How Much Do Colleges Care About Legacy In College Admissions?


Legacy is a controversial term in college admissions. If your family went to the university, legacy can help you in the admissions process at some universities. But often we get questions about how much it helps, what legacy is defined as, and how you can maximize your chances given legacy. In this article, we will go over these questions using data that we have extracted at Synocate over the past 6 years.

What is Legacy?

Most people define legacy in college admissions as having a family relation who attended the university in the past in the most flexible sense. In practical terms, the strongest legacy connection are your parents and grandparents. Those outside of the immediate family like cousins and uncles can be considered legacy and should be listed on the application. But understand that these relations are not as strong as direct family connections.

Legacy proves to colleges that you have a certain interest in the school and that you have a familiarity with the culture and value system. It also proves that your family is probably more likely to commit funds to the university. Both of these statistically help universities increase their yield rate and their financial metrics on average.

How Much Does Legacy Help?

There is a lot of debate around how much legacy helps in the college admissions process. Instead of jumping head first into this debate, we will use data we have uncovered about preferences. We have found that colleges rank legacy on a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the most important.

Using a quick sort on, you can see that schools like Notre Dame, Carnegie Mellon, and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill mark Legacy as a 3. Among the Top 50 universities, not one has marked it as very important. Only 3 mark it is as important.

You can create a free account there to sort and filter by college in the "Data" tab.

About 40% of colleges in the Top 50 mark legacy as considered but not important and these include several of the Ivy League colleges like Harvard and Princeton.

To understand how specific colleges think about legacy, please visit our free site at under the "Data" tab to see that.

What Can I Do if I Do Not Have Legacy or if I Do?

If you do not have legacy at any schools do not worry. Many students who get into the Top 50 schools do not have legacy. In fact, more than half of the students we help at Synocate do not have legacy and they have received acceptances from all of the Top 50 universities.

On our website you can see in the "Data" tab that we have 18 variables across the Top 50 schools. Other variables like GPA and SAT are actually weighted as very important by the majority of universities and you should be focusing on these in any case.

If you do have legacy, include schools who consider legacy but also make sure that you are competitive on the other 17 metrics that they consider in the college admissions process.

You can see more reports on a school-by-school basis for free on our website at