How race, legacy and other factors play into college admissions

Learn about: How race, legacy and other factors play into college admissions from Danny Ruderman,...
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How race, legacy and other factors play into college admissions

So, you might have heard that students can get flagged, or given special consideration when they’re applying to a college. One of those things is legacy, which is typically defined as whether your parents or your grandparents went to a specific university. Sometimes, it’s also if your brother or sister goes there. It’s usually not whether your second cousin’s removed, third side- That’s usually not counted as legacy, but legacy does not get you into a school. The way that I like to describe it as, you already have to have the qualifications to get into a particular school, but if they’re trying to decide between two students with the same numbers, same general level of extracurriculars, and they can’t decide, but one student has legacy status- That student is going to probably get the nod, because they want to keep it in the family. They want to have years and years of students going in the same family to the same school. So, when legacy gets evaluated, you’re often being compared against other legacy students. So, the pile is smaller. But again, if you don’t have the initial grades, and test scores, and extracurriculars, legacy isn’t going to do much for you. On top of that, there are other flags, if you will, that admissions officers look for. That could be anything from, you’re a recruited athlete, you live in an area that is usually under-represented. So, you’re from Montana, and they really want students from all 50 states, and you’re the only one that applies from Montana, that’s pretty good for you. If you’re an underrepresented minority- Now, let’s be clear about that, because- I went to a high school, for example, where I was a minority. Now, you wouldn’t think I was a minority, but my parents didn’t go to college. My dad didn’t finish high school, and I didn’t have all of the opportunities that other kids had. So, my application was looked at, not as a minority, but they looked at it in the context of where I came from. So, Asians, for example, aren’t usually classified as underrepresented, but it depends on where you’re applying to school, because schools on the East coast have a different level of minority representation than schools on the West coast. And like I always say, you can look into these colleges to find out where your status is simply by looking online, or picking up the phone and giving them a call.
TEEN, Education, Applying to College

Learn about: How race, legacy and other factors play into college admissions from Danny Ruderman,...


Expert Bio

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Danny Ruderman

Independent College Counselor

Danny Ruderman is a nationally recognized college counselor whose mission is to help as many families as possible navigate the admissions process.  

The Fontana High School and Stanford grad is the author of The Ultimate College Acceptance System and creator of college counseling programs used by school districts across the U.S. and Fortune 500 companies. He is known for his huge forehead and helping students get into schools that really match their interests. His newest book, Top 100 Answers to Your College Admissions Questions will be released in March 2013.

Danny graduated with Honors from Stanford University and holds a BA in Human Biology with an emphasis in Education. He was named a Merit Teacher for his work at Campbell Hall School in Los Angeles and worked as an educational therapist for K&M Associates in Los Angeles. He is also a member of the Western Association of College Admissions Counselors (WACAC). He has been featured on NPR’s Marketplace, Fox News, The Los Angeles Times, Between the Lines on PBS, College Bound Magazine, The Bill Handel Show, and Powernomics. Danny is also a regular contributor to Money 101 on KFWB in Los Angeles.

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