The elite school in Western Massachusetts, Amherst College has declared that its they will no longer prioritise the admissions applications of children of graduates when reviewing their applications. As a result, the predilection for second-generation Mammoths—which account for approximately 11 percent of each class—is on the verge of being exterminated.
Caltech, MIT, and any institution that begins with the letters “University of California” are examples of prestigious colleges that do not take candidates’ family trees into consideration.
However, this is far from the norm: according to a 2019 study, legacy status is taken into account in admissions choices at 43 percent of private nonprofit universities and 14 percent of public universities. 73 percent of the most selective colleges, such as Amherst, which has an acceptance rate of 25 percent or less, follow the same policy.
Increasing pressure for change is being felt.
This fall, students at Harvard and Brown began #LeaveYourLegacy campaigns, calling on alumni to boycott contributions until the universities quit worrying about your last name. And only last week, the state of Colorado approved a law prohibiting favour for applicants who have alumni relatives from being given preference at any public institution in the state.
Critics of college admissions contend that the process unfairly benefits white, rich applicants while depriving admissions spaces from individuals who are less privileged but academically more qualified of admittance.
From 2013 to 2019, the number of accepted students with alumni parents at Johns Hopkins University more than halved, while the proportion of first-generation students more than doubled. The university began phasing out legacy preference in 2014 and altogether eliminated it in 2019.
In a legal lawsuit filed in 2018 against Harvard University, which accused the university of prejudice against Asian American candidates, an economist hired by the defendants stated that the university accepted legacy applications at a rate five times greater than it did applicants with no legacy. More than one-third of Harvard’s Class of 2022 were descendants of alumni parents.
Legacy admissions supporters keep their justifications simple: it is financially advantageous to the school, as it encourages alumni donations and sustained participation with the institution.