Legacies kinda bug me.

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….'

That bugs.

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. :)


written by
March 27, 2007

13 Responses to “Legacies kinda bug me.”

  1. Lucy
    June 13, 2007 at 1:45 pm #

    I totally agree with where you are coming from! There is a girl who I work with who is only concerend with partying day and night and is contented to let Mommy pay for anything and everything she ever wanted, including college. But she has no desire to become anything or do anything useful with that money to make a difference! Her only legacy will be that of a party queen. And like you said, that is truly sad.

  2. Hannah
    June 14, 2007 at 8:08 pm #

    Alright…well, don’t shoot me when I say you sound like a total hypocrite. You go through this long spiel about the “legacies” and the super-duper rich–how it’s horribly wrong that they get into these colleges they really don’t deserve to get into, and I was agreeing with you. I feel the same way. Then, I read the end of your article and realized that you really don’t care…’cause in a few years, YOUR child will be that legacy. YOUR child will be the one who possibly denies another more qualified student just because he’s a “legacy.” But, what burned me the most was your flippant attitude at the end, the “The legacy concept might be the very thing that gets my boy in. :)” So yeah, I’m really annoyed. Maybe in the future you should try to write upon only the things about which you really care, and not those that just appear to make you the mouthpiece of the average high school student looking for change in the way the college admission process is run. I would say I’m sorry that this is a bit of a rant, but I would be lying. I want you to know that I do not mean for this to be disrespectful or rude, just feedback that is not gushing with praise. Thank you for your time, and I hope you will consider what I have written.

  3. Mick
    June 15, 2007 at 9:15 am #

    I’m not sure you understood the last part of my post. I was being 100% sarcastic. I dislike the fact that unqualified students take qualified students’ spots now just as i’ll dislike it in the future. I won’t even want my kid to apply to Princeton unless I felt like he had an honest shot of getting in, despite the legacy situation. I wouldn’t encourage it and I wouldn’t let it happen. There are too many students who have worked too hard to become just another victim to this injustice.

    So again, I apologize if you didn’t quite understand what I was saying. I was being sarcastic.

  4. Hannah
    June 19, 2007 at 11:53 am #

    I know I’ve already commented on this articles, but I really hope you’ll post this. I have to say I am very sorry. I honestly didn’t know you were being sarcastic. This makes me very happy ’cause I LOVE ZINCH!!!! I think it’s the best thing ever, and you’re doing such an awesome service for us high school kids. So, please, accept my apologies. Sorry! Thanks for making such a freaking awesome place! : )

  5. Vincent
    June 20, 2007 at 8:49 pm #

    well, it bugs me that the legacies based on the tradition of the family takes priority over the wishes of the child’s future which isn’t the way it’s suppose to be.

  6. Susie
    June 21, 2007 at 3:30 pm #

    How do you feel about preferences being given to minorities. I mean do you consider legacy a form of affirmative action? And therefore do you conclude that affirmative action, in all its forms, is unfair and inappropriate?

  7. Mick
    June 23, 2007 at 1:16 am #

    I don’t consider legacy a form of affirmative action (or the typical “minority”) at all. To put them in that boat is wrong.

  8. Adrienne
    June 23, 2007 at 1:43 pm #

    I completely agree! There is a girl that goes to my school who is favored by a lot of people because her parents are so involved in and contribute money to the school. It really bugs me because I work just as hard as she does. It should be about what students can contribute to their school and the work that they do. Not their parents.

  9. Aakriti
    August 5, 2007 at 3:49 am #

    ohhhhh my god..i so so believe with you..I am from India and this very thing holds sooooooooooooooo true here also…i hate this concept and i really want to stop it 4ever…mayb we guys cud get together and set up a law or sumthng…a universal law at that…thts the only thing i cn think of now….

  10. andrea
    August 7, 2007 at 9:05 am #

    Thanks for the article Mick! I live in Colombia and I had no idea legacies existed! I thought there had to be some type of “special treatment” for rich kids who worry about nothing else than spending daddy´s money, but know I am well imformed.. I think that just sucks! We should really do something about it! Maybe we as a ZINCH group could gather good information and statistics and do some kind of article to let our opinons be heard by colleges! I think its always good to speak out, and it would be a good start…

  11. Mary
    February 17, 2008 at 6:42 pm #

    I’m glad you’ve chosen to express the sentiments that many of us students are feeling. I know that when an UVA admissions officer came to our school, she told us that legacies get placed into the “in-state” applicant pool, which definitely gives them an advantage.

    And I also really admire the fact that you said you wouldn’t let your kid apply to Princeton unless you felt he had a shot. I applaud you for your honesty & sense of responsibility.


  12. Annica
    February 10, 2009 at 1:28 pm #

    Totally agree. People should get into college based on their academic prowess & ability to handle the load, not their parents’ influence, legacy, money or otherwise.

  13. Sarah
    December 4, 2009 at 12:03 pm #

    George W. Bush.

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