Admitting Legacy Students

Vol. 12 No. 4


You care about your former students, whether they go on to become chemists, priests, or teachers just like the ones who inspired them in your school. You want them to remember their days in your classrooms fondly, reflecting their accomplishments with pride to their own children. And—if you and your school have done a superb job—perhaps they will wish to enroll their son or daughter in your private-independent school.

To avoid accusations of favoritism, you should pay more—not less—attention to the established procedures and guidelines your school has created for its admission process, some guides for which you’ll find in The Admission Funnel.

While it’s encouraging for alumni to wish for their own children to have the same educational experience they themselves had, admitting “legacy” students presents special challenges beyond those of ordinary applicants to your program.

For instance, consider the consequences to your grassroots marketing strategies, most of which will center around maintaining positive word-of-mouth references. If your admission policies are perceived to be less stringent when considering legacy students, the credibility of the process and your school’s reputation will be sullied, something difficult to recover from.

On the other hand, alumni can be an excellent source of funding for private-independent schools looking to expand their endowments and increase their curricula offerings; automatically dismissing alumni connections to your program can have far-reaching consequences. Giving the children of your alumni a second look may be well worth the effort. If their parents care enough about your program to make donations, their personal philosophies at home may correspond with those you look for in prospective students.

Before any other factors are considered, your primary focus should be to admit students who you believe will both benefit from your mission-specific program and will flourish in the environment you foster, both in and out of the classroom. The decision should not be solely based on whether a student’s family gave enough money to build a new science wing or a relative is part of the teaching staff or Board of Trustees.

Additional ISM articles of interest:
ISM Update for Admission Officers Vol. 11 No. 2 How to Get People Talking About Your School
ISM Update for Admission Officers Vol. 9 No. 2 Reminding Parents of the Greatness of Your School
ISM Update for Development Directors Vol. 9 No. 7 Keep Your Alumni in the Family

Additional ISM articles of interest for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 26 No. 3 The Hunt for Lost Alumni: Four Strategies to Bring Them Home
I&P Vol. 33 No. 5 Six Key Questions About Endowment

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