As loyal readers of our college admissions blog know well, we’ve been calling for an end to the practice of legacy admission for many years. In short, we believe offering preferential treatment to the progeny of a school’s alumni base is an anachronistic practice more befitting an aristocracy — not our American meritocracy. In fact, the entire practice of offering preferential treatment to legacy candidates creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of exclusion — exclusion of low and middle-income students, of first-generation college students, of underrepresented minorities. And why? Because while the legacy pool is becoming more diverse as the years pass, it’s still overwhelmingly white and it’s still overwhelmingly wealthy.
And while we’re quite pleased that some colleges — like Johns Hopkins University and Amherst College — have in recent months announced they will no longer consider legacy status in their admissions decision-making, there is more work that must be done. This practice must be ridded out of the admissions process at all of our nation’s universities. So when a student publishes an op-ed calling out the hypocrisy of legacy admissions, we are proud to shine a spotlight on such writing. We are proud to give them a pat on the back and applaud their position.
Which leads us to a recent op-ed published in The Stanford Daily by Sophie Callcott entitled “The bias of legacy and athlete admissions.” In the opinion piece, Ms. Callcott writes, “According to the data Stanford submitted to the California state legislature in June of 2020, 16.2% of the class of 2023 were the children of Stanford graduates, and 1.5% of the class had no legacy status but had a record of family philanthropy noted in their file. These figures together are shockingly close to the composition of first-generation students in that same class, 18.5%. That year, Stanford’s admissions rate hit a record low of 4.34%. This past year, the class of 2025 hit another record low admissions rate of 3.95%. Former Stanford President John Hennessy stated in 2013 that the ‘admissions rate for [legacy students] is two or three times higher than the general population.’ While Stanford hasn’t recently confirmed the accuracy of this multiplier for legacy students, these students still compose a significant portion of their classes. Yes, ultimately two or three times higher than 3.95 is not that large. When we’re working with numbers this small, however, any boost counts. In a pool of academically qualified applicants, the children of Stanford alumni get possibly admissions-winning boosts.”
They sure do! And it’s high time Stanford — and all of America’s universities — cease the anachronistic practice of offering preferential treatment to the children and grandchildren of alumni. It’s a practice that perpetuates a vicious cycle. It’s a practice that needs to end sooner rather than later. Hey hey, ho ho. Legacy admission has got to go!
You are permitted to use www.ivycoach.com (including the content of the Blog) for your personal, non-commercial use only. You must not copy, download, print, or otherwise distribute the content on our site without the prior written consent of Ivy Coach, Inc.