Tuesday, December 7, 2021
HomePolicyAmherst College Ends Legacy Admissions

Amherst College Ends Legacy Admissions


Children of alumni at Amherst College will no longer receive an edge in the admissions process, the school announced Wednesday.

The private liberal arts school in Massachusetts is among the first elite schools in the country to renounce the legacy admissions policy that has been called out time and again for disproportionately favoring well-to-do families. 

While roughly 11 percent of students who graduated from Amherst have been children of alumni in recent years, the school said 18 percent of this year’s freshman class are first-generation students, along with a large number of students of color.

Amherst said it wants to make education accessible to all, and by terminating its longstanding legacy admissions policy, the school will create opportunities “for as many academically talented young people as possible, regardless of financial background or legacy status.”

Amherst is also investing $71 million to provide financial assistance to middle and lower-income families. “There should be no doubt that a world-class education is within reach for students from all income groups. At Amherst, that includes a need-blind admission process that offers substantial loan-free scholarship support,” the school wrote. 

Higher Education for Everyone

According to a 2020 report by the Wall Street Journal, 56 percent of the top 250 US universities favor legacy admissions. A 2018 Inside HigherEd survey revealed that an overwhelming 42 percent of private institutions acknowledged favoring children of alumni parents in college admissions. 

Legacy admissions has been criticized by students, families, and higher education officials for many years. Following the Varsity Blues Scandal, the debate gathered momentum when investigations revealed how wealthy parents had bought their kids’ ways into highly selective schools.

With this historic announcement, Amherst now joins the likes of Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pomona College, and the University of California, all of which have abandoned the policy of favoring legacies. 

“Our admission team is confident that by both ending legacy preference and clearly showing that most students can experience an Amherst education with significant scholarship support, we will see a further increase in both the diversity and excellence of our extraordinary applicant pool,” the school added.

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