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Abstract

Despite the recent movement within higher education to eliminate preferential admission based on race, gender, and socio-economic status, colleges and universities continue to endorse the controversial practice of admitting legacy students at a significantly higher rate than any other segment of the applicant pool, especially students of color. The debate over the continuation of this practice has college officials, incoming legacies, contributing alumni, and the concerned public arguing about the legitimacy of such an elite route of access. Often ignored in this process is the personal development of the legacy student who is tightly affixed between a rock (the alma mater) and a hard place (the pressure to follow in the familial footsteps). By admitting legacy students, colleges are lowering their admission standards and doing a disservice to the developmental needs of an at-risk student population. This paper examines the practice of legacy admission, the arguments for and against such a practice, and the eventual impact it has on the students who are admitted under this preferential stipulation.