Amherst College Drops Admissions Advantage for Children of Alumni

Melissa Korn:

Amherst College is abandoning its policy of giving preference to applicants whose parents attended the Massachusetts liberal-arts school, placing it among the first elite private colleges to ditch legacy admissions.

Selective schools like Amherst have been under intense scrutiny in recent years for putting a thumb on the scale for legacy applicants, with critics arguing the programs do little more than cement the privilege of students, and leave fewer slots for applicants from less-represented backgrounds.

“We’re doing what we can to examine where the barriers are and change what we can change” as the school pushes forward on efforts to broaden access, said Amherst President Biddy Martin.

The school, which this year had an 8.5% acceptance rate, historically gave preference to any children of graduates who were academically qualified. Dr. Martin said legacies are often among the top applicants, so many may still be admitted without considering their familial ties.