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6 months ago
Admissions Advice

University legacy

So my mom and dad went to Cornell & USC, which makes me a second-gen legacy student right? How do I calculate the chances including legacy?

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1 answer

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6 months ago[edited]

There is no calculation you can infer to predict the impact of applying as a legacy applicant. Why? It's because each applicant is evaluated holistically across dozens of criteria. No 2 legacy applicants are the same. In the most simplest example let's say there are 3 legacy applicants to Cornell/USC. Applicant A is Star Rower who went to a Private Boarding School and rowed this summer at Henley and has graduated with High Honors and interned at Goldman Sachs. Applicant B is an Asian non-athlete with perfect grades and a 1600 SAT but no impressive ECs. Applicant C is a Black Trans student who goes to public school. They are activists with 100K youTube followers and hold 3 board seat positions on various non-profit community service organizations. Plus they have published 2 books of poetry and won a US Presidential Scholars award in the Arts.

So how would Cornell or USC rank these individuals? Both schools have around a 14% matriculation rate so they still give preferential treatment to them. But since 75000-80000 apply to these schools, there are many legacy applicants earmarked for review.

My guess would be C, then A, then B. Why? Because C brings the most PR clout to the school and future recognition for creating a level playing field for marginalized folk. Plus they are double hooked as lower income. B is super entitled and rich so they will be successful no matter where they go. They can go to Georgetown or SMU and still not deviate from their ancestor's generational wealth plan for them. Then B because there is nothing remarkable these days about applicants having the best grades and test scores. It seems colleges want some evidence of uniqueness that makes them sparkle.

Depending on the school you can expect some sort of boost from one or both parents being a legacy but that may vary from 0% to 30% IMO. You still face the same AO scrutiny because schools are comparing you to other legacies in the pool. When legacies are sorted, they are bucketed against institutional priorities as well so if the school wants X or Y number of musicians, dancers, or theatre kids to populate their new School of Music for example, that plays into the admission decision as well. Money and social engagement talk as well. So if alumni parents have regularly contributed $10,000 or more for the past 25 years and they are heavily involved with the alumni association and volunteer at college functions, their kids have a leg up on those legacy applicants whose parents who have been dormant.

Good luck to you.

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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
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SAT: 720 math
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| 800 verbal
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