The Legacy Preference Scam: Closing the Door to Social Mobility in U.S. Colleges


What have we here? The Harvard Crimson, Harvard U’s “paper of record,” has just completed a survey of the class of 2021 (this year’s incoming freshman). If you’ve been paying attention, you won’t be surprised to learn that 29% of the class have relatives who attended Harvard. To make matters worse, things are getting worse. In a 2015 survey of incoming freshman, the same paper reported that only 16% of the class had a mommy or daddy or other close relative who called Harvard alma mater. These alumni children (“legacy admits”) get a leg-up when they apply to Harvard, Yale, and other highly selective colleges. So much for the canard that egalitarianism and meritocracy are the bedrock of American democracy. The smart money knows that the U.S. has never had much truck with those pesky values reserving them for pre-election rhetoric. Sadly, it doesn’t take much more than highfalutin double-talk to convince a majority of gullible Americans that their kids have the same chance of being admitted to Harvard (or Yale or any other prized institution) provided they have super grades, high (perfect) scores on standardized tests, and fabulous recommendations. Here’s the associate dean of admissions at Notre Dame on what an ordinary kid really has to do to overcome the two-tier admission system — “walk on water.” That’s the way it is in the empire and don’t let sleazy politicians and duplicitous college administrators tell you any different. But “the times they are changing.” In “The Legacy Preference Scam: Closing the Door to Social Mobility in U.S. Colleges” we point the finger at the outrageous behavior of our most prized colleges and universities but also bring you good news — how a courageous band of first generation Ivy League students are stepping up, stepping out and agitating for change. You owe it to yourself to check it out.

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