Johns Hopkins Should Release Legacy Data in Years to Come

President Ronald Reagan used to like to say, “Trust, but verify.” We trust that Johns Hopkins eliminated legacy admission. But we wish to verify.

Earlier this week, we reported on the public announcement by Johns Hopkins University that legacy admissions would be no more at the Baltimore, Maryland-based schools. As longtime advocates of eliminating the practice of offering preferential treatment to the progeny of alumni, we saluted Johns Hopkins for joining the ranks of MIT and Caltech in officially not considering legacy status in admissions. And we’re still saluting Johns Hopkins for this historic announcement. But a reader of our college admissions blog wrote in to us a bit skeptical of JHU’s announcement and while we are hopeful JHU is telling it like it is, we agree with this reader and must admit, while we remain hopeful, we too have a touch of skepticism. So what did this reader write in?

We Salute JHU’s Elimination of Legacy Admission, But Call for Release of Data

He wrote, “Love Ivy Coach but you took the Vandy kid to task for lazy reporting and you are giving [The Washington Post] a pass. That article was plenty lazy as well. Extraordinarily vague as to what the ‘steps’ were that reduced the legacy impact. The numbers cited didn’t show anything without some data on the overall number of legacy applicants. Absent that, this could be dismissed as just virtue signaling in the face of declining alumni interest.” He’s right. Absent the percentage of legacy admits to the Classes of 2024, 2025, 2026, 2027, and so on, there’s no way to hold Johns Hopkins accountable for their promise to no longer offer preferential treatment to legacies. And in light of the fact that JHU publicly announced the elimination of legacy admissions at the school, we highly doubt the school will release the percentage of legacy admits along with the percentage of underrepresented minorities, low-income students, first-generation college students, etc. in future press releases about their admitted students.

So how are we to know if Johns Hopkins is telling the truth? How are we to know if they do offer preferential treatment to the child of a legacy? If Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a grandchild coming up in the future, will Johns Hopkins really not offer this student — irrespective of his or her standing — admission? Please. We do hope Johns Hopkins is telling the truth. We hope this is not just some marketing gimmick to come across as all high and mighty. We want Johns Hopkins to be among the trailblazers, blazing a trail for a future that does not offer preferential treatment to the progeny of legacies. Ours should be a meritocracy — not an aristocracy — and legacy admission has no place in American elite education.

We Don’t Care Why JHU Eliminated Legacy Admissions, We Just Want to Make Sure It’s Gone

Another reader wrote in, “Lol. What a clever marketing gimmick. JHU has had terrible alum support for years, so shooting legacy admissions is a very low risk strategy for them and it also generates a lot of positive press from the woke press.” To this reader, we say we hope it’s not a marketing gimmick. And who cares what led JHU to drop legacy admission? Who cares if they dropped the practice because the school doesn’t generate tons of annual alumni donations. Who cares if they dropped the practice because they have the cushion of the greatest college donor of all, Mayor Bloomberg. We refuse to judge JHU for doing the right thing. All that matters is that they drop the practice and we just want to verify that such a practice is no longer in place in the years to come at JHU. Because it’s not like college admissions offices don’t lie — they do. As but one example, just about every elite college that claims to be need-blind in admissions isn’t truly need-blind. Rather, they’re need-aware.

Johns Hopkins University, we hereby call on your admissions office to release data in the years to come — including this coming Regular Decision cycle for the Class of 2024 — on the percentage of admits in each incoming class that are legacies. Absent this simple to publish data, your announcement may not be worth the paper it’s written on. Reporting this data will not be an endorsement of legacy admission. Rather, it will be your proof of concept — that legacy admission isn’t necessary to create a wonderfully diverse, intellectually curious class of future movers and shakers.

 
 

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