Every student looks for something to make them stand out on their college applications — that small advantage that will push them over the line between acceptance and rejection.
Lehigh students each want to leave a legacy behind, but for literal legacies — the children or family members of Lehigh graduates — the application process and Lehigh experience may differ from that of non-legacies.
Most schools will have a place to list parents’ educational background on their application. This opportunity is on the Common Application, as well as the individual institution’s supplements, where students may also list familial connections to the school. However, legacy status does not guarantee an acceptance into any institution. The admissions process takes into account all that a student may offer.
Lehigh welcomes students who will be successful, promising graduates. If children of alumni meet Lehigh’s selective criteria, that will be their reason for acceptance, not their legacy status.
According to the university’s website, a Lehigh legacy is any prospective student who has a mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle or sibling who currently attends or has attended Lehigh.
“Those who earn a graduate degree we do not count as traditional legacies,” said Bruce Bunnick, the director of the Office of Admissions.
Although Lehigh does not guarantee admission or lowered tuition to applying advocates, inclusion of legacy status in the application is encouraged.
Lehigh legacies, like legacies of any institution, share a history with the school. They may have grown up hearing stories about the rivalry football games or visited the campus several times. Some may want to retain the connection they and their family has with Lehigh, but others may feel the pressure to forge their own collegiate path.
“Sometimes I find however that students will say ‘I want to discover Lehigh for my own reasons,’” Bunnick said.
Being a Lehigh legacy means more than carrying on a family member’s legacy — it is a chance for the student to discover Lehigh and leave their own mark.
The Office of Admissions offers a special event for Lehigh alumni and their families who are in the process of applying to colleges. According to the Legacy Program web page, the Lehigh Legacy Weekend Program “will provide students and parents the opportunity to learn more about the college admissions process, experience the Lehigh Spirit, and hear about the experience of current students.” This year, the weekend took place Sept. 18-19, and gave prospective legacies the opportunity to participate in an essay-writing workshop.
“Legacies have slightly higher graduation rates,” said Jennifer Jensen, the deputy provost for Academic Affairs.
Legacies may have “Lehigh in their blood,” as Bunnick said, but growing up surrounded by the Lehigh atmosphere may have simply influenced the drive to graduate from the same school as family members.
Each legacy has a different experience. Legacies can go back several generations, or simply be the son or daughter of an alum. While some may love the Lehigh experience, the football games, tailgates and various alumni weekends, others may not share the same drive to attend their parent’s alma matter.
“Lehigh is always a topic of conversation, which almost made me not want to come,” said Emily Linderman, ’19, who is a descendant of Lucy Linderman and Asa Packer.
However, Bunnick suggested that for Linderman, who has been surrounded by her grandfather’s talk of Lehigh for most of her life, it was all about discovering Lehigh for her own reasons.
“I really wanted to make my own decisions in that respect, especially when it came to making my college decisions,” Linderman said.