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February 13, 2003

Legacies & higher education

The New York Times has a pretty balanced article on legacies at Middlebury college. Note these facts:


While legacies made up 12 percent of the freshman class entering Middlebury in the fall of 1965, they are just 5 percent of the current freshman class. It can be difficult to mount an argument that those admitted to this class were not otherwise qualified, at least by the yardstick of the SAT: the 30 legacies in the current freshman class posted an average SAT score (1389) that is 33 points higher than that of the class as a whole.
...
But that argument frequently makes it no easier for legacies to convince a classmate that their admissions were merited.

Rich well connected white kids that actually have higher test scores than the average (at least at this school), and yet their classmates still look down on them and feel that they didn't get in "on merit." How do you think it works out for minority students who are academically not in the same league as their peers and stand out in a crowd?

Posted by razib at 12:17 AM




What exactly is the definition of a "legacy admission"? That your parent went to the same college? What if your GPA is 4.0 and a 1600 SAT, are you still considered a legacy admission?

Another thing affecting legacy admissions is that children of college-educated parents usually do much better in school than others. So it is not fair to compare the acceptance rates with the overall student body. High school and colege grades and SAT scores are probably a better measure.

Also, comparing the average scores for one year is not a good idea because of the small sample size.

Posted by: Zack Ajmal at February 13, 2003 01:03 AM


zack-agree with everything. i've made these sort of points enough that i'll let the readers do it now....

Posted by: razib at February 13, 2003 11:41 AM