Legacies add to campus, too

It is not uncommon to hear a Villanova student casually remark that he or she is one of multiple members of their family to attend Villanova; statistics for the past three years show that just over one in four Villanova students have an “alumni affiliation” with the University. This means that a relative went to school here. About half of these students are “legacies,” meaning that at least one of their parents went to Villanova.

The most recent University statistics also cite a 39% acceptance rate for the Class of 2012. Meanwhile, legacies have a 69% acceptance rate, marking a discrepancy of 30 percentage points.

Legacy student status far too often presupposes that a student was not qualified for acceptance to Villanova. Many legacy students are more qualified than the average candidate. And just as academic merit, extracurricular involvement and community service are paramount to the Villanova experience that begins with an acceptance letter, so too are spirit and tradition. Legacy students, because of a familiarity with Villanova since birth, strongly contribute to the furthering of the Villanova community.

That is not to say, of course, that unqualified students with Villanova alumni parents should be accepted. Villanova should take legacy into account with the other admissions considerations. This idea is concurrent with Villanova’s legacy admissions decisions; the school is able to keep a balance between a commitment to legacy admissions and the overall high admissions standards. Legacy candidates are sometimes more qualified than the average applicant.

Just as Villanova highlights legacy applicants because they bring “something extra” to Villanova, the admissions office returns the favor with other individuals and groups who bring desirable characteristics to the makeup of the University. Athletes, underrepresented races and ethnicities and students of diverse geographical backgrounds should receive some extra consideration as their applications are reviewed.

The job of a Villanova admissions counselor is to accept students he or she believes can thrive in a university environment, contribute to the high academic standards, add to renowned athletics and become active members of Villanova’s many extracurricular opportunities. These diverse areas require diverse students who can each bring something unique to Villanova.

In the precise case of legacies, these students add an important component to the spirit and tradition of the school. These are important at Villanova, and students who can add to Villanova’s excellence in this area should not be overlooked or discounted.

Villanova’s legacy admissions percentage is not outrageous; the University has maintained a balance between merit-based and legacy-based admissions. Legacies with qualified statistics should continue to be admitted, and legacy status should remain in proportionate ratio to other qualities. Furthermore, students who bring other unique characteristics that would benefit the Villanova community should be given similar consideration as legacy students. With these qualifiers, Villanova will maintain the benefits of legacy admissions while being fair to all applicants.