I'm not gonna lie. One thing that has always bugged me in college admissions is the concept of a "legacy." I know I know, one day when my kids are applying to Princeton, i'll absolutely love the idea. But right now, it's one thing I really don't like. Too many amazing, talented, & qualified high school students are left with the rejection letter because a "legacy" took his/her spot. I had many friends who fell victim to this injustice.
For those of you new to the concept, here's a short blurb from good ol' wikipedia: "Legacy admission is a type of preference given by educational institutions to certain applicants on the basis of their familial relationship to alumni of that institution. (Students so admitted are referred to as legacies or legacy students.) There is a long history of this practice at American universities and colleges."
So why does it bug me so bad? Well…while I was at Princeton, I was able to meet alot (I mean alot) of legacy students. And you know what….most of them didn't deserve to be there. It's as simple as that. They did not deserve to be there.
Again, i'm not saying ALL legacies. I'm just saying many of those I had met.
There was one dorm neighbor at Princeton who was a world fencing champion, another neighbor who spoke 7 languages, another neighbor who was pretty much just a week away from curing cancer, and then there was "John Doe" the legacy, who rarely even attended class. It didn't make sense to me. There were a handful of students I knew in high school who would have given an arm to be in his spot at Princeton and who were certainly more qualified. Yet, because "John Doe" was a legacy, he was in.
There was a really interesting article published recently in the Badger Herald, titled "Legacy Matters." It points out a few facts about legacies. Here's a snippet:
Students with a family legacy at their university are more likely to experience academic problems than both athletes and minority students, according to a Princeton University study released Monday.
According to the study, conducted by Douglas Massey, professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton, so-called “legacy students” are often not prepared for the academic rigors of top higher-education institutions, and often do not receive the additional resources available to athletes and minority students.
Another thing that goes hand in hand with legacies are the students who belong to extremely wealthy families. Colleges will often times let these kids in with hopes that one day their families will donate a lot of money to the university. Nightline did a report on this. Here's the blurb from their site about the story.
'"Nightline" aired a report on November 2, 2006, about the college admissions process that focused on the advantages that candidates can have if they come from a wealthy family perceived as potential big donors to the school. In this regard, we reported on the admission into Duke of two children of the designer Ralph Lauren, who later made a six figure contribution to the university. We also noted that the then Vice Chancellor of Duke, Professor Joel Fleishman, recommended that the children be admitted to the university, solicited donations from the Lauren family, and later was appointed to the Ralph Lauren Company's board of directors….'
Perhaps i'm annoyed because I resent legacies and these super rich kids. Well, perhaps resentment isn't the word i'm looking for. But call it what you want. I wasn't a legacy. My father didn't graduate from college and my mother only did when I was older, already in high school. And I certainly didn't come from a super wealthy family. I had to sacrifice a lot to get into Princeton. I had to put an incredible amount of effort into making it happen.
Perhaps the root of my disdain is tied to the fact that in high school I didn't get to do as much as the legacy. I didn't get as much sleep as the legacy cuz I had to wake up earlier to study. I didn't get to make out with my girlfriend as much as the legacy because of my after-school volunteer work. I didn't get to go out with my friends and play ball as much as the legacy because of my job. I had to read Charles Dickens instead of Sports Illustrated. I had to surf the net for free test prep materials instead of having my fancy-shmancy "college coach" tutor me. The list goes on….and on….and on.
I was studying. I was working. I was sacrificing. I was doing what it took to get into Princeton. I got in because of my hard work, not my daddy's nor his checkbook.
To me it's that simple.
Again, I know some legacies who should ABSOLUTELY be where they are. Their acceptance has NOTHING to do with the fact that they come from money or that they're legacy. However, I know many, yes many, who didn't give a rat's booty where they were. They weren't gonna do their homework regardless. And it was sad to see. They had taken someone else's spot. Someone who truly would have appreciated and taken full advantage of the education they were getting.
That's my two cents with that.
But hey….I guess it really doesn't matter though does it? Like I said, in 20 years from now when Mick junior is applying to Princeton, i'll have forgotten this blog, my present feelings, and my annoyance. The legacy concept might be the very thing that gets my boy in.