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Back when I used to help students develop ideas for their college admission essays, I purchased a book called “50 Successful Harvard Application Essays: What Worked for Them Can Help You Get into the College of Your Choice.”

I enjoyed reading how students admitted to Harvard had turned seemingly ordinary childhood experiences into insightful stories. I used the book to show students that they all have stories to tell — it’s just a matter of recognizing and knowing how to tell them.

Some students, however, don’t have to worry as much about distinguishing themselves through their essays. They are the children of parents who graduated from the college they seek to enter. They are known as “legacy” admits.

Plenty of people have opinions about the fairness of legacy admissions, or lack thereof. Angélica S. Gutiérrez is one of the few academics who have actually researched the topic.

Legacy admissions have faced increased criticism in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that bans the use of race in college admissions. However, as Gutiérrez notes, the reasons that many people support legacy admissions is actually rooted in race itself.

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Jamaal Abdul-Alim

Education Editor

Critics of legacy admissions argue they maintain racial hierarchies that disproportionately benefit white students. YinYang/iStock via Getty Images

Support for legacy admissions is rooted in racial hierarchy

Angelica S. Gutierrez, Loyola Marymount University

Some colleges grant preferential treatment in the admission process to children of alumni. A researcher examines what’s behind people’s support for the practice.

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