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Do Legacy Preferences Count More Than Race When Applying to Elite Colleges?

Don't ID as Asian for College

legacy college applicants huge advantage over sought after minorities JadeLuckClub jade luck clubWell, if you think that checking the box for Asian will help you get into elite private college,  you need to know about the SAT “tax” for Asians because we’re “over-represented” at top colleges. If you need to read up on this, click here. If you are Asian (or not) but a legacy, how does this factor into the admissions formula? Read on to find out… This is from The Chronicle on Higher Education. The full post is here.

Key quotes:

  • A new study by Harvard University researcher Michael Hurwitz finds that legacy preferences are larger than previously thought.
  • …“primary legacy” candidates (sons and daughters, as opposed to siblings, nephews, nieces, or grandchildren) see a whopping 45.1 percentage point increase in the chances of admission. What this means, as Ashburn explains, is that if a non-legacy applicant with a certain set of credentials has a 15 percent chance of admissions, a primary legacy applicant with identical credentials would have a 60 percent chance of getting in.
  • … being an under-represented minority increased one’s chances by 27.7 percentage points.
  • …  colleges gave no preference to low-income students.
  • To be clear, comparing Hurwitz’s findings on legacies with Bowen’s findings on race is imperfect, given the different methodologies. But further research is certainly warranted to find out whether the 45-percentage-point boost provided primary legacies is, in fact, larger than the boost provided to racial minorities.
  • Research finds, in short, that legacy preferences are more significant than previously believed, yet their fundamental rationale (raising money) is flawed.

Do Legacy Preferences Count More Than Race?

January 6, 2011, 4:08 pm

By Richard Kahlenberg


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