The Ivy Coach Daily

October 21, 2021

Amherst College Axes Legacy Admission

Amherst has done away with legacy admission (photo credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel).

For years, we at Ivy Coach have been calling for an end to legacy admission from atop our soapbox in elite college admissions. We believe offering preferential treatment to the children and grandchildren of alumni is an anachronistic practice that has no place in our twenty-first century American meritocracy. It’s why we cheered on Johns Hopkins University when in January 2020 the school announced, thanks to the generosity of Michael Bloomberg, that legacy status would no longer be a consideration in JHU’s admissions process. And it’s why we cheer today when Amherst College, one of our nation’s finest liberal arts colleges, announced the elimination of legacy admission, which seems to take effect immediately. Hey hey, ho ho. Legacy admission has got to go.

Amherst Broadens Access with Elimination of Legacy Admission

As Melissa Korn reports for The Wall Street Journal in a piece entitled “Amherst College Drops Admissions Advantage for Children of Alumni,” “Amherst College is abandoning its policy of giving preference to applicants whose parents attended the Massachusetts liberal-arts school, placing it among the first elite private colleges to ditch legacy admissions. Selective schools like Amherst have been under intense scrutiny in recent years for putting a thumb on the scale for legacy applicants, with critics arguing the programs do little more than cement the privilege of students, and leave fewer slots for applicants from less-represented backgrounds. ’We’re doing what we can to examine where the barriers are and change what we can change’ as the school pushes forward on efforts to broaden access, said Amherst President Biddy Martin.”

Amherst Joins JHU, MIT, Caltech in Stance Against Legacy Admission

We salute Amherst College’s administrators for showing the door to legacy admission and joining the small group of elite universities — Johns Hopkins, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the California Institute of Technology — that will not consider legacy status in admissions. That being said, President Ronald Reagan knew what he was talking about when he said, “Trust, but verify.” We trust that Amherst will no longer consider legacy status in admission. But we’d like the school to show rather than tell. In mid-December when Amherst releases Early Decision results and in the spring when the school releases Regular Decision results, we hereby call on the admissions staff to release the percentage of students admitted who are the sons, daughters, and/or grandchildren of Amherst alumni. We want to make sure these numbers really do drop from previous years.

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