones have modest scores, B averages, and watch TV in their spare time.

    Not so. This is what parents need to wrap their minds around- the daunting odds. At my last college reunion, there was MUCH talk about whether legacy helps and if so how much. The bottom line was that absent one of the other significant accomplishments that Adcom's are looking for, being a legacy was just one more line to fill out on the application. The legacy boost appears to be extremely modest; confined to the early round, and is NOT going to get your typical bright, high stats but nothing else kid admitted to a college where they were likely to be rejected anyway.

    In one of my kids HS classes, a kid who was a multi-generational Harvard legacy (a named chair in the sciences no less- so generous AND legacy) refused to apply to Harvard to the chagrin of his family. He was accepted to Princeton early- again, the chagrin of his family but no surprise to any of the kids or teachers. By all accounts- a brilliant student, kind and modest, accomplished musician. One of these "any college would want this kid" type of student. No connection to Princeton at all.

    I think kids need help from the adults in their lives to figure out "am I a viable candidate or am I counting on Legacy to tip me in". If they are NOT a viable candidate- all things being equal- better to know that upfront. And yes- if you are counting on Legacy- apply early where at least Penn states upfront "if you are a legacy and do not apply early we do not consider it in the application process".
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80187 replies720 threads Senior Member
    mathmom wrote:
    Very few school don't allow legacy to give you a little nudge, but there are a handful.

    It is more than "very few" that do not consider legacy.

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-admissions/2123088-percentage-of-colleges-that-use-legacy-in-admissions.html
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  • bopperbopper 14297 replies101 threadsForum Champion CWRU Forum Champion
    To see if a college considers legacy, look at the college's Common Data Set in Section C7, "Alumni/ae relation"
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    I think the OP’s premisecis that it can somehow hurt you. That is overthinking... I don’t think that happens. Unless maybe the applicant writes an arrogant, entitled supplement or something related to legacy status. It can be mentioned without assuming it will give a boost/get you in.

    Many colleges give a “courtesy waitlist” to legacies if they don’t let them in. One of my kids got one (kid had 3 grandparents, both parents, and 3 aunts/uncles who were alum).
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15253 replies1033 threads Senior Member
    Some say that legacy may help acceptance but hurts the chances for merit aid, if that college offers merit aid.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80187 replies720 threads Senior Member
    Some say that legacy may help acceptance but hurts the chances for merit aid, if that college offers merit aid.

    If the legacy applicant were admitted needing a legacy boost, s/he would be in the lower part of the range of academic achievement among the admits. In addition, as a legacy, s/he may be assumed to already have a high level of interest, while s/he is less likely to have other admission offers at more attractive schools. So offering a merit scholarship, ordinarily used to attract admits in the upper part of the range to matriculate to this school instead of others that they are likely to be able to choose from, would not make sense for a legacy admit who needed a legacy boost.
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  • agb2002agb2002 1 replies0 threads New Member
    I have also wondered whether legacy status at a particular university will hurt my daughter's chances when applying to other schools...my daughter will be applying to schools this fall similarly competitive (top LACs) to the school both my wife and I went to (along with her grandfather). Will schools hold that against her, assuming it is more likely she would attend where my wife and I attended especially as they consider their yield stats? I have debated not reporting on the common application where my wife and I attended to avoid this situation. Maybe that is overthinking it.
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  • Faulkner1897Faulkner1897 518 replies7 threads Member
    @agb2002 - FYI, on the common app, there is a question about education level of the parent(s). If the parents attended a college/university, even if they did not complete, the name of the college/university is required. No getting around this.
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  • MarianMarian 13230 replies83 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    My daughter attended a selective-entry IB program at a public high school. Legacies predominated among the ED admits to selective colleges in her year (and she was one of them). I doubt that any of the parents were big donors. Most of us didn't have that kind of money.

    It's probably better not to overthink this.
    edited February 2019
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  • higgins2013higgins2013 702 replies25 threads Member
    "Legacy plus BIG donation" certainly helps, not just at Ivies, but also at other "top prestige" schools. That's why there are kids who rank in bottom-quartile, aren't recruited athletes or URMs, and yet still accepted, even for Early Decision.
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  • JHSJHS 18503 replies72 threads Senior Member
    One of these weekends, if I have a day free, I will analyze carefully the Hyperselective U. reunion book I recently received, which has a lot of information about where people's kids went to college. Not a scientific sample, of course -- only about 1/3 of the class provided any information, and lots of people didn't provide any information about children (mostly if they didn't have any), or didn't provide college information about children (often because their kids were not yet college age when they answered the questionnaire).

    My impression just thumbing through it is: (a) Relatively few of the children of my classmates went to our college, but I'm sure the percentage that did is higher than the college's average admission rate, and that's assuming every eligible kid applied. (b) Among the families where a child attended our college, in the vast majority of them only one child did, not multiple children. (c) Lots of people who have given a lot of money have children who did not attend our college, although some of the children who did go there came from families with a track re of giving. (d) The group that seems to have had the best success with getting their children accepted is high school and college teachers! They are not that big a percentage of the class, especially the high school teachers, but they are a big percentage of the parents of successful legacy applicants.
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  • northwestynorthwesty 3586 replies9 threads Senior Member
    edited March 2019
    Legacy never hurts.

    How much it helps a particular kid will vary a lot.

    Not all school legacy policies are equal.

    Penn considers grandkids legacies. Harvard doesn't. Penn says grad, law, biz and med school diplomas are good to make the kids legacies for undergrad admissions. Only Harvard College degrees count for Harvard undergrad. If you want legacy treatment at Penn, you have to apply ED (which itself provides a benefit). So guess what -- Penn has a lot of legacies!!

    Duke cuts legacy applicants a bigger break than Brown does. Notre Dame is 20-25% legacy year after year -- about double the share you see at other top schools. At UVA, you can only get legacy treatment if you are an out-of-state applicant. But public Ivy UCLA and UCB don't do legacy at all. Etc. etc. etc. etc.

    Some schools only give legacy treatment if the parents are involved in the school (including regular but modest donations). At most schools, legacy admissions is more about enrolling kids whose parents are likely to be able to full pay the tuition and won't need fin aid.

    Major donations are always good. But it doesn't really matter if the major donor parents are alums or not. So long as the money is green, the money is green. Jared Kushner's dad didn't go to Harvard after all.

    And, most important, some legacy applicants are stronger students than others.

    At most selective schools, the majority of legacy applicants still get rejected. But legacy applicants overall do much better (pound for pound) than similar non-legacy applicants. But typically not as as good as recruited athletes applicants or URM applicants do.
    edited March 2019
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