Harvard Legacy: Down with Affirmative Action!

Oh my. From the Crimson:

Helping those with primarily low academic qualifications into primarily academic institutions makes as much sense as helping the visually impaired become pilots. How would you feel if you were assured before going into surgery that your surgeon was the beneficiary of affirmative action in medical school? I do not see why higher academic institutions should lower their standards for admission.

PLOT TWIST: the author is—hiss, hiss!—a legacy:

In a way, I am the product of a sort of affirmative action, and it takes a terrible psychological toll. My father went to Harvard College, which makes me a legacy. I am kept up at night by the thought that simply because my father has attended and donated to the University, I might have taken the spot of a more qualified applicant. My name is not exactly “Sarah Wigglesworth Hurlbut Coop,” but I am still a legacy, and the thought of its bearing on my admission is somewhat terrifying.

May blogs diagnose new disorders? The author appears to be suffering from the delusion, largely indigenous to New England and the Tri-State area, that life is like the Harry Potter universe, where young wizards are admitted to Hogwarts by way of pure destiny and magical envelopes, rather than SAT tutors and enormous parental donations. This legacy actually seems to believe that she could not have attended any other school, or just not applied to Harvard in the first place, thereby saving her years of suffering, of thinking she doesn’t actually belong at Harvard.

And to answer the burning question: of course she took the spot of a better applicant. Probably a far better one. What else are legacy admissions for? Rescuing endangered animals?

7 Responses to “Harvard Legacy: Down with Affirmative Action!”

  1. anon Says:

    Harvard and Princeton take the most legacies of any of the elite colleges. Well over a quarter of each class are legacies. I am not sure they honestly report their qualifications in reference to the total acceptances.

  2. False. Says:

    Slightly <15% of each class is legacy.

  3. anon Says:

    Why is it better to take a rich kid with tutors and bad scores over a minority with no tutors and bad scores?

  4. anon Says:

    Interestingly, legacy students are (on average) more qualified than recruited athletes.

  5. GGt2 Says:

    Just FYI, the picture you used here is doctored. After Yale did that prank and produced a kind of disturbingly long and detailed mini-documentary about it, a grad student (who was sitting on the Yale side and didn’t remember the words being legible) did a pretty sophisticated analysis of various photos of the event and concluded that that single image was basically created in photoshop.

  6. J.K. Trotter Says:


  7. Kwesi Aaron Says:

    The greatest flaw in this logic is the assumption that past academic performance is an indication of potential. Poor scores on the part of minorities is more an indication of lack of preparedness than absolute lack of ability. The people accepted to elite schools have demonstrated such potential in one way or another or else they don’t get accepted. I didn’t get accepted to any Ivy League Schools, but I was accepted to Boston College and am doing quite alright there, though my scores may not have suggested so. Affirmative Action is an effort to give those with a lack of opportunity the opportunity to hone their skills in environments conducive to learning and growth, rather than serving as the wedge between poor people and opportunity. Not to mention the graduation rates are 85% or better for the most part so these schools do a decent job of selecting those who actually have potential and eventually achieve. Which flower is more exotic? The desert flower or the rainforest flower? AA is not a replacement for ability, it’s is merely opportunity. There are “Gentleman’s C’s”, but no “Black C’s”

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