The Ivy Coach Daily

June 11, 2024

Stanford University Legacy Admission: Everything You Need to Know

Stanford Legacy, Legacies at Stanford, Admission to Stanford
Stanford, like many highly selective universities, offers preferential treatment to legacy applicants (photo credit: King of Hearts).

Previously Published on July 7, 2020:

Much like other elite private institutions of its caliber, Stanford University has faced widespread scrutiny for the admission boost it gives to legacy applicants. With a bill to prohibit this admission boost to legacy and donor applicants making its way through the California legislature, Stanford legacies may soon have to kiss their unfair advantage goodbye. We at Ivy Coach have long opposed the use of a legacy admissions preference in elite college admissions, but we still think it is worth asking: how does Stanford’s legacy preference work, and why should it be phased out?

Stanford University Legacy Admission Preference

Many misconceptions swirl around Stanford’s legacy admissions preference. For example, many people don’t know that legacies only receive an admissions boost in the Restrictive Early Action round. Once the Regular Decision round rolls around, Stanford’s applicant pool is saturated with far more competitive applicants from diverse backgrounds who admissions officers highly prize, such as first generation students, low-income students, underrepresented minority students, etc. The legacy admissions boost is neutralized by these equally competitive applications.

Still, the practice is alive and well at Stanford. According to The Stanford Daily, 13.8% of the Class of 2026 is composed of the children of alumni. It might sound like a small proportion, but when Stanford’s acceptance rates have dwindled to the 3-4% range in recent years, every seat in an incoming class counts. What’s more, Stanford legacies overwhelmingly skew toward the upper end of income distributions. The New York Times went as far to say that legacy preferences are tantamount to the creation of a wealthiness criteria in elite admissions.

Is the Last Gasp of Legacy Preference at Stanford Upon Us?

Assembly Bill (AB) 1780 could spell the end of legacy and donor preference at Stanford and other private Californian institutions that still use the practice, such as the University of Southern California. The bill comes in the wake of widespread student activism on Stanford’s campus to get rid of legacy admissions, which many view as indefensible now that Affirmative Action is (ostensibly!) no longer part of elite admissions processes. The bill need only pass the California State Senate and be signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom to become the law of the land in the Golden State. Some have called upon Stanford to preemptively phase out legacy admissions to give the appearance of being on the right side of history.

The Ivy Coach Solution to Stanford’s Legacy Admission Woes

We at Ivy Coach believe that legacy admission gives the most privileged students an unfair advantage in Stanford’s highly competitive admissions game, and we welcome AB 1780, with some reservations. As it stands right now, the bill would outlaw the admission boost given to the children of donors along with legacy preference. We fear that this approach throws out the baby with the bathwater! Donors to Stanford, as is the case with all highly selective universities, subsidize the attendance costs of highly coveted low-income students with their donations. Phasing out the boost given to “development” cases could jeopardize Stanford’s generous financial aid program.

We believe AB 1780 should be amended to make an exception for the children of major donors. These admits make up a statistically insignificant proportion of each incoming cohort, but ensure Stanford’s accessibility to large swathes of low-income and first generation applicants. Giving an admissions boost to the children of alumni, on the other hand, produces no such positive externalities, and we welcome the imminent end of the practice.

How Ivy Coach Helps Non-Legacies Get Into Stanford

The edge given to Early Action round applicants at Stanford can be reaped by everyone, not just legacy applicants! That’s why Ivy Coach has a 78% acceptance rate to Stanford for our package clients over the past five years. And all of our students apply Early.

If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s assistance with your child’s case for admission to Stanford, directly with Ivy Coach’s Jose Magaña, a former Stanford admissions officer, fill out our complimentary consultation form, and we’ll be in touch.

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