Friday, February 11, 2011

Family Connections and College

According to a recent study, institutions of higher education might value legacies more than previously thought.
Legacies might even be the deciding factor in an increasingly competitive college admissions world.
The study conducted by Michael Hurwitz, a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, reported that applicants with a family member who attended a highly selective college are twice as likely to be admitted as their equally qualified non-legacy counterparts.
For what Hurwitz terms “primary legacy candidates”—applicants with at least one parent who attended the college as an undergraduate—the probability of admission is seven times as likely as non-legacy applicants.
Hurwitz cannot disclose whether Washington University was one of the 30 highly selective institutions that provided him with data. But according to the Office of Undergraduate admissions, the legacy trend is observable at Washington University.
“For as long as I can remember, the Admissions Office has tried to continue family relationships whenever possible,” said Julie Shimabukuro, director of undergraduate admissions. “In the fall 2010 freshman class, approximately 5 percent of admitted students had one or more parent graduate from the University.”
According to Shimabukuro, applicants who have at least one Wash. U. graduate as a parent are admitted to the University at a higher rate than others. For example, last fall, the difference in probability of admission between non-legacy and legacy applicants was approximately 21 to 38 percent.