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06/05/2011

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Philip ROthman

It's trivially clear that elite institutions benefit (primarily through alumni donations) by having lower admissions standards for legacy applicants. But Prof. Becker also argues, "a legacy policy may in the longer run help both students and faculty." This is misleading. Which students does he have in mind? The better qualified non-legacy students denied admission, all else equal, as a result of this practice do not derive any such benefit. Isn't this rather obvious?

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Which students does he have in mind? The better qualified non-legacy students denied admission,

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NEH

juicy couture, The "better qualified non-legacy" students? Such as the qualifications of race, gender and creed? Admissions is not all about test scores, legacy or athletics, for better or worse...

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Pentagron

I attended the top ranked small New England college. I was not a legacy. However, I encountered many legacies and many multigenerational families. This provided a sense of continuity and history that enormously enriched my experience even though none of my ancestors attended the college. I am proud that some families think so highly of my college that they continue to send their children, year after year. To assert that the only benefits of legacy admissions are financial is just plain wrong. To decry legacy admissions because of perceived inequity is misguided. Who says that the only way to structure admissions is to blindly follow test scores and high school grades? (Neither of which have been proven to correlate with future success; only with academic performance in the freshman year.) Colleges have a right to select their classes for other reasons. College is a community that extends forward and backwards in time. Legacy admissions provide links to the past and to the future. These links are what makes attending a private college such a wonderful experience. Public universities that do not have the freedom to develop these links do not provide this enriching experience for their students.

tapanisa

Come on, the reasoning sounds a funny effort to rationalize the privileges. Pentagran's comment is more honest and reasonable. Anyway, I think private colleges can choose their students as they like. However, to try to show rationality in the legacy preferences feels self-deception. Does the same apply to bigger topics in this blog, too?

loveclair

Which students does he have in mind?Pentagran's comment is more honest and reasonable

Daniel Prinz

1. "Alumni are by far the principle source of small to moderate gifts to colleges and universities, and they, along with private foundations, are the major source of very large gifts. Individuals who have given tens, and sometimes hundreds, of millions of dollars to institutions of higher learning almost invariably have graduated from, or at least attended, the institutions that received their large gifts." - should be "principal"

2. Read "No Legacies---the Third Strike" in this piece: http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2010/12/why_caltech_is_in_a_class_by_i.html

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Christopher Graves

Pentagron makes the best case for continuing legacy preferences in private schools.

Brinkley Dickerson

Applicant A attended Trenton High School, where he played football, scored 2250 on his SAT, and earned a 4.3 (weighted GPA). He has no idea who his dad is, he worked a part-time job to help support his family, and overcame indescribable hurdles. Applicant B attended Exeter, where he played squash, scored 2250 on his SAT, and earned a 3.9 (unweighted) GPA. His parents both attended Princeton, he has been to Europe six times, and his family has a recognized tradition of public service. Which of these two would be a better student at Princeton. No one knows. Applicant A may have peaked, and Applicant B may be just warming up. Or vice versa. Applicant A may add insight into our urban challenges and may mentor classmates to commit to public service, or it may be Applicant B who through his international exposure is able to provide them with a better understanding of how the USA fits within the global framework. What is clear, however, is that it is Princeton’s decision who to accept, and there is not, and should not be, any Constitutional or other legally-imposed entitlement to admission at a private institution, just a prohibition against discrimination based upon traditional concepts. To the extent that legacy admission is material, the free market will amply discipline Princeton over time. If it accepts too many inferior applicants, its competition will be better able to attract the best applicants, professors, and funding. In contrast, if its decisions are optimal, it will be rewarded. That is, of course, if it matters at all.

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He has no idea who his dad is, he worked a part-time job to help support his family, and overcame indescribable hurdles. Applicant B attended Exeter, where he played squash, scored 2250 on his SAT, and earned a 3.9 (unweighted) GPA. His parents both attended Princeton, he has been to Europe six times, and his family has a recognized tradition of public service. Which of these two would be a better student at Princeton. No one knows.

Zoltan Newberry

Pentagon does make sense. My gripe with my own Ivy League school is twofold. They didn't take my son even though he was a straight A student at one of Chicago's most selective high schools and got two perfect 800's on his SAT's and several high 700's. His lowest was 700 on math, which doesn't interest him. I felt insulted especially since I'd given well over $30,000 over the years. It could be that he simply did not fit their mold. Or his rejection leads me to gripe number two. He could have been rejected because I have been an outspoken critic of my alma mater's politically correct faculty appointments and general direction. Another possible reason is that my son is not a joiner, he is an artistic type who likes to read and write and play music on his guitar. He is not a "leader.' He has some wonderful friends, but, still, he's an introvert. I think a lot of top schools are missing out when they go overboard for 'leaders' - think of the great composers, professors, scientists, engineers, writers and artists, many of whom were and still are natural introverts. I suspect that being a white male and a Jewish male at that did not help him. Two fine kids from his school with lower scores did get in. They were neither white nor Jewish. nor legacies. They took several hundred foreign students and God only knows how they will do. They also took over 200 legacies. They couldn't all be varsity stars, and certainly their academic scores couldn't have easily topped my son's. He's doing great at a school some rank higher than several Ivies - making fine friends, on the dean's list and a finalist for the frosh writing prize. But, still, I'm the one still hurt, because I love my school.

The National Benefit Authority

Though it may seem unfair, legacy preference benefits the education as a whole as well as the individual institutions.

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