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The Legacy Factor

what bc law parents need to know about undergrad admissions

It’s that magical time: Your son or daughter is a high school senior, applying to colleges, one of which is Boston College. You are a BC Law School graduate. Does this have any bearing on your child’s application?

“Absolutely,” says Director of Undergraduate Admission John Mahoney. “There’s a place right on the application to list parents’ biographical information. If an applicant has a parent with a BC degree, whether it’s undergraduate or graduate, he or she is considered an alumni child.” And when the admissions staff sees that either mom or dad holds a BC degree, the application is placed in the legacy pile.

What does that mean? Well, while the vast majority of BC applications are read once and then decided upon, legacy candidates have their file examined twice: once by an admissions counselor and once by Mahoney himself.

“The Board of Trustees would like to see alumni children make up 15 percent of each incoming class,” he explains. “And we do that just about every year. Last year, for example, 1,200 alumni children applied; 600 were admitted and 320 enrolled. That’s 14.5 percent of 2,200, the size of our freshman class.”

Mahoney stresses, however, that alumni children still have to be very strong candidates to earn a seat in the incoming class. “US News & World Report ranked BC as the twenty- ninth most selective college in the country in the national four-year university category,” he says, noting that last year admissions staffers read more than 26,000 applications for 2,200 slots. “While alumni children are afforded extra consideration, and the acceptance rate is higher than the general applicant pool, legacy applicants must still have very strong credentials.”

Looking for more information? In January, legacy applicants and their parents are invited to Alumni Admissions Night, held on the main campus in Robsham Theater. (Invitations are mailed out in December.) In June, as part of the undergraduate reunion weekend, Mahoney conducts a super-seminar on the college admission process; alumni of all schools are welcome. Call 800-360-2522 or visit for information.

—Maura King Scully


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