Legacy admissions and my own inner conflict


Apr 22, 2018 Bully Pulpit 0 Comments

I’m all about legacy admissions. Two of my boys went to Duke, and I’m never going to say it didn’t help them get in. My sons were qualified for Duke in their own right, yet we all know that the good stats only take students so far in actually getting in to an uber-selective college. Hey, I’m a mom. I’m not going to be a hypocrite now that my kids are safely tucked away in their Gothic coffers. Legacy helped my kids NOT fall through the cracks. Was it fair? Probably not. Do I regret it, as a mom?- never for a second. I’ve been anticipating this article from the Duke Chronicle for years. I’m sure legacy admissions is soon to be scrutinized at all colleges. However, what surprises me is who is NOT complaining about it. Duke and other top schools devote a lot of resources to closing the equity gap. Duke has initiated so many wonderful programs to increase access for underserved students. With the David M. Rubenstein Scholars Program and Questbridge, Duke is making legitimate and worthy strides to increase the scope of its student population. A lot of the initiatives that address unfairness in admissions are led by minority groups on campus. And that’s a direct benefit of increased access. Traditionally unheard voices force us to question the mores to which we’ve grown accustomed. But you know who SHOULD be complaining about legacy admissions the loudest? It’s the middle class unhooked white students who are really suffering from legacy admissions. Colleges neatly manicure their classes by demographics. So it makes sense to me that it’s the other students with similar demographics to the legacies who lose their spots over and over again to legacy students. And let’s just keep it real– most legacies are middle class (or rich) white students. Maybe I’m naive, but I think Will’s advantage in admissions was over the kids who plotted like he did on demographic charts. College admissions are certainly not fair. That’s for sure. But it’s really difficult to pick it apart and untangle the web of preference in admissions. I’m just grateful, as a mom, that I can sit on my couch and speculate about my kids theoretically, while in real-time, Will is on the C-2 bus heading to West Campus with a big Blue Devil on his backpack.

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