Having served on admissions committees and known admissions counselors at different schools, I’ve seen the exact admissions percentages for legacy students.
Legacy is strictly defined as being the direct descendant of an alum. Being the son or daughter of a Princeton alum counts as an official legacy, although being related to some extent (whether a brother, a cousin, a nephew) can help, too, it just doesn’t count as an “official legacy”.
Depending on the school, legacy status can increase your chances of admissions from 2.5 to 4x (!)
This means that if the overall admission rate at, say, MIT is 6%, then being a legacy could mean your chances of being admitted are between 15% to 24%.
This is a big boost — but it’s by NO MEANS a guarantee.
There are also confounding issues here. For example, most legacy applicants are generally stronger candidates. They come from highly educated families; they usually have higher test scores; they have access to resources and opportunities that other students might not.
So if you’re a legacy applicant, look forward to a nice boost in your chances of getting into the Ivy Leagues.
But if you’re not — don’t fret! Legacy isn’t an automatic admit, and you still have a great shot if you follow my advice and focus on building your spike(s).
There are many other “secret boosts” that I’ll talk about in future essays, too, that can help you just as much, if not more, than being a legacy candidate.
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