What is a College Legacy Student? What you need to know

What is a College Legacy Student

A recent report in the New York Post suggests that The Supreme Court may strike down affirmative action for college admission.

If your parents attended your school choice, it would probably favor you. However, if your parents didn’t, you may be one of those screaming controversial.

Legacy preference has been a thing for generations among top colleges in the US. A study of thirty elite colleges found that primary legacy students are an astonishing 45% more likely to get into a highly selective college.

So, while we await a court injunction on this preference during college admission, let’s learn about legacy students.

If you got here wondering what is college legacy student, read this exciting debate on who they are and why they should stay.

What is a College Legacy Student?

Institutions or organizations consider certain applicants based on their familial relationship with alumni. This consideration is known as legacy preference.

A college legacy student is any student who has a close family member as an alumnus of their college. This act dates back to the 1920s when top-tier universities used this preference to maintain spots for Anglo-Protestants.

During this period, there was an uproar that the Jews, Catholics, and Asians were increasingly taking spots at the schools. By 1992, about 76 universities had legacy preferences during college admission.

Currently, over 10% of each class at Ivy League schools gets in through the legacy preference. The University of Notre Dame and Georgetown consider legacy status as one criterion during application.

While some universities only consider immediate family members, others extend to a larger family. In more precise terms, legacy students refer to students at a private university in the US whose parents attended the same college.

What Counts as a Legacy Student?

For some schools, your legacy status only counts if your father or mother attended the same college. Others will extend their definition of legacy across to grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

Whichever, to be a legacy student, you must have a member of your family as an alumnus of the college. It is important to note that legacy is not the only criterion to gain admission.

So, if your scores are bad or you miss out on other eligibility requirements for a course, your legacy status may not mean much during your admission process.

Is Legacy Status Important During College Admission?

Yes, most top universities across the nation give some preference to students whose parents are alumni of the college.

So, if you are looking to apply to a college your parents attended, your legacy status could be the boost you need to gain admission. Unfortunately, not all schools consider this.

Even if your parents were ex-students of the college of your choice, the university will not give you a preference if it does not consider this status.

Last year, figures show that Harvard legacy students were four times more than non-legacy students. I believe this explains how important your legacy status is if you are one.

Read Also: 10 Most Selective Colleges in the USA | Criteria, Cost

What Schools Consider College Legacy Students?

At least 75 schools out of the top 100 colleges in the US consider the legacy students. This list includes all Ivies and other top private universities in the country.

Find below your choice of college in the US and their legacy student preference status.

Part I: Top 100 Universities

University NameStatus
Princeton UniversityLegacy Considered
Harvard UniversityLegacy Considered
Columbia UniversityLegacy Considered
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyLegacy Not Considered
Yale UniversityLegacy Considered
Stanford UniversityLegacy Considered
University of ChicagoLegacy Considered
University of PennsylvaniaLegacy Considered
California Institute of TechnologyLegacy Not Considered
Johns Hopkins UniversityLegacy Not Considered
Northwestern UniversityLegacy Considered
Duke UniversityLegacy Considered
Dartmouth CollegeLegacy Considered
Brown UniversityLegacy Considered
Vanderbilt UniversityLegacy Considered
Rice UniversityLegacy Considered
Washington University in St. LouisLegacy Considered
Cornell UniversityLegacy Considered
University of Notre DameLegacy Considered
University of California-Los AngelesLegacy Not Considered
Emory UniversityLegacy Considered
University of California-BerkeleyLegacy Not Considered
Georgetown UniversityLegacy Considered
University of Southern CaliforniaLegacy Considered
University of Michigan-Ann ArborLegacy Considered
Carnegie Mellon UniversityLegacy Considered
University of VirginiaLegacy Considered
University of North Carolina-Chapel HillLegacy Considered
Wake Forest UniversityLegacy Considered
Tufts UniversityLegacy Considered
New York UniversityLegacy Considered
University of FloridaLegacy Not Considered
University of California-Santa BarbaraLegacy Not Considered
University of RochesterLegacy Considered
Georgia Institute of TechnologyLegacy Considered
Boston CollegeLegacy Considered
University of California-IrvineLegacy Not Considered
University of California-San DiegoLegacy Not Considered
William and MaryLegacy Considered
University of California-DavisLegacy Not Considered
Tulane UniversityLegacy Considered
Boston UniversityLegacy Considered
Case Western Reserve UniversityLegacy Considered
Brandeis UniversityLegacy Considered
University of Texas-AustinLegacy Not Considered
University of Wisconsin-MadisonLegacy Not Considered
University of GeorgiaLegacy Not Considered
University of Illinois-Urbana-ChampaignLegacy Not Considered
Northeastern UniversityLegacy Not Considered
University of MiamiLegacy Considered
Pepperdine UniversityLegacy Considered
Lehigh UniversityLegacy Considered
Villanova UniversityLegacy Considered
Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteLegacy Considered
Santa Clara UniversityLegacy Considered
Ohio State University-ColumbusLegacy Not Considered
Purdue University-West LafayetteLegacy Not Considered
Florida State UniversityLegacy Not Considered
University of Maryland-College ParkLegacy Considered
Syracuse UniversityLegacy Considered
University of WashingtonLegacy Not Considered
University of PittsburghLegacy Considered
University of ConnecticutLegacy Considered
Rutgers University-New BrunswickLegacy Not Considered
George Washington UniversityLegacy Considered
Loyola Marymount UniversityLegacy Considered
Fordham UniversityLegacy Considered
Southern Methodist UniversityLegacy Considered
Worcester Polytechnic InstituteLegacy Considered
University of Minnesota-Twin CitiesLegacy Considered
Texas A&M University-College StationLegacy Not Considered
University of Massachusetts-AmherstLegacy Considered
Clemson UniversityLegacy Considered
Virginia TechLegacy Considered
American UniversityLegacy Considered
Baylor UniversityLegacy Considered
Yeshiva UniversityLegacy Not Considered
Indiana University-BloomingtonLegacy Considered
Howard UniversityLegacy Considered
Stevens Institute of TechnologyLegacy Considered
North Carolina State University-RaleighLegacy Considered
Texas Christian UniversityLegacy Considered
University of DenverLegacy Considered
Gonzaga UniversityLegacy Considered
Brigham Young University-ProvoLegacy Not Considered
Michigan State UniversityLegacy Considered
Binghamton University-SUNYLegacy Considered
Stony Brook University-SUNYLegacy Considered
University of San DiegoLegacy Considered
Colorado School of MinesLegacy Considered
University of California-RiversideLegacy Not Considered
University at Buffalo-SUNYLegacy Not Considered
Elon UniversityLegacy Considered
University of IowaLegacy Not Considered
Marquette UniversityLegacy Considered
University of California-Santa CruzLegacy Not Considered
University of DelawareLegacy Considered
University of UtahLegacy Considered
University of California-MercedLegacy Not Considered
Auburn UniversityLegacy Considered
University of ArizonaLegacy Not Considered
Williams CollegeLegacy Considered
Amherst CollegeLegacy Considered
Swarthmore CollegeLegacy Considered
Pomona CollegeLegacy Not Considered
Wellesley CollegeLegacy Considered
United States Naval AcademyLegacy Considered
Bowdoin CollegeLegacy Considered
Claremont McKenna CollegeLegacy Considered
Hamilton CollegeLegacy Considered
Washington and Lee UniversityLegacy Considered
Carleton CollegeLegacy Considered
Middlebury CollegeLegacy Considered
Grinnell CollegeLegacy Considered
Vassar CollegeLegacy Considered
Colby CollegeLegacy Considered
United States Military AcademyLegacy Not Considered
Haverford CollegeLegacy Considered
Davidson CollegeLegacy Considered
Smith CollegeLegacy Considered
Wesleyan UniversityLegacy Considered
Colgate UniversityLegacy Considered
Barnard CollegeLegacy Considered
Bates CollegeLegacy Considered
University of RichmondLegacy Considered
Harvey Mudd CollegeLegacy Considered
Colorado CollegeLegacy Considered
Macalester CollegeLegacy Considered
United States Air Force AcademyLegacy Considered
Scripps CollegeLegacy Considered
Bryn Mawr CollegeLegacy Considered
Kenyon CollegeLegacy Considered
Berea CollegeLegacy Not Considered
Bucknell UniversityLegacy Considered
Mount Holyoke CollegeLegacy Considered
Pitzer CollegeLegacy Considered
Skidmore CollegeLegacy Considered
College of the Holy CrossLegacy Considered
Oberlin CollegeLegacy Considered
Lafayette CollegeLegacy Considered
Occidental CollegeLegacy Considered
Thomas Aquinas CollegeLegacy Considered
Franklin and Marshall CollegeLegacy Considered
Trinity CollegeLegacy Considered
Denison UniversityLegacy Considered
Union CollegeLegacy Considered
Dickinson CollegeLegacy Considered
Whitman CollegeLegacy Considered
DePauw UniversityLegacy Considered
The University of the SouthLegacy Considered
Connecticut CollegeLegacy Considered
Furman UniversityLegacy Considered
Centre CollegeLegacy Considered
St. Lawrence UniversityLegacy Considered
Spelman CollegeLegacy Considered
Rhodes CollegeLegacy Considered
Gettysburg CollegeLegacy Considered
Wabash CollegeLegacy Considered
Bard CollegeLegacy Considered
Agnes Scott CollegeLegacy Considered
Wheaton CollegeLegacy Considered
Reed CollegeLegacy Considered
Sarah Lawrence CollegeLegacy Considered
St. John’s CollegeLegacy Considered
Lawrence UniversityLegacy Considered
St. Olaf CollegeLegacy Considered
Kalamazoo CollegeLegacy Considered
College of WoosterLegacy Not Considered
Wofford CollegeLegacy Considered
Hobart and William Smith CollegesLegacy Considered
Muhlenberg CollegeLegacy Considered
Knox CollegeLegacy Considered

Are There Types of Legacy Students?

While there is no tag on legacy students to identify as primary or secondary, most universities opt for the former.

For some of the schools in our list above, they do not care if your great aunt or closest uncle is an alumnus. They are only interested in “Did your parents attend the same college?”
A direct parental connection means your legacy status is primary. Otherwise, it is secondary.

This means there are two types of legacy students. Primary legacy students and secondary legacy students.

Why Legacy Preference?

Legacy preference sounds like a great idea to students with alumni parents. However, this preference in college admission has come under scrutiny by nonbenficiaries. At the moment there is an ongoing lawsuit against Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

It is okay to bother why schools include this preference during admission screening. Many have asked the same question as you.

Legacy preference dates back to the 1920s, when this mode was employed to retain slots for Anglo-Protestants in elite universities. For most schools, it is simply a way to acknowledge those who helped lay the foundation.

Those who kick against this practice suspect that legacy schools do this in expectation of huge financial benefits. Well, recent research suggests otherwise. This study reveals that legacy schools had no advantage in fundraising over non-legacy schools.

So, if this favors you take advantage of it now.

Read Also: Full List of Colleges with the largest endowment in 2024

How Do Colleges Ask About Legacy Status?

Now that you have satisfied your curiosity about college legacy status, it’s time to know which questions during your application refer to it.

Most colleges will enquire about your college legacy status with three questions.
If you are using the Common Application, you may see any of these questions while filling out your form.

  •  Are you related to an alumnus?
  • What is your relationship to that alumnus?
  • Who is that alumnus?
  • Have your relatives ever attended (name of university?)
  • What is your relationship with this relative?

Does Harvard Accept Legacy Students?

Yes, Harvard accepts legacy students. Getting into Harvard is an exhaustive task. You must be ready down to your scores and grades.

However, students whose parents had attended Harvard receive some preference. Atlantic alleges, that students who enter Harvard through legacy consideration earn lower grades than their counterparts.

It also posits that only a few of these applicants are strong candidates and deserve the spot. For Harvard, you must be a primary legacy student to receive this consideration. While explaining why Harvard admits so many Legacy students to NPR, Harvard President Lawrence Bacow says, “Their applications tend to be well put-together,”.

“They have deep knowledge of the institution. So it’s a self-selected pool, which, as a group, by almost any metric, looks very, very good relative to the broader applicant pool.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is your legacy as a student?

Your legacy status as a student implies did your parents or any of your relatives attended the same college you are applying to.

What qualifies as a legacy?

For some schools, aunts, cousins, and uncles qualify as a legacy. Mostly schools will only ask if either of your parents is an alumnus.

What is the meaning of legacy education?

By legacy education, the student is attending the same college as either of his parents or other relatives.

Does Harvard accept legacy students?

Yes, Harvard is one of the top universities in the US that accepts legacy students.


Legacy preference is a thing for most private universities in the US. It would favor your admission process if your parents were alumni of your school choice.

If not, you must fine-tune your other eligibility criteria to increase your chances of admission. This article explains in detail what college legacy means, how it affects your college application, and the top universities considering College legacy status.



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