By Austin Curwen, College Consultant Annapolis College Consulting
One thing that is bandied about quietly among college admissions professionals is whether students receive preference as a legacy candidate. What is this you ask? Put simply, an advantage if a parent is a graduate of the school the student is applying to. This was seen as an opportunity to allow a ‘special’ admissions experience to a small stream of the children of alums applying to the school. Not surprisingly, at many schools, fundraising and alumni donations are also part of this filter.
So what about today in 2022? Amherst College (MA) has recently declared that there will no longer be any preferential treatment to legacy candidates and it has been suggested that other selective schools may follow suit. A few minutes of digging will suggest that at the most selective schools, legacy admissions are still a part of the process. However, outside of the schools with admission rates below 20%, is this a thing? and does it matter? The simple answer is not really.
Most schools today will state that their current institutional priorities are to better serve first-generation college students and also Pell-Eligible (lower income) students. In short, today’s colleges have made very deliberate steps to becoming the social and economic game changers they have long claimed to be.
If your student is currently applying to schools, including an alma mater, does this translate to much leverage in terms of admissions? For the overwhelming majority of people, probably not. Most admissions offices love to be told that a candidate is the child of a graduate, and if you are visiting a school, you will receive a warm welcome. For any school, this is simply good practice to keep alums engaged and maintain the positive feelings many graduates have for their alma mater. With applicant pools that contain academically qualified children of alums, will this propel a sub-par candidate through the admissions maze and yield an admission? Unlikely.
So what to do if your child is interested in attending Mom or Dad’s old school? Like many things, make sure there is a clear fit, including programs or areas of study, admissibility, and that the school makes financial sense. If all of these boxes are ticked, move ahead with confidence and get ready to increase your tailgating spread when your child starts to bring their classmates along.