How Much Does Legacy Status Matter?
Most college admissions officers will state that legacy status is only a tiny factor in making the final admissions decision. You'll often hear that in a borderline case legacy status might tip an admissions decision in the student's favor.
The reality, however, is that legacy status can be quite important. In some Ivy League schools, studies have shown that legacy students are twice as likely to be admitted as students without legacy status.
Why Does Legacy Status Matter?
One word: Money. Here's a typical scenario -- a graduate from Prestigious University gives $1,000 a year to the school's annual fund. Now imagine that the graduate's child applies to Prestigious University. If the school rejects the legacy student, the parent's good will is likely to evaporate, as will the $1,000 a year in gifts. The scenario is even more problematic if the graduate is wealthy and a prospect for giving the school $1,000,000.
When multiple members of a family attend the same college or university, the loyalty to the school is often amplified, as are the gifts. When Junior is rejected from the school that Mom or Dad attended, anger and hard feelings can make the likelihood of future donations much less.
A Final Word
When you don't have legacy status, it's easy to feel angry and hopeless in the face of the unfair preferential treatment some students receive. Some lawmakers are even trying to make legacy admissions illegal, for they do, in fact, result in less qualified students being admitted over more qualified students.
If there's any comfort to be found in this practice, it's that the great majority of the applicant pool does not have legacy status. Yes, a few students have an unfair advantage, but the typical applicant's odds of being admitted change very little whether or not a school gives preference to legacy students.