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“Admissions Preferences for Children of Alumni: Who Benefits? Who Loses?” Richard D. Kahlenberg Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy New York.

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Presentation on theme: "“Admissions Preferences for Children of Alumni: Who Benefits? Who Loses?” Richard D. Kahlenberg Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy New York."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Admissions Preferences for Children of Alumni: Who Benefits? Who Loses?” Richard D. Kahlenberg Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy New York University April 28, 2011

2 Q 1: Does it Matter Who Goes to Selective Colleges and Universities? A. Higher Spending B. Higher Graduation Rates C. Higher Earnings D. Greater Chance at Leadership

3 Spending by Selectivity Note: Selectivity is measured by ranking all colleges according to the national percentile that corresponds with each college’s mean SAT or ACT score. Spending is reported in 2007 dollars. Source: Caroline M. Hoxby, The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges, NBER Working Paper (Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2009), 15.

4 Higher Graduation Rates Data limitations Note: SAT-equivalent scores are based on SAT scores or equivalent percentile correspondences of ACT scores to SAT equivalence. The correspondence was developed by ETS. Source: Anthony P. Carnevale and Jeff Strohl, “How Increasing College Access Is Increasing Inequality, and What to Do about It,” in Rewarding Strivers: Helping Low-Income Students Succeed in College, Richard D. Kahlenberg, ed., (New York: Century Foundation Press, 2010), 151, Table 3.5. Authors’ analysis of survey data from High School and Beyond, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics,

5 Higher Earnings Note: Dollar amounts are in 2007 dollars. Source: Anthony P. Carnevale and Jeff Strohl, “How Increasing College Access Is Increasing Inequality, and What to Do about It,” in Rewarding Strivers: Helping Low-Income Students Succeed in College, Richard D. Kahlenberg, ed., (New York: Century Foundation Press, 2010), 149, Figure Authors’ calculations from Barron’s Selectivity Rankings, various years; National Education Longitudinal Study: Base Year through Fourth Follow-Up, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2000).

6 Leadership Note: Undergraduate population data for the 12 schools came from each institution’s website. All population counts are for , except for those from Yale, Cornell, and Northwestern, which are for Source: Thomas Dye, Who’s Running America? (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002), 148. Current Population Survey (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008), available at retrieved August 24,

7 Q 2: How much difference do legacy preferences make? Used in almost ¾ of selective universities and almost all selective colleges. Used in almost ¾ of selective universities and almost all selective colleges. Increase chances of admissions substantially. Increase chances of admissions substantially.

8 Increased Chances of Admissions for Legacies in Three Studies Child of Undergraduate Alumnus: Legacy Bonus Legacy Bonus Legacy Bonus % 59.7 % 40 % 85.1 % Source: Thomas J. Espenshade, Chang Y. Chung, and Joan L. Walling, “Admission Preferences for Minority Students, Athletes, and Legacies at Elite Universities,” Social Science Quarterly 85, no. 5 (December 2004): Source: William G. Bowen, Martin A. Kurzweil and Eugene M. Tobin, Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education (Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Press, 2005), Source: Michael Hurwitz, “The Impact of Legacy Status on Undergraduate Admissions at Elite Colleges and Universities,” Economics of Education Review 30, Issue 3 (June 2011): pp , and Elyse Ashburn, “At Elite Colleges, Legacy Status May Count More Than Was Previously Thought,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 5, 2011, Be/125812/ Be/125812/

9 Q 3: What are the Historical Origins of Legacy Preferences? Peter Schmidt’s chapter outlines the rise of legacy preferences after WWI as one way to limit admissions of immigrant students, particularly Jews. Peter Schmidt’s chapter outlines the rise of legacy preferences after WWI as one way to limit admissions of immigrant students, particularly Jews.

10 Q 4: Are legacy preferences consistent with the ideals of a Democratic Republic? Michael Lind’s chapter on American experiment in Jeffersonian natural aristocracy vs. Old World’s artificial inherited aristocracy. Michael Lind’s chapter on American experiment in Jeffersonian natural aristocracy vs. Old World’s artificial inherited aristocracy. Carlton Larson’s chapter on U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on granting titles of nobility. Concludes legacy preferences are likely to have been viewed by founders as profoundly un- American. Carlton Larson’s chapter on U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on granting titles of nobility. Concludes legacy preferences are likely to have been viewed by founders as profoundly un- American.

11 Q 5: Do legacy preferences increase alumni giving? Surprisingly little research to date. Surprisingly little research to date. Chad Coffman’s chapter examines top 100 national universities as identified by U.S. News Chad Coffman’s chapter examines top 100 national universities as identified by U.S. News Those with alumni preferences had higher annual giving ($317 vs. 201) but once control for wealth of alumni, the difference was reduced to $15.39, and was statistically insignificant. Those with alumni preferences had higher annual giving ($317 vs. 201) but once control for wealth of alumni, the difference was reduced to $15.39, and was statistically insignificant. Concludes that with appropriate controls, “ there is no statistically significant evidence of a causal relationship between legacy-preference policies and total alumni giving at top universities.” Concludes that with appropriate controls, “ there is no statistically significant evidence of a causal relationship between legacy-preference policies and total alumni giving at top universities.”

12 Q5: Alumni giving (cont.) 7 institutions dropped legacy preferences during the period of the study and there was “no short- term measurable reduction in alumni giving as a result of abolishing legacy preferences.” 7 institutions dropped legacy preferences during the period of the study and there was “no short- term measurable reduction in alumni giving as a result of abolishing legacy preferences.” Of top 10 universities in the world in 2008 according to Shanghai University rankings, four (Caltech, UC Berkeley, Oxford and Cambridge) do not employ legacy preference. Of top 10 universities in the world in 2008 according to Shanghai University rankings, four (Caltech, UC Berkeley, Oxford and Cambridge) do not employ legacy preference.

13 Q 6: What is the effect of legacy preference on students of color? After a generation of affirmative action, is now the wrong time to pull out the rug on legacy preference just as students of color will benefit? After a generation of affirmative action, is now the wrong time to pull out the rug on legacy preference just as students of color will benefit? Chapter by John Brittain and Eric Bloom finds under-represented minorities hurt, not helped, by legacy preferences. Chapter by John Brittain and Eric Bloom finds under-represented minorities hurt, not helped, by legacy preferences.

14 Under-represented Minority Proportions of National Applicant Pool at 18 National Universities, Legacy Pool, and U.S. Population (2005) Source: William G. Bowen, Martin A. Kurzweil, and Eugene M. Tobin, Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education (Charlottesville, VA: Univ. of Virginia Press, 2005), 168 (under-represented minority proportion of entire and legacy applicant pools); applicant pool data from all 18 national schools for which authors had legacy data. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, Population Estimates Program, Vintage 2005, July 1, 2005 (minority proportion of U.S. population).

15 Texas A&M Legacy Admits in 2002 Who Otherwise Would Not Have Been Admitted Source: Todd Ackerman, “Legislators Slam A&M over Legacy Admissions,” Houston Chronicle, Jan 4, 2004, A1.

16 Expected vs. Actual Black and Hispanic Enrollment at Top 50 Elite Colleges in 2008 Expected proportion is based on the demographic group’s proportion of the traditional college-aged population. The “Top 50 Colleges” refer to the 50 national universities ranked highest by U.S. News & World Report. Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS Peer Analysis System, 2008 Four-year, Not-for-profit and Public, Degree-Granting, Title-IV Participating Institutions; U.S. News & World Report: Best Colleges 2008; U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics Digest of Education Statistics (2008), Table 227.

17 Q 7: Are legacy preferences legal? Chapter by Steve Shadowen and Sozi Tulante Chapter by Steve Shadowen and Sozi Tulante Public institutions – may violate 14 th amendment’s “equal protection clause” which is meant to outlaw discrimination based on lineage, of which race is a subset. Public institutions – may violate 14 th amendment’s “equal protection clause” which is meant to outlaw discrimination based on lineage, of which race is a subset. Private institutions – may violate 1866 Civil Rights Act which prohibits “ancestry” discrimination. Private institutions – may violate 1866 Civil Rights Act which prohibits “ancestry” discrimination. May be litigation in the near future. May be litigation in the near future.


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