Ivy League Admission and Legacy

Ivy League admission and legacy. Parents often say to us that their student is a legacy at an Ivy League college. And that’s great to hear because our goal is to get our students into highly competitive colleges like those in the Ivy League and legacy status certainly aids a student’s chances! But then we ask a question or two that throws the parents for a curveball.

Legacy Status and Ivy League Admission, Ivy League Legacy Admissions, Ivy League and Legacy Candidacy

The legacy card at most highly selective colleges like in the Ivy League has a narrower definition than you might think.

If the student is applying to Columbia, we might ask a father, “Did either you or your wife go to Columbia?” Often, they answer something like, “Yes, my wife did.” Great! We follow that up with, “Did she attend as an undergraduate?” Often, they answer something like, “No. She attended a master’s program at Columbia. But she has a degree from Columbia so that makes our son a legacy candidate, right?” Unfortunately, it just isn’t so.

At the vast majority of highly competitive colleges, legacy candidates are the children of graduates of the undergraduate institution. They are not the children of graduates of the graduate programs. They are not the nieces and nephews or cousins of graduates of the undergraduate institution. And why does only undergrad typically count for legacies? Well, people donate to their undergraduate alma mater much more so than they do to their graduate school alma mater. They take pride in the college where they spent their undergraduate years.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t put on your application that your grandfather and great-grandfather attended the university as well? No, you should put it on. It’ll show your family’s history at the university. You can even add an aunt or an uncle. And especially a sibling! But, ultimately, it’ll come down to the parents. Now keep in mind we’re talking about this as a general rule of thumb. If your grandfather happened to be a major donor…then that’s another card entirely!

Check out our posts on Legacy College Admissions and Legacy Applicants. Also, let us know your thoughts on legacy admission by posting below!


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1 Comment

  • mamank says:

    I always get confused with the semantics of the ‘affirmative action’ debate. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’ve never had to deal with an oppressive affirmate action structure. I guess we just did things different in Bulldawg Country.It has probably changed since 1999, but back in the day the University of Georgia’s ‘affirmative action’ policy was applied only to borderline cases. There were a number of ’rounds’ in which GPA and standardized test scores were taken into consideration. Those with very high marks in either of these categories were in the door on merit alone. When you got to a lower round, those GPA’s and test scores that were -just- good enough to make the school, there were a lot of ‘ties.’ The tiebreakers came in a 14 point system. Gender and race were given a certain amount of points, but so were certain extracurricular activites, legacy status, and if you came from a high school in a ‘rural’ area. Those who got the most points got in over the ones with less points. Remember that this system only applied to borderline GPA’s and test scores, where there was also a far larger pool of applicants. When we were sued over our ‘affirmative action’ policy by two white girls from Atlanta, no one (to my knowledge) ever brought up that those girls were trying to get in with mediocre GPA’s and test scores, and were competing with about 2000+ other applicants for a limited number of slots.Again, I can only speak for when I was there and working with and around UGA, but our minority recruitment focused mainly on getting minorities to apply in greater numbers. Most that did apply got in on merit alone. Unfortunately, many decided not to attend UGA, which is a problem the University deals with to this day.But if there was a quota system in place, I was never aware of it.There was no real recruitment problem with men, but we did have a retention problem (in my experience anyway). I have already put my $0.02 in about why I think that is.Strange enough, the guys I always spoke with never really had a problem with the 55-45 ratio of women to men.

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