College, Legacy Scholarships, Legacy Admissions, state college

Some State Colleges Now Offer Legacy Scholarships Instead Of Legacy Admissions

Some state colleges are moving toward legacy scholarships in response to the growing pressure to do away with the practice of legacy admissions.

Some state colleges are moving toward legacy scholarships in response to the growing pressure to do away with the practice of legacy admissions. Data from an investigation by Brookings indicates that most flagship state universities don’t use legacy status in admissions but legacy scholarships instead. 

As Business Insider reports, the Supreme Court’s decision in June 2023 to effectively ban affirmative action from the college admissions process created another question for colleges about what to do about legacy admissions.

Some colleges, like Wesleyan University, a private liberal arts college in Connecticut, responded to the Supreme Court’s decision by eliminating legacy admissions. Others, like Harvard University, still maintain the practice.

As reported, students at Ivy League universities like Brown and Yale, as well as Harvard, have made their opposition to the practice known. Zoe Faud, a 20-year-old junior at Brown, told the outlet that the practice entrenches a “cycle of inequity.” She continued, “By perpetually giving advantages to their descendants, we’re ensuring that those who were systemically favored continue to be favored.”

According to Brookings, Faud is correct in asserting that legacy admissions entrenches inequality; the practice’s beginnings can be traced to an effort during the 1920s to keep Jewish students out of the Ivy League. Some have also argued that legacy admissions have reduced the representation of Asian students at highly selective colleges. 

Though state flagship universities do not use legacy admissions, private and highly selective universities do. Those selective colleges, however, were more likely to consider a prospective student’s race in addition to their legacy status. Brookings notes that race was taken into consideration more often at the most selective colleges than it was at the least selective colleges. 

Furthermore, the report from Brookings indicates that ending legacy admissions would have little effect, if any, on the diversity of university student bodies. According to the report’s authors, what is most important is that universities are clear about their admissions policies. They also state in the conclusion of their report that legacy admissions are part of a larger economy that favors the privileged. 

“Legacy admissions are just a small piece of a college admissions system that favors students from advantaged backgrounds in numerous ways. Much more central to that system is that, due to opportunity gaps across many domains, students from more privileged backgrounds are substantially better-prepared academically when they reach college application time.”

The authors also stressed that the education system needs to better prepare students from disadvantaged backgrounds for college. 

“Addressing gaps in academic preparation as well as college affordability gaps is key to increasing representation of Black, Latino or Hispanic, and Native American students and those from lower-income families in four-year colleges.”