WSJ explores diversity implications of considering legacy status

Reporting that many of the nation’s top universities extend an admissions advantage to children of alumni, The Wall Street Journal recently explored colleges’ rationale for considering “legacy status” and critics’ concerns that the approach may compromise efforts to increase diversity. The debate around the treatment of legacy applicants “reflect[s] broader unease about competing priorities in admissions,” the Journal says.

Critics say considering legacy status perpetuates status quo

Critics of factoring legacy status into admissions decisions say it runs counter to top schools’ pledges to increase socioeconomic diversity by taking up spots that might otherwise go to underrepresented groups. The Journal notes that legacy preferences “generally benefit applicants who are wealthy and white, as they reflect the student body from a generation earlier.”

Proponents say ‘it’s a false choice’ and note importance of engaging alumni

However, “schools say it is a false choice”—they can look at legacy status while also growing racial and economic diversity, The Journal reports. In addition, proponents of legacy consideration say it’s an important way to engage alumni, adding that legacy status is just one of many factors evaluated and doesn’t necessarily mean the student will be admitted.

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