Legacy is a hot topic in U.S. college admissions. Though high levels of academic achievement in a challenging curriculum are helpful, gaining a competitive edge in college admissions can also involve who you know rather than what you know.
A 2011 study of 30 elite colleges found that the children of undergraduate alumni were, on average, 45.1% more likely to be admitted than students without a previous connection to the school.
But legacy students are only a small fraction of those admitted to college every year and there are many other ways that students with no prior connection to a school can distinguish themselves from the rest of the applicant pool.
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