Colorado is believed to be the first state to enact such legislation, according to state Rep. Kyle Mullica, one of the bill’s sponsors.
“As a first-generation college student raised by a single mom, I can remember the anxiety I felt filling out the college application when they asked if I had family that had attended the institution,” Mullica told CNN.
“I remember wondering if I said no if it would hurt my chance at getting in,” she said. “With House Bill 1173 we are making sure students get into school based on merit and their hard work, and not their family relationship to the school.”
Legacy preferences largely privilege White students
Today, the practice is still employed at many of the nation’s most selective colleges and universities — and experts say it perpetuates racial and economic disparities.
Children of color are less likely to have a parent who graduated college compared to their White peers — meaning they’re less likely to get the admissions boost that often comes with having a parent who is an alumnus of a particular school.
“Legacy preferences, almost by definition, help the already advantaged,” Kahlenberg said. “If we want a genuine meritocracy, then we would want to give extra consideration to students who have overcome hurdles because their academic record probably doesn’t reflect their full potential. Legacy preferences do precisely the opposite.”
About 70% of Asian American children lived in a household with a parent who graduated from college — the highest of any race or ethnicity.
Other schools have gotten rid of legacy preferences, too
While Colorado may be the first state to ban legacy preferences, some institutions have already taken the lead.
Many colleges and universities have come to see legacy preferences as a source of alumni donations. But research suggests that might not be the case.
But alumni of selective schools disproportionately make up the nation’s leadership class, Kahlenberg said, and also tend to have higher earning potential.
“It does matter who attends selective colleges, because it can put students on an entirely different trajectory and life,” he said.