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The scandal of cheating and bribery in elite college admissions isn’t the only example of privileged inequity in access to higher education. Maya DiRado Andrews says it time to end another that may have benefited her.

There’s a section on the Stanford admissions application, in between the personal essay and ‘5 words to describe you’, that asked me to list all the Stanford graduates in my family. My Stanford legacy is lengthy - grandfather, great-aunt, mom, dad, aunt, brother-in-law, sister, and now husband.

Feeling uncomfortable without knowing precisely why, I filled all the allotted lines and then some.

I was also recruited to swim. As an athlete who was actually competent in the sport for which I was recruited, the recent revelations on the college admissions bribery scheme perpetrated by cynical parents to get their mediocre children into elite schools boiled my blood.

But as a legacy student, those revelations convicted me. The news made clear what was so discomfiting about the family history question on the application.


At the heart of the bribery scandal lies the toxic belief that college acceptance confers value. That parents might go to jail over this reveals how deeply rooted this belief is. But I worry that legacy admissions are just a socially-acceptable expression of this same mindset.

As the child of Stanford graduates, I was born already rounding third base. Why on earth would I need another leg up in admissions? Stanford should be concerned with extending a Farm education to those most deserving, not necessarily those with the highest test scores or the offspring of alumni.

It’s time for Stanford to eliminate legacy admissions because they run counter to the university’s motto to ‘Let the winds of freedom blow’ by piling more privilege upon existing privilege.

If my future children apply to Stanford, I absolutely hope they get in. I’ll tell them that my time there stretched and improved me in ways I can’t begin to number. But I’ll also tell them that life doesn’t end with a rejection from these wildly selective schools. College is much more about what you make of it than where you go, something these indicted parents failed to grasp.

So if the family history section is still there when my kids apply, I’ll tell them to leave it blank.

They’ll be fine either way.

With a Perspective, I’m Maya DiRado Andrews.

Maya DiRado Andrews won four medals, including two gold, for the US swim team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.