Family tradition: Being a legacy does help in application process

Family tradition: Being a legacy does help in application process

TCU will continue to ask for family information about prospective students in the admissions process, even though some state schools have decided against it because some people say legacy inquiries are unfair.

Texas A&M University, one of the first public universities in the state to stop requesting legacy information, came under attack by the state legislature and minority-rights activists. They claim the practice is unfair to minority applicants and first generation college students.

Ray Brown, dean of admissions, disagrees with eliminating legacy questions. The admissions staff invests great care in shaping the next freshman class so additional information helps, he said.

“When you eliminate all these considerations from the admissions process, you’re left with grades, test scores and class rank,” Brown said. “That’s it: a formula.”

In each incoming class, 15 to 20 percent of the students have a legacy connection, Brown said. TCU counts legacies as students who have parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents or siblings that have graduated from TCU.

Brown said legacy students are favorable because they are repeat customers who are familiar with the school.

This is the situation for Case Martinec, whose parents, Dinah and Gary, attended TCU in the ‘70s. His grandfather, Lee Joynor, was also a Horned Frog a decade earlier. Martinec said being the son and grandson of TCU alumni was information he added to his application.

“I wouldn’t say it got me in, but it was a plus,” said Martinec, a sophomore biology major. “It was favorable because the university probably likes kids to know what school they want to attend.”

Wes Waggoner, admission practices chair for the Texas Association for College Administration Counseling, said legacy admissions are unfair because they give preference to some students while unfairly excluding some minorities and first-generation college students.

“Legacy advantage in the admissions process excludes to a great extent persons of color, persons with disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, and first-generation college students,” Waggoner said. “Students who already have many advantages in life get yet another one.”

At Southern Methodist University, legacies are looked upon as regular students who don’t get points for family ties, said Robert Bobo, a public relations officer at SMU. However, he estimated that 25 percent of the SMU incoming class have family connections to the school.

At Baylor University, the freshman class is comprised of about 26 percent of students who are legacies, said public information officer James Stean.

Brown said students are not admitted to TCU solely on connections. He said transcripts carry 60 percent of the weight, SAT or ACT carries 20 to 25 percent of the weight, and 15 to 20 percent weight is given for all other information, including: essays, counselor and teacher recommendations, the optional page, geographic considerations and choice of major considerations.