Friday, January 7, 2011

Shocking News About Legacies -- They Do Help

We recently visited some friends and the conversation veered to that favorite topic of all parents of teens of a certain age -- college. Our host said he thought that legacy students really had a significant advantage when applying to that school.

I scoffed at the notion, said that studies show that maybe, just maybe, the legacy student might have an edge if all things were equal between two candidates. Then I said it is just not the advantage people think it is.

Apparently I lied, big time. A study reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education finds that in the past the legacy advantage had not been measured accurately -- it was too low. Get this: the Harvard researcher doing the study found that primary legacies -- those with a parent receiving an undergraduate degree from the school -- had an advantage of 45.1 percent. Secondary legacies (sibling, aunt, uncle or grandparent, or a parent who attended graduate school at the university) -- were 13.7 percent more likely to gain admission. SAT scores, as you can see, were also a factor in the whether legacies help.

Another fascinating angle of the study: the conclusions are related to the most and least selective colleges. The legacy benefit is lots less for students applying to middle range colleges.

Okay. Now I am off to eat crow.

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