Like many policies of yesteryear, legacy admissions become uglier the more you take a closer look at them. A few decades ago, the proportion of older students in the best schools was sometimes higher than it is today. But admission rates at these institutions have fallen much faster than the percentage of alumni. “If you take a typical Ivy League school, maybe 20 or 30 years ago, they could take two-thirds of the inherited candidates. Now they could accept a third of the former candidates. At the same time, however, their overall acceptance rate probably dropped from 20-25% to 5-10%. So, proportionally, it`s even more beneficial to be a legacy,” Dan Golden, an investigative reporter, told The New Yorker. A federal lawsuit last year over admissions practices at Harvard University focused on how the school`s affirmative action policy might have affected Asian American applicants. This case is still being heard by a judge. But in the process, striking numbers were revealed. Between 2010 and 2015, the admission rate for former Harvard candidates was over 33 percent.
It was 6% for non-legacies. More than 20% of white applicants admitted to school during this period were older students. In 1990, the OCR found that Harvard had admitted bequests twice as often as other applicants, that in several cases inheritance status was “the decisive or decisive favor” in the decision to admit a candidate, and that inherited preferences explain why 17.4 percent of white applicants were admitted, compared to only 13.2 percent of Asian American applicants in the previous decade. The ROC also found that, on average, legacies were rated lower than candidates who were neither legacies nor athletes in all major categories (other than athletic ability) in which candidates were assessed.  A 1992 survey found that of the seventy-five top universities in the U.S. ranking. News & World Report, only one (the California Institute of Technology) had no inherited preference; The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has also confirmed that it does not practice legacy approvals.  Inherited preferences were also almost ubiquitous among the hundred high-ranking liberal arts colleges. The only liberal arts college in the top hundred that explicitly said it didn`t use inherited preferences was Berea.
Notably, Johns Hopkins University said in 2014 that it would end legacy practices, and in 2021, Amherst College also ended legacy practices.   A study of thirty elite colleges found that elementary school students are surprisingly 45% more likely to enter a highly selective college or university than a non-inherited college or university. Secondary bequests receive a smaller amount of 13%. One study found that an inheritance in the entry value is equivalent to a gain of 160 points on the SAT. But perhaps people shouldn`t be so quick to dismiss concerns about legacy approvals. According to Richard D. Kahlenberg, editor of a new book titled Affirmative Action for the Rich: Legacy Preferences in College Admissions, legacy admissions are bad policy — and potentially unconstitutional. The main justification given by colleges is financial: they tend to believe that giving an advantage to inheritance candidates helps them earn donations from alumni. For example, at Harvard, a committee formed in 2017 to evaluate potential improvements to the admissions process concluded that eliminating the school`s inherited preference could jeopardize the “generous financial support” that is “essential to Harvard`s position as a leading university” and funds financial support. There is no doubt that inherited schools expect higher financial contributions in exchange for the honor of the inheritance.
However, a large study found that schools that grant legacy status did not have a fundraising advantage over schools that did not. In fact, two of the top eight U.S. schools with the largest endowments are MIT ($27 billion) and Texas A&M ($13.5 billion), which banned bequests more than a decade ago. A college`s decision to abolish legacy admissions may upset some former students. It could sometimes even lead some to refuse a donation or discourage their children from applying, even if the evidence for such effects is very thin. Universities that have abolished affirmative action for the children of alumni have not suffered. Neither their enrolment nor their donations have dropped. You did the right thing. More universities must follow suit and end a practice that is increasingly recognized as doing far more harm than good. If, as many legal experts expect, the Supreme Court decides to ban the consideration of student race in college admissions, it will likely impact inherited preferences that favor predominantly white students. While colleges are required to implement racially neutral admissions policies, they may also be forced to abandon practices — such as old preferences — that discriminate against students from underrepresented minority groups.
Given that admission to some colleges is more competitive than ever – several of them announced record adoption rates last week – it`s clear that the preference for bequests benefits alumni and their children. But what does this tradition, extremely rare outside the United States, mean for colleges? And in this context, what prevents them from getting rid of a policy that gives some applicants an automatic advantage solely on the basis of their ancestry? Schools differ in the extent to which they extend inherited preferences, with some schools granting this favor only to children of former undergraduates, while other schools grant this favor to children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews of former undergraduate and graduate students.  A 2005 analysis of 180,000 student records from nineteen selected colleges and universities found that, within a certain SAT score range, a candidate`s chances of admission increased by 19.7 percentage points.  However, political realities in Congress and in many states present difficult ways to end the old college admissions policy. In addition, many university administrations, fearful of losing alumni donations, are resisting calls to end the practice despite growing opposition from their students. Ending legacy admission is essential to promoting equity and access to higher education for first-generation students, low-income students and BIPOC students so that they can achieve their educational and professional dreams – dreams that should not be reserved for a few students selected on the basis of their income. their family ties or their closeness to whiteness. Proponents of the inheritance preference point out that at Harvard and other schools across the country, the student body — and therefore the alumni pool — has become more diverse over time. This means that the composition of the elderly population is also diversifying.
At Harvard, evidence from the lawsuit showed that about 80 percent of the old recordings in the class of 2014 were white, while only 60 percent of the legacies in the class of 2019 were white. Would ending inheritance preference mean climbing the ladder in front of a more diverse group of students who could benefit from their legacy status? For nearly a century, many admissions officials at U.S. colleges and universities have given preferential treatment to the children of alumni. In this regard, Yale is an interesting case study. The school currently gives the children of former students a boost on admission, but from 1980 to 2010, the percentage of first-year students with a parent who also participated dropped from 24 percent to 13 percent. But over the same period, the total number of alumni donations increased. (Yale did not provide me with complete annual data on alumni giving from 1980 to 2010, nor did it comment on trends in total giving during that period.) One could argue that reducing the percentage of registered inheritances would indeed have prevented Yale from making even more money than it did, but the fact is that the results were far from catastrophic financially. Adjusted for inflation, the Yale Foundation, funded in part by alumni donations, has grown from just under $2 billion in 1980 to more than $16 billion in 2010, expressed in 2010 dollars.