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New York Considers Banning Legacy Admissions in College Applications

New York May Join Ranks of States Banning Legacy College Admissions

New York is getting ready to stop giving special treatment to students who have family connections when it comes to college admissions. This practice has been criticized for mainly benefiting white or wealthy students.

State Senator Andrew Gounardes aptly described it as “affirmative action for privileged kids.” The Fair College Admissions Act aims to address persistent racial inequality in education, sparked by the Supreme Court’s 2023 decision to limit race-based affirmative action programs.

Legacy admissions give preference to applicants with familial alumni connections despite research showing they are not more qualified or academically superior.

New York Considers Ending Legacy Admissions Preferences in Colleges

Legacy applicants are admitted at higher rates but are less racially diverse and come from wealthier backgrounds. A study analyzed 16 years of data from an elite university, finding that 34.2% of legacy applicants were admitted, compared to 13.9% of non-legacy applicants.

These students are more likely to be white, from higher-income ZIP codes, and have high donor potential. Colleges prioritize admitting students who merit admission, are financially supportive, and contribute to diversity, but these goals often conflict in practice.

First-generation students like Jonathan Lam, a child of Vietnamese refugees, face barriers to accessing higher education due to a lack of connections and knowledge about college admissions. Lam hopes abolishing legacy admissions will create a more equitable pathway for students like him.

The majority of Americans believe a student’s relationship to an alumni should not influence admissions. In New York, over 40% of institutions use legacy admissions preferences, which the proposed bill aims to eliminate.

If passed, schools failing to comply will lose 10% of tuition revenue for low-income students. New York would join Colorado, Maryland, and Virginia in banning legacy admissions, aligning with hundreds of colleges that have already implemented similar policies.

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