Uncategorized | 3:21 pm | May 4, 2011 | By Emily Wanger

Brenzel: preference for legacies decreasing

Preference for “legacies” in admissions is decreasing, according to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel.

At a panel discussion at New York University last week, Brenzel discussed legacy admissions at Yale with Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and Daniel Golden, an editor at large at Bloomberg, the New York Times reported.

“We turn away 80 percent of our legacies, and we feel it every day,” Brenzel said while on the panel. He added that this year, Yale rejected more children of the University’s Sterling donors — a classification for some of Yale’s most generous contributors — than it accepted.

Contrary to Brenzel’s statement, Kahlenberg and Golden argued that many elite colleges offer substantial advantages to legacy applicants. Kahlenberg said one study has found that being the son or daughter of an undergraduate alum increases a student’s chance of being admitted by 41.5 percent.

Brenzel disputed Kahlenberg’s data, and said legacies only make up 10 percent of the 2010-11 undergraduate class, while they accounted for 31.4 percent in 1939.

Comments
  • River Tam

    > “We turn away 80 percent of our legacies, and we feel it every day,” Brenzel said

    That means they accept 20% of their legacies, which means that their acceptance rate for legacies is pretty much double the overall acceptance rate, meaning their acceptance rate for legacies is MORE than double the acceptance rate of non-legacies.

  • mrosett

    There’s an omitted variable though. In general, children of Yale alums will probably be more qualified than the average applicant. So even if legacies are admitted at a higher than usual rate, it’s hard to tell how much of the difference can be attributed to the preference for legacies. It’s an empirical question. One easy way of estimating it would be to look at the admit rate for Harvard legacies who apply to Yale, since presumably Harvard legacies and Yale legacies are close to equivalent.

  • River Tam

    > It’s an empirical question.

    One that Kahlenberg apparently answered: An increase of 41% is due directly to the legacy status. The rest is due to other variables.

  • tedmosby

    River, there’s no indication that this is an advanced econometric study that controls for all the appropriate variables and finds the true ceteris paribus effect of legacy status. It’s an unnamed study cited by a member of a leftist think tank trying to make a point about the evils of privilege.

  • claypoint2

    For whatever it’s worth, President Levin is on the record (more than once) as saying that both the average grades and test scores of admitted legacies are higher than the average grades and test scores of the rest of the class. If there is indeed a preference for legacies (and I believe full well that there is), at least it doesn’t come at the cost of diminishing academic standards.

  • claypoint2

    From a YDN article dated March 29, 2010:

    “Whatever their connections to Yale prior to applying, legacy applicants are not considered separately from the rest of the application pool, Brenzel said; legacy students receive their primary evaluation from the same admissions officers who read the applications of the rest of the students applying from the relevant school and area, he said.

    And while legacy students are admitted at a higher rate than other applicants, Brenzel has said in the past that legacies generally have higher qualifications as applicants, and after they matriculate, they usually outdo non-legacy peers who had comparable grades and standardized test scores as applicants. According to Yale’s most recent Common Data Set, alumni relation is a considered factor in applying to the College, along with volunteer work or first-generation college status.

    Still, the number of legacies in the current freshman class is at a 13-year low; in the class of 2013, 12.7 percent of students have legacy status, according to figures from the Office of Institutional Research. The proportion of Yale legacies peaked in the 1980s, when nearly one fourth of incoming freshmen in 1980 had a parent attend Yale. Since 1992, the percentage of legacies at Yale has oscillated between 15 and 11 percent, according to the data.”

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    Let’s not forget that good YHP legacies generally apply to Y and H and P. Getting into all three is tough even for excellent applicants. It would be a silly situation if, for instance, a Yale legacy got into H and P but not Yale. Surely there are all sort of incentives for YHP to give a little bump to the very best of their legacy applicants.

    As for Sterling donor legacies? Take the next 20 on the list and drop 20 mediocre athletes who would have never gotten in without sports. It wouldn’t affect our big network TV football contracts at all. Zero is still zero. The Sterling types would pay off and could not possibly be more estranged from the concept of university education than are some of the athletes around here. (Keep the athletes who might become Supreme Court Justices or marry Jessica Simpson, though.)

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