Loyal readers of our college admissions blog know where we stand on the topic of legacy admission. We have, for many years, been vocal opponents of offering preferential treatment to the progeny of a school’s alumni base. In short, we believe legacy admission to be an anachronistic practice more befitting an aristocracy than our proud American meritocracy. That being said, it’s not like legacy candidates are the only candidates we believe should not have such favor in the admissions process. While we’ve helped many recruited athletes over the years earn admission to the colleges of their dreams, the pool of recruited athletes — contrary to popular belief — is overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly privileged just like the legacy pool. And, frankly, does having a great squash or water polo team really add so much value to an elite university or would said school be better served by earmarking these slots for deserving students who don’t happen to be great at hitting a ball into a wall or playing hole set (that’s water polo slang, if you didn’t already know!).
And it’s not like we’re along in arguing for an end to legacy admission. In a well-argued piece for Inside Higher Ed on the topic of the upcoming Supreme Court case concerning Harvard’s admissions process entitled “It’s Time to End Legacy Admissions,” Alan B. Morrison writes, “Harvard groups together four separate preferences which it refers to as “ALDC,” shorthand for athletic recruits, legacies (relatives of Harvard alumni), the children of faculty and staff, and applicants on the dean’s interest list, who are primarily relatives of major donors. The problem for Harvard is that most of the ALDC admits are white and well-to-do, precisely what the racial preferences that Harvard is defending seek to counteract…Regardless of whether the Supreme Court sustains Harvard’s admission system, the message to all colleges and universities should be clear: if you want to increase racial and socioeconomic diversity, the easiest step you can take is to end legacy preferences.”
Hear, hear! Mr. Morrison is spot on. If America’s elite colleges, including Harvard, really stand for diversity, then it’s high time they stop earmarking so many slots in each incoming class for not only legacy students but also development cases, recruited athletes, the children of professors, and, yes, students on The Z-L=list. Heck, just as legacy admission is an anachronistic practice more befitting an aristocracy than our proud American meritocracy, so too should the Z-list be a thing of the past. Yet we don’t envision the Z-list going away anytime soon.
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