Elite Colleges, or Colleges for the Elite?

Dear Commons Community,

There is a very good op-ed piece in today’s NY Times that touches on a higher education admissions practice that rarely gets much attention.  The practice usually referred to as “legacy” admissions involves awarding extra admissions points for children of alumni.   Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, refers to this as affirmative action for white and wealthy Americans.  Among selective research universities, public and private, almost three-quarters employ legacy preferences, as do the vast majority of selective liberal arts colleges. At many selective schools, legacies make up 10 percent to 25 percent of the student population.   The issue is worth further consideration and study as the American higher education system continues to evolve into a system of haves and have nots.  The latter point was also made by Jonathon Cole, former provost at Columbia University and the author of The Great American University, who gave a talk last Friday at the CUNY Graduate Center.

The op-ed piece can be found at:




  1. Dear Stacy,

    I agree with you and the point made by Richard Kahlenberg particularly for public institutions. Private institutions I think by virtue of being private have some leeway here. However, just about all institutions of higher education (private and public) accept some public funding if for nothing else the financial aid their students receive.