Although ten members of her family are University alumni, LSA senior Rachel Warnick said she does not feel she deserves any bonus for what her parents did.
“I already benefited from my parents achievements by having exposure to two parents with graduate degrees. I should not get extra points for that,” said Warnick.
As a legacy with a parent who attended the University, Warnick received four points from the LSA Selection Index – more than the three points admissions officers grant for an ‘outstanding’ personal essay. The Selection Index grants up to a possible total of 150 points for applicants. Applicants can also receive one point if their grandparents or siblings attended the University.
University Provost Paul Courant said legacy status is one of many admissions factors because alumni contribute to the University by volunteering to recruit students, serving on advisory boards and assisting with fundraising.
“Building alumni ties that last across generations is one way to ensure that alumni remain loyal and committed to the well-being of the institution over the long haul,” Courant said.
But alumni financial contributions also play an important role in assuring the University’s financial health, Courant said.
Children of donors are not guaranteed points, but their applications can be further considered by the Admissions Review Committee and 20 points can be granted at the provost’s discretion, he added.
“The University does field inquiries about applications from donors, faculty, active alumni, legislators and others who have a close and supportive relationship with the University,” Courant said.
“These individuals may alert the admissions director to students who they believe merit additional attention.”
Courant said the use of the provost’s discretion policy has diminished during the past three years.
While Warnick doesn’t believe in getting extra points for legacy, there are others who defend it.
“It was good for me. I didn’t know about my (grade point average) it was only a 3.6. If you are lacking in some areas it helps to make up for it,” LSA senior Tristan Kladzyk said.
“I think it is fair. I might not have gotten in had I not had those points,” she added.
LSA sophomore and legacy student Ben Mueller also supports the University legacy system.
“I think it is fine the way it is. They shouldn’t change the legacy points. (Legacy) should play a part in the admission process,” Mueller said.
“If you have had relatives going here since the University opened, you should be rewarded with points,” Mueller said.
In addition to the University, many schools across the nation also consider legacy status in their admissions. Jim Kolesar, director of public affairs at Williams College, a private college in Williamstown, Mass., said legacies are important because universities need the financial support of alumni, and many current students will also donate after graduating.
“Colleges, especially private colleges, are in some way a social contract for generations,” he said.
If a qualified student with legacy status is rejected, the “social contract would be frayed,” Kolesar said.
But, there are those who remained vehemently opposed to the University’s legacy policy.
“It does not say much about you and how you will perform if you have grandparents who went here. It has more to do with the school wanting to increase donations – it is not very academically placed,” LSA junior Lesley Felsten said.
LSA senior Tyniece Stevenson said she finds it odd that legacy, which has no academic implications would play a part in her admission to the University.
Michigan State University does not take legacy into account when deciding admission. Admissions Director Pamela Horne said they look exclusively at the students’ credentials.
She said the college is able to do this because they received a land grant and do not depend on alumni to such an extent for financial support.
“We want a wide range of backgrounds represented, the land grant mission and heritage implies that first-generation college students are very welcome here,” Horne said.
“Alumni children are as welcome, but they are not given any special edge in the admissions process,” he added.
In addition to the fact that legacy is not an academic credential others oppose it on the basis of race.
“In the past, there were more whites who attended this school than blacks. I don’t think it is intended to be racist but it could have racial effects,” LSA legacy recipient and sophomore Carlie Haberl said.