POINT/COUNTERPOINT: Should Legacies in Colleges Become a Thing of the Past?



Larisa Breskin, Staff Reporter, Freshman

It’s been said that legacy students are often given a boost in the college admissions process since their relatives were alumni. Some have expressed criticism for this system, believing that this leg-up is unfair to those without the affluence to buy influence. Contrary to such opinions, weighting legacy admissions is beneficial not only for the financial security and dignity of a college but also for the academic success of less privileged students.

According to NPR (National Public Radio), the donations provided to universities through legacy admissions help those who would have the least chance of attending the school. For example, donations to Harvard have reportedly totaled $72.2 million over the course of 13 years, which can pay for an astounding 384 full-ride (four year) scholarships to the prestigious school. The more of these donations given, the more scholarships or financial support a college is able to hand out to those in need. Therefore, legacy programs are indirectly able to help those who are less financially inclined in the college admissions process.

Furthermore, there’s already special consideration given to those based on gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomics, so to pretend that there isn’t already preferential treatment in the admissions process would be less than honest. Why shouldn’t legacy be a consideration, too? In the words of Delmar Dunn, a University of Georgia administrator, “If you could not provide weight for one group, on what basis could you justify giving it to another group?”

Allowing legacies a better chance at getting into the college adds a certain diversity to the class by mixing both those who likely know much about the history of the college, as well as those who may not. The benefits of accepting legacies outweigh the negatives. The most common claim opponents of legacies make is that those who are not privileged enough to have parents who attended a certain college ought to not be considered lesser on their applications. However, the money that is given to the school from legacy families is substantial and can benefit a college greatly as they can use this money to help with tuition costs, thus allowing a wider range of applicants to be accepted.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “It is not beyond our power to create a world in which all children have access to a good education.” Every child is entitled to having a successful education, and legacy programs in colleges, while seemingly favoring the affluent, actually help those in need with some of the financial burdens of higher education.