Click here to go to the NEW College Discussion Forum

Discus: Ivy League Schools: Harvard University: 2004 Archive: Legacies
By Internet_Guy (Internet_Guy) on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 - 09:14 am: Edit

Have any legacies been accepted yet? I have yet to hear from Princeton, though I will give the mailman the rest of the day as I am an international student as well.

By Hightower (Hightower) on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 - 02:21 pm: Edit

I'm a legacy accepted EA at Harvard.

By Alphachimp (Alphachimp) on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 - 04:24 pm: Edit

I'm a legacy deferred EA at Harvard.

Very kind of them, considering the breadth of our contributions both to the governance of the institution as a whole and to the endowment.

My scores werent bad either: 1550, 800, 800, 740, 710, 700, 660, 93.3 avg. Several really involved ECs, good recommendations (at least I think), and highly competitive high school.

By Hightower (Hightower) on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 - 07:55 pm: Edit

Alpha, you got screwed man, but you should have a great shot regular decision. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

By Alphachimp (Alphachimp) on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 - 09:33 pm: Edit

The worst part is that my dad, the Harvard alum, died in 2001 (he was 3rd gen, graduated one year before Dean Fitzsimmons).

My avg. from my tough hs is the only thing that's not great on my app. Still, considering that I had to deal with losing my best friend, I'm pretty proud of my scores.

Thanks for ur confidence man. It has been a real letdown, but I really hope to see you next year.

By Collegegirl08 (Collegegirl08) on Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - 08:45 pm: Edit

Alphachimp, I know the Ivies are very unpredicatable and that nothing is really guaranteed. However, I certainly believe you should have been accepted. Legacies help very much. Your scores are also great! I can't seem to figure out why you were deferred. I was just deferred from Brown and I know how frustrating it is. Best of luck to you,though, and I'm sure the Admissions Committee will realize how much you can contribute to Harvard.

By Purple_Fiish (Purple_Fiish) on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 09:21 pm: Edit

Sorry if this offends you or fustrates you, but what is a purpose of being a legacy? Legacy means you're (from here on, "you" as in anyone...not talking to a particular person) simply a child of a Harvard alumus, so what really is the significance of this? Because you somehow happened to be born into a father or a mother that happened to have gone to Harvard, you get special priviledges?

It hardly seems fair. If the American education system is working harder and harder towards to be fair (with things such as need-blind, etc), then why is it working BACKWARDS by considering such factors the applicants themselves really do not have much to do with, like alumnus relations?

I myself am a "legacy," but I did not put it in my application when I applied EA; I was deferred. I'm not bragging or anything (since clearly, i did NOT make it in), I am just wondering what other people's opinions are.

By the way, Alphachimp, I respect you and hope you get accepted RD.

Thanks all for hearing me whine, I'm looking forward to your responses. (And if you get bored or just feel like putting your thoughts here, I'd be interested to see what you think about Affirmative Action. I'm a minority..and yeah, you guessed it, I didn't put that in either. However, I think my thoughts are changing regarding that topic..)

By Jimjunior (Jimjunior) on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 11:45 pm: Edit

Those billion dollar endowments don't come from nowhere. When you put down legacy status teh admission office calls up the alumni office to check contribution history.

By Purple_Fiish (Purple_Fiish) on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 12:15 am: Edit

Aha. Thanks. That's what I heard, but I was a little skeptical. So what they wanted (as usual) was money.


By Anothernycdad (Anothernycdad) on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 12:42 am: Edit

Purple Fiish: How did you not put down that you were a legacy? Is it a box to check?

This seems a little fishy to me.

Or, maybe the admissions committee felt unkindly toward you for not filling out all the questions.

By Alphachimp (Alphachimp) on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 09:49 am: Edit

Thank you all for your vote of confidence. What scares meis that everybody was telling methat I would get in until Thursday.

anothernycdad,the Harvard application (common app) does not have, as most other applications do, a special section where you can list your contacts in the institution. Instead, they surmise, imagine from the interview and the parent's unioversity section that u are legacy.

It certainly is idealistic of you Purple Fiish to think that you can succeed based only on your merit. I guess in the end you have to decide how important it is for you to get into the institution. By not listing your URM and legacy status you definetly hurt your application, yet you felt good because you had not accorded yourself any advantages. Unfortunately, nearly every other applicant tries to give themselves an advantage, and you no longer stood out from amongst the applicant pool.

If I were you,I would contact Harvard and update them of your URM and legacy status. That way, you may be better positioned to fight them from the inside.

By Hightower (Hightower) on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 10:11 am: Edit

Purple Fish,

If the entire human race behaved in a way which you suggest- intentionally NOT making use of strategic advantages, no matter why they exist- then we wouldn't get ever gotten very far. That's like saying don't use your intelligence because some people are born stupid. Yeah, the system may not be completely "fair." But if you want to go Harvard, you should use what you have.

By Foreignboy (Foreignboy) on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 10:39 am: Edit

I agree. All's fair in love, war and college admissions.
However, people, don't get the attitude of 'I should have gotten in because I'm a legacy.' Being a national champion at something or having some other outstanding EC should count for much more than a legacy.

By Purple_Fiish (Purple_Fiish) on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 11:55 pm: Edit

Thanks. I will take all your words to heart, and will consider (ahem, I know..) calling them and letting them know. I'm still thinking, though. Meanwhile, I hope to keep visiting this site, so keep posting..

By Anothernycdad (Anothernycdad) on Saturday, December 20, 2003 - 01:05 am: Edit

I remain dubious re. claims made by Purple Fiish, to whom the questions remains: Exactly how did you not indicate you're legacy status? Or URM status.

By Hightower (Hightower) on Saturday, December 20, 2003 - 11:28 am: Edit

Actually yeah that's interesting because there's not a box to check for legacy on the Harvard application. They only see/surmise legacy from the spot on the app or common app that asks you to list the institutions your parents graduated from. Does this mean PurpleFish just didn't put a college down? That would suggest first generation college student status- a different advantage altogether. URM status Purple probably just didn't check a race box, that's easy enough to "not indicate"

By Alphachimp (Alphachimp) on Saturday, December 20, 2003 - 01:10 pm: Edit

First off, that means that Purple Fish lied on the app, something that's gonna be hard to explain. Secondly, don't they use the interview to figure out if you are a URM or not?

I definetly understand what you are saying Purple Fish, but I just think your method of protest is inherently flawed.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, December 20, 2003 - 01:36 pm: Edit

They don't use the interview to figure out whether a student is a URM or not. Just how could an interview prove that?

For instance, I went to Harvard with some African Americans with blond hair, blue eyes and pink skin. In some cases, they weren't even biracial, but came from generations of light skinned African Americans. Some identified far more with the African American community than did classmates who looked more typically African American.

People who lie on their application in any way may be found out during the interview if they say things (and the interviewer includes these in their report) that conflict with their application. The interview, though, isn't supposed to be a spy hunt.

By Thenamek (Thenamek) on Saturday, December 20, 2003 - 01:45 pm: Edit

Then again, Harvard's massive endowment probably doesn't hinge so much on individual alumni's contributions, which (frequently) aren't too large to begin with (compared to the entire endowment). Harvard's alumni network is powerful enough to defer/reject legacies - that's why legacy status may not be as important at Harvard as it is at, say, Brown. Consequently, a "legacy" box is not included on the Common App - though, it must be noted that if your parents went to Harvard and you do the application properly, Byerly will know. (They can read, after all.)

By Purple_Fiish (Purple_Fiish) on Saturday, December 20, 2003 - 09:42 pm: Edit

Thanks all for many interesting points.
Anothernycdad, Hightower is right, I simply left the part of the application where it asks for my dad's (who is the parent that went to Harvard) info. blank.
Hightower brings up an extremely important point that escaped me altogether: in leaving that blank, I was lying. However, I promise I wasn't trying to obtain "a different advantage altogether," I was just stupid and didn't think of how it could've made a difference; I wasn't thinking of leaving it blank as a lie. I'll call in and let them know about this.
As for not indicating that I'm a minority, hightower is once again correct: I didn't check the "If you wish to be identified with a particular ethnic group, please check all that apply:" box.
Just to add, I did not mention the legacy also because of more personal reasons (not so peachy relationship with dad right now). My first post, though, was less of "what should I do?" than "why do you think there is even a space in the app to indicate minority and/or legacy status?"
At the interview, I told the interviewer what I just said, that my dad is an alum, but I didn't indicate on the app because I did not want to be associated with my dad. (but once again, that isn't my point..even if i weren't having some issues with my dad, i still would've wondered WHY legacy matters and still would've thought it wasn't fair.)
Heh. Sorry for my utter stupidity. I still can't believe it myself. Urgh.

By Alphachimp (Alphachimp) on Sunday, December 21, 2003 - 12:34 am: Edit

wow, I feel bad for you for letting your problems with your dad mess up your app. good luck working that out with your admissions officer...

By Prevarication (Prevarication) on Sunday, December 21, 2003 - 12:42 am: Edit

im not a legacy anywhere, though i wish i were. while it undoubtedly gives people an unfair advantage, i feel it would be stupid of them not to use it. if someone really wants to go to harvard and they can make it easier on themselves, then i say go for it. i wouldve done the same thing. on the other hand, it is very unfair for people like me. i applied to harvard RD and despite my higher than 1500 sat score, national merit semi finalist status, and other things, i doubt i will get in. im white, i didnt donate millions (or anything for that matter), i am not a legacy, and aside from my credentials, ive got nothing going for me.

but hey, use whatever hooks you have. thats what life is all about, anyway.

By Hightower (Hightower) on Sunday, December 21, 2003 - 01:20 am: Edit

Purple Fish best of luck with everything, I think they'll be understanding if you choose to explain the circumstances.

By Purple_Fiish (Purple_Fiish) on Sunday, December 21, 2003 - 05:17 pm: Edit

Same goes for the rest: best of luck.
: )

By Alphachimp (Alphachimp) on Monday, December 29, 2003 - 04:50 pm: Edit

yeah same here

I have a question, mostly for hightower, although I guess that any other legacy type person could answer it. Since my Harvard parent died I've lost all of our "connections" with the University, so I really don't know this kind of thing.

Is there some sort of office or person at Harvard that has to do with alumni children applying to the University? I mean, one of my friends suggested that there was an office of "alumni development", but I looked it up on the internet and it was just for contributions (which we certainly do).

I guess my question is, when you applied to the University, did your dad get in touch with some office or department?

By Foreignboy (Foreignboy) on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 07:10 am: Edit

"Is there some sort of office or person at Harvard that has to do with alumni children applying to the University?"

There is one at UPenn. but the other ivy league schools aren't supposed to have one.

By Coureur (Coureur) on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 12:24 pm: Edit

I don't know if Harvard is any different, but at most schools legacies don't have to do anything special other than indicate their legacy status on the application by specifying when and which degree their parent earned. After that the school marks your file as a legacy and it gets whatever boost that school gives to legacies.

I think the only reason you or a member of your family would need to contact anyone over this was if their was a huge donation to the school also in the offing.

By Celebrian23 (Celebrian23) on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 05:44 pm: Edit

its really not fair for people like. Is anybody else out there the first person in their family to want to go to a prestigous school? I feel like im the only person out there who isnt a legacy. How much does being a legacy reaally help you?

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 07:41 pm: Edit

At Harvard, allegedly being a legacy gives a tip if there are 2 equal candidates. Many outstanding legacies, however, are rejected.

According to Harvard adcoms, legacies also tend to be stronger candidates than are nonlegacies. IMO, that's probably because their parents not only know what is required for Harvard admissions, but the parents also would be embarrassed to have a kid apply who wasn't qualified for admission.

Most applicants are not legacies.

By Stalingrad (Stalingrad) on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 07:56 pm: Edit

Sibling legacy is getting more and more focused on since a parent and child may grow up in different environments, while siblings usually grow up under same conditions. For example, if I have a sister that goes to Harvard they can see how hard she works and how focused she is and I am very likely to be similar because of the environment we both grew up in.

By Foreignboy (Foreignboy) on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 09:50 pm: Edit

But shouldn't you be able to gauge how focused/smart/hardworking a candidate is by looking at his or her stats/ECs/Essays/Recs/All the other stuff they force us to submit?

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 11:04 pm: Edit

From what I have seen of Harvard, I have not seen sibling legacy as being viewed as that important.
In fact, I know of at least one instance in which a student with high stats and impressive achievements was rejected despite having a sib who was a Harvard alum.

In addition, sibs can differ greatly from one another. Just because a Harvard student is passionate about academics, hard working, a compassionate, ethical person doesn't mean their sib will be the same despite being raised in the same environment. My kids differ greatly in personalities and academic work ethic despite the fact that both have the same parents, same level of intelligence and grew up under similar conditions.

To Foreignboy: Something like 80% of Harvard applicants qualify for admission. There are not spaces for 18,000 outstanding, hardworking freshmen who desperately want to go to Harvard. As a result, it is factors such as legacy, diversity (including of SES, schools, ECs regions of the country, legacy/nonlegacy), interview, essay that often make the difference between admission and rejection.

By Hightower (Hightower) on Thursday, January 01, 2004 - 04:26 pm: Edit


Hey. I didn't contact anyone special, although my father did take me to a couple of local alumni meetings in my area and I was able to meet some of the local alums. One of them wrote a letter for me. But as far as the application itself goes, I only did what it asked.

By Spacecadet (Spacecadet) on Wednesday, January 21, 2004 - 06:17 pm: Edit

Before I start, I would just like to warn anyone reading this message that I may come off as a little biased. If so, it's completely intentional. As witnessed in this discussion room, way too much emphasis is being placed on Ivy League schools. A lot of the authors in here don't even seem concerned about getting through Harvard, Yale, Princeton, what have you--it's all about getting in. I'm sure many of you have certainly worked incredibly hard in high school, judging by the superior grades and test scores that some of you have rather immodestly mentioned, and I wish you all luck on getting into these schools. But yeah, some of your cherished seats at Upenn and Brown may have already been taken by more undeserving applicants—for example, the unmotivated pothead in my class who got into an Ivy League early decision due to his father’s position as one of the school’s prized professors. These policies are unfair, but the people in this discussion room shouldn’t care so much. If Harvard doesn’t want your scholarly butt in their hallowed halls, it isn’t the end of the world. There are so many other excellent schools…hello, Swarthmore, Stanford. The Ivy League isn’t at the top of the food chain.

By Alphachimp (Alphachimp) on Thursday, January 22, 2004 - 01:19 am: Edit

First off, it is much harder to get in than to get through. The very fact that you have been accepted is an affirmation of that. Yes, preference is given to certain candidates. At my school, for instance, everyone accepted by MIT was a girl (and more guys applied...). Yet still, I havent been accepted at Harvard, so maybe these preferences you speak of arent that great. (clearly, if your dad is president of the university, you cannot be rejected, but that goes everywhere in life. the pothead you speak of will either flunk out or not get a job once out. i wouldnt worry too much about him).

You seem very biased, and I'm sorry that you think that of us. True, we will all go to good schools. No question about that. For me personally, it's the realization that I stand to destroy a 108 year family tradition by not being accepted/attending. That's what keeps me going with this school. (Otherwise, I could just go to Colby/UMich and party it up.) To go to a school other than Harvard would forever make me a disgrace to my family (yes, I know, it sounds sad).

Sorry if this is incoherent, but I'm very tired...

By Wo4567 (Wo4567) on Thursday, January 22, 2004 - 11:31 am: Edit

my parents went to community college undergrad, my mom went to RIC masters (social work) and Dad to Smith College (social work)... so i feel ya Celebrian.

By Spacecadet (Spacecadet) on Thursday, January 22, 2004 - 02:27 pm: Edit

Alphachimp-- I appreciate your response to my message. But I must hold firm to my opinions and correct some misinterpretations. I don't think badly of the people who post in here, but I think that they care too much about what will in as soon as 5 years be an incredibly trivial matter, and it just doesn't seem healthy. The unhealthiness of it all seems to manifest itself in your desire to maintain this longstanding family tradition and in your fears that you will disgrace your family if you don't get in. I can't relate to the immense pressure you evidently feel with the Harvard family tradition, but I must say that it greatly upset and disturbed me to learn of your fears of not getting in. Why would you want to go to a particular college just to uphold a tradition? You should do what you want and pursue your own interests; your family will have to accept it. It is actually harder getting through college than getting in--if you go to Harvard, you aren't exactly going to be doing high school-level work. I'm sure you'd have a great time at Colby or UMich--I have friends and cousins at both wonderful schools who are having the time of their lives.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Thursday, January 22, 2004 - 02:38 pm: Edit

I agree with virtually all of your message. The one exception is that it's definitely harder to get into Harvard than to get through it.That's why something like 93-95% of Harvard students graduate from Harvard, yet only 1 in 10 applicants is admitted.

By Hightower (Hightower) on Thursday, January 22, 2004 - 05:33 pm: Edit

Nice post Northstarmom, those numbers make it pretty clear which is harder.

By Dadx (Dadx) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 09:10 am: Edit

I might offer that if only 10% of the people currently admitted could get through, there might be a slight decline in applications over time. :)

By Spacecadet (Spacecadet) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 02:42 pm: Edit

God, I get it...whatever, you'll see.

By Almostdead (Almostdead) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 11:38 pm: Edit

i don't think the level of difficulty should be judged by the numbers... to get in, you just had to do well in high school... which is pretty easy to do... to get through, there's so much more responsibility and so much more work to do. The 93-95% only indicates that most people are willing to overcomes such difficulties... but certainly don't make them any less.

By Spacecadet (Spacecadet) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 11:39 pm: Edit

Thank you.

By Hegemonhenenen (Hegemonhenenen) on Saturday, January 24, 2004 - 12:29 am: Edit

There will always be people in your life that will be that way.
Deal with it.
I have.

By Spacecadet (Spacecadet) on Saturday, January 24, 2004 - 01:02 pm: Edit

Good for you, man.

By Scarletgirl (Scarletgirl) on Saturday, January 24, 2004 - 06:05 pm: Edit

Alphachimp, did you mention your best friend in your app?

By Alphachimp (Alphachimp) on Sunday, January 25, 2004 - 03:31 pm: Edit

what...im confused...

By Blaaaaah (Blaaaaah) on Monday, January 26, 2004 - 05:07 pm: Edit

Hm, I guess it's a bit weird for a Yalie to post on the Harvard board, but if we're talking about legacies, I have a pretty interesting story to tell. I'm a freshman now, and I'm in a suite of 7 nice, cool guys. Nothing strange so far... However, I'm the only one who isn't a legacy and one of the two of us who didn't go to a private school. This case definitely is an exception because if you go across the hallway to the other suite, only one of them is a legacy.

That aside, I do have to agree that coming to an Ivy isn't everything. I was lucky enough to get into Yale (I was flat out rejected by Harvard, by the way...), and I really love it here (Harvard sucks, anyway... blahblah :D). However, I can't shake the feeling that something is strange when Yale admits about half of it students from private schools when only about a tenth of America attends them. Similarly, the presence of so many legacies around me almost makes me feel out of place. An above post mentioned that when there are so many qualified applicants, schools will default to diversity and legacy to fill the competitive spots. Am I the only one who thinks that those two concepts are almost inherently opposed to one another? An emphasis on legacy status will simply mean that people from the same socioeconomic circles will get admitted over and over. I mean no offense to the legacies on this board, and I'm sure that you're all really qualified and intelligent people. But while I realize that each person is unique and being a legacy doesn't mean that you conform to some type of mold, I don't think that the "everything goes in admissions" argument justifies the emphasis that it gets in the admissions process. Doesn't the overall schooling experience lose something as the student body isn't an accurate respresntation of the real world (especially if you consider the percentage of applicants who are legacies to those who aren't...)? Or perhaps I'm supposed to hang out with ivy graduates forever?

That said, good luck to all you. And don't fret if you don't get into Harvard. First of all, if you ask any of us in New Haven, Hahvahd sucks =P. But second (and most importantly), there are many great non-Harvard, non-Ivy institutions around America. With the stats that you guy have, you'll do well in life regardless. And if you're really set on going to Harvard for some reason or another, just kick the LSAT's ass and go to law school there. I mean, you saw Elle Woods do it (with her really, really realistic 179...).

By Alphachimp (Alphachimp) on Monday, January 26, 2004 - 09:25 pm: Edit

um...nice writeup, except it makes me feel even more undervalued for being a deferred multi-gen legacy. ugh. maybe theyll take me second round, or maybe they want to send some sort of message by crushing my dreams.

Report an offensive message on this page    E-mail this page to a friend
Posting is currently disabled in this topic. Contact your discussion moderator for more information.

Administrator's Control Panel -- Board Moderators Only
Administer Page