When does legacy status of a college applicant matter? If a student has subpar SATs, poor grades, bad teacher letters or recommendations, and no special talent but the student’s uncle happened to go to the university, will the student’s uncle really be able to help? At some colleges, aunts and uncles do count as a type of legacy, though they don’t carry the same weight as parents. At Stanford University, as an example, only parents count as legacies and it’s better if they have graduated from the undergraduate college. The amount of money the relative donated and/or the frequency of donations certainly matter as well. College admissions counselors can see that data! A Harvard researcher, Michael Hurwitz, recently confirmed the finding that parents carry more weight than other relatives in legacy admissions. We could have told him that before he ran his regression analyses in SPSS!
But Mr. Hurwitz also found in his study that students with strong SAT or ACT scores benefit more from legacy status in the college admissions process than those students who are legacy with mediocre or less than mediocre test scores. According to the “Chronicle of Higher Education,” “That finding, Mr. Hurwitz says, seems in line with colleges’ argument that legacy status matters the most in deciding between two highly-qualified candidates. ‘It’s easier to justify nudging the student if they’re really strong academically,’ he says.”