Legacies and College Admissions

Does being a legacy of the college you are applying to provide you an edge in being accepted to that higher education institution? The short answer is, it absolutely may help, and with some colleges, it may be a major factor.

What Does Being a College Legacy Mean?

If a relative in your family attended a certain college and you are applying to that college, you are considered a legacy of that particular institution.

Are All College Legacies Created Equal in College Admissions?

Absolutely not. All legacies are NOT created equal. Having Mom or Dad graduate from the institution that you are interested in is exponentially more important as a legacy in your college admissions process than any other relative. The next level of legacy importance, yet distant to a parent, would be a grandparent. Being an involved parent legacy is of the most importance. What does this mean? It’s basic and cuts to the chase. Is your parent donating to the institution on a regular basis and, if so, how much? Are they volunteering their time, such as being an applicant interviewer?

Do All Colleges Put the Same Weight on Legacies When Making Admissions Decisions?

Institutions do not look at legacy applicants in the same way when considering a student’s admittance to their institution. Some schools’ legacy applicants are important and with others, being a legacy plays a minimal role, or no role at all.
There are some colleges where if you are a legacy (meaning a parent has graduated from this institution) and applying Early Decision is an option, then applying Early Decision (vs. Regular Decision) as a legacy is of utmost importance and can mean the difference between being accepted or not. (Applying Early Decision means that if you get accepted to an institution you are contractually required to attend.) This can be quite precarious if you have the need for financial help from this college and cannot afford to pay the full cost of attendance. As I have said in many of my other blogs, know your financial aid position, know if the school you are applying to will provide merit aid, and, if they do, if you would even be considered, and know what your financial boundaries are – how much can you and your family put towards a college education.

Why Does Being a Legacy Play Any Part in College Admissions Decisions?

The statistics say that if a student is a legacy, a primary one, meaning a parent, that the likelihood of that student attending, and future generations of attending, increase exponentially.
Let’s be clear. No matter the school and no matter what a student’s legacy status is, the student STILL has to qualify for that institution on an academic level (e.g., grades and test scores, if applicable). Legacy status doesn’t trump grades. Well, I suppose if your parent has donated a $40 million building, it may, but I digress.

The Legacy – Admissions Takeaway

So, the next time you think that Uncle Joe, Grandma or cousin Joey can play a big role in acceptance since they graduated from the institution of your choice, think again. And nothing, whatsoever, is guaranteed. Riding on your laurels that you have legacy status does not override your credentials when it comes to college admissions. So, give your best throughout high school, maximize your grades, and participate in the activities that you enjoy.

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