The Fresh Look at Legacy Admission

Johns Hopkins University has now not only publicly announced they’ll no longer consider legacy status in admissions but they’ve shared data to support their much celebrated new stance.

We’ve been writing a lot about legacy admission of late. If you’re wondering why we’ve been so focused on the practice these past few weeks, it’s because we’ve been attacking the practice of offering preferential treatment to the progeny of alumni for years but it seems we’re no longer a one-man band trying to stop it in its tracks. In fairness, Richard Kahlenberg of The Century Foundation has vocally opposed the practice as long as we have but it’s high time our little duet becomes a chorus.

The Legacy Admission Advantage

In a piece out today for The Wall Street Journal entitled “Legacy Preference Gets Fresh Look Following College-Admissions Scandal,” Douglas Belkin writes about legacy admission at America’s colleges — and shares a little bit about the history of the practice. He writes about how legacy applicants to Harvard are five-times as likely to get in as are non-legacies. He writes about how the legacy advantage is the equivalent of a 160-point bump on the SAT, according to a study by a Princeton sociologist. He writes about how some students at Duke University and Brown University are trying to end legacy admissions.

Johns Hopkins Publicly Discloses the Percentage of Legacy Admits in 2019

In short, Belkin has written nothing our readers don’t already know about legacy admission. That is until he includes a quote from David Phillips, the vice provost for admissions and financial aid at Johns Hopkins University. As Belkin writes, “Last month, Johns Hopkins said it had been phasing out legacy preference over the last five years. Legacy admissions fell to 3% of students in 2019 from 13% in 2009, while the number of students from poor families more than doubled, said David Phillips.”

A Salute to Johns Hopkins for Answering Our Call to Release Legacy Admissions Data

As our readers may remember, we saluted Johns Hopkins University for publicly announcing the end to the practice of legacy admissions but we called for the school to release data on the percentage of legacies admitted this year and in the years to come. After all, we believe in the words of President Ronald Reagan when he said, “Trust, but verify.” We are mighty glad to see that Mr. Phillips of Johns Hopkins is speaking publicly about the drop in legacy admits. A 10% drop — to 3% 2019 from 13% in 2009 — is indeed significant and it is cause for applause.

Ivy Coach salutes Johns Hopkins University’s vice provost for admissions and financial aid, David Phillips, for not only announcing the end to an anachronistic practice at one of America’s elite universities but for making the data available for public consumption. May other American universities soon follow Johns Hopkins’ — and Mr. Phillips’ — lead.


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