Stanford Legacies

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

As a direct result of the Varsity Blues scandal, California state legislators passed a bill that was signed into law that requires California-based universities to submit data to the state on their admission of legacy students. Specifically, these schools must include the number of applicants who both did and did not meet the institution’s standards applying to all applicants but nonetheless earned admission as well as the number of these applicants who ended up matriculating to the university. At Stanford University, a school that historically doesn’t love releasing its admissions statistics to the public, the legacy numbers for the Class of 2023 released to the state are unsurprising and rather similar to the numbers at its peer institutions, including Ivy League universities.

Stanford Releases Legacy Data for the Class of 2023

As Scott Jaschik reports for Inside Higher Ed in a piece entitled “A Little More Information on Legacy Applicants,” “‘In the undergraduate Class of 2023, which was admitted for fall 2019 entrance, 16.2 percent of the enrolling class (302 admitted students and 276 matriculating students) were the children of Stanford graduates,’ the university told state legislators. ‘For some of these students, their admission files also noted a history of philanthropy. An additional 1.5 percent of the enrolling class (34 admitted students and 26 matriculating students) had no legacy affiliation with Stanford, but their admission files noted a history of philanthropy. Together, those with either of these two characteristics totaled 302 students in the enrolling class, representing 17.8 percent of our 1,701 entering students.’ The university said of its policies, ‘With respect to philanthropy, Stanford does not document in admission files the donor status of all applicants’ families. However, some applicants’ files may contain a notation about their family’s giving. In the large majority of these cases, the parents of the applicants are also graduates of Stanford.'”

Stanford Acknowledges Notating Major Donations in Applicant Files

We find it rather amusing that Stanford reported to state legislators, “Stanford does not document in admission files the donor status of all applicants’ families. However, some applicants’ files may contain a notation about their family’s giving.” Translation: small donations aren’t recorded in admissions files, but when the applicant’s parents or grandparents — who went to the school — donate major loot, we put a little note in their file. Hey, at least Stanford is being candid! While we don’t applaud the policy and while we are against the practice of legacy admission altogether, a practice we might add that is certainly not unique to Stanford, we must respect their candor.

 
 

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