Want to Target Injustice? Start With the Legacy System. | Teen Ink

Want to Target Injustice? Start With the Legacy System.

December 13, 2018
By Mrs_Babble_Dolittle SILVER, Atlanta, Georgia
Mrs_Babble_Dolittle SILVER, Atlanta, Georgia
5 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered."
"If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."


In order for systemic injustice to be corrected, the advantaged and powerful need to acknowledge their role. In this spirit, I will be completely forthright: the legacy system was designed for me. 

Well, not me specifically. But students who fit my profile. I am privileged. White. Rich. A legacy at one of the top universities in the United States. I attend an expensive private school. I am applying to the same college my parents attended, and, even though the acceptance rate is extremely low, I know that my chance of being admitted to this university is perhaps 5 to 6 times as high as the average applicant, perhaps more considering that my parents could afford costly SAT tutors to maximize my standardized test scores and grades. I have a dedicated college counselor who helps me through the process of writing essays. In short, unlike millions of equally-able and intelligent students lacking the advantages I was born into, my future is secure.

The legacy box on the Common Application is small, but I can tell you without a doubt that it is just as significant as a student’s test scores or teacher recommendations. I go to school with kids who are quadruple legacies at schools like Harvard and Princeton; they recently received their early acceptances to elite schools like these. No one in my school was surprised, partly because it takes having advantage to recognize its value. 

The most effective way to disguise systemic injustice is to feign fairness. To pretend that no one is at an advantage — especially the already-advantaged. Elite colleges issue statements annually re-affirming their pro-diversity, pro-fairness stances, claiming that legacy applicants are simply better qualified than non-legacy applicants, but the name of the game is money. 

Legacy admissions keep attendance to a specific college “within the family” and, in doing so, dramatically increase the likelihood that the already-wealthy applicant will financially support the college. Programs like Early Decision target either the Uber-poor, so that colleges can statistically claim that no one is at a true advantage or disadvantage, or the Uber-wealthy (aka people like me), in an effort to increase their endowment. 

Like many other college-bound seniors, I have been paying attention to the affirmative action lawsuit against Harvard and Yale. Why are we attacking the affirmative action suit, a program designed to encourage diversity on college campuses, when there are policies in place encouraging the rich to become richer and more powerful? Why do colleges like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, colleges that claim to protect the American Dream and lofty ideals like societal equity, continue to practice them? Could it be that the people with the power to stop legacy preference are the ones directly benefited by it? And so the cycle continues: the rich become richer, and the poor more powerless. And they say the process is “holistic.” 



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