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The Ivy Coach Daily

November 17, 2020

Abolishing Legacy Preference

The history of legacy admission is a history filled with discrimination (photo credit: Sach1tb).

As our loyal readers know all too well, we at Ivy Coach are ardent supporters of ending the practice of legacy admission. Legacy admission, the practice of offering preferential treatment in admissions to the children and grandchildren of a university’s alumni base, is an anachronism in our post-Trump administration America. When 20% of a school’s Early Decision admits are the children or grandchildren of alumni, well, it means there’s a problem. And that statistic is typical at many of our nation’s top universities. Yet it’s not legacy admission that’s under attack before our courts. Rather, it’s Affirmative Action — or the practice of offering preferential treatment to applicants based on the consideration of their race.

Legacy Admissions Currently Favors White, Wealthy Students

But just as our loyal readers know that we’ve got our opinions about hot topics in college admissions which we are never shy about sharing, they also know we will share arguments from the other side that counter our stance. On that note, in a recent op-ed for The Cornell Daily Sun entitled “Abolish Legacy Preference in College Admissions,” Wendy Wang argues, “Legacy preference is one of the few policies that overtly benefit generally wealthy and white students, who are already among the most privileged when it comes to college admissions.”

But The Times They Are A-Changin’

We don’t disagree. Ms. Wang is absolutely correct when she asserts that the legacy pool is overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly wealthy and we fully back so many of her important points. But as Bob Dylan sang it, “The times they are a-changin’.” Incoming classes at our nation’s elite universities have been quite diverse now for well over a generation. These classes have been proudly filled with many students from low-income backgrounds. They’ve been proudly filled with many students who are underrepresented minorities. In many instances, they’ve been proudly filled with many students who are both low-income and underrepresented minorities. So as we consider abolishing legacy admission, let us also recognize that we’d be eliminating offering preferential treatment to the children of alumni just as the children of these diverse graduates are coming of age and applying to their parents’ alma maters.

The irony is not lost on us. We imagine it’s not lost on you either.

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