Legacy students hold a family connection with BGSU

A small percentage of the students going through student orientation, advising and registration, commonly known as SOAR, this summer will be joining the ranks of a special group of Falcons, the ones classified as a legacy.

A legacy student is defined as a student at a college or university who has familial ties to alumni of that school.

Melena Purvis, a junior criminal justice major, is the daughter of two Falcon alumni. Purvis said watching them interact with BGSU as Falcon Flames while growing up really influenced her decision.

“They were just so involved,” she said.

“Being a legacy at Bowling Green makes the college experience more relatable for me,” Purvis said. “It makes for good conversation at home, and I came here with knowledge on campus that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Typically, a student is a legacy if a parent attended that school, but some schools will extend the legacy concept to other family members such as grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles.

Vice President of Enrollment Management Cecilia Castellano said when students check “yes” to the question of being a legacy on the application, they have the option to indicate if a parent, guardian or sibling attended BGSU.

Brenna Smith, a sophomore education major, said she felt no pressure to come to BGSU from her alumni parents, but watching them interact with BGSU as Falcon Flames and watching their love and pride for BGSU definitely impacted her decision.

Smith said being a legacy student has its benefits.

“When I have questions, I know my parents will most likely have answers for me,” she said. “They know what my experience here is like, and they can give me advice and help me understand things. I never feel like I’m lost or floundering here.”

According to Castellano, about 10% of the incoming class each year is comprised of legacy students.

In comparison, Harvard University’s Class of 2022 is comprised of 36% legacy students, as reported in the Harvard Crimson. Ivy League schools such as Princeton, Yale, Stanford and Dartmouth put a great emphasis on being a legacy student according to the Washington Post, and that can severely influence whether or not you are accepted into the university.

At BGSU, being a legacy student is simply used as a tie-breaker. Qualifying items such as GPA and ACT are held to a higher standard.

Smith applied to other colleges, but she chose BGSU for the quality of her major here as well as for financial reasons.

For graduate Kyle Taylor, who pursued a degree in film and media enterprise, said finances definitely played into his choice to attend BGSU. Taylor got a discount because his mom is a full-time faculty member in the School of Media and Communication, but he also had the legacy connection. Taylor’s mom and dad were Falcon Flames and his sister was a sophomore on campus when he applied.

“BGSU has always been a part of our family,” he said. “I remember I was about 7 or 8 and we all wore BGSU gear for our family Christmas card photo.”

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“My dad was always telling stories of stuff he did in college, like his house being haunted,” Taylor said. “My mom always talked about going to college with her younger brother. I got to go to school with my sister, and my cousins. That’s a cool tradition.”

On the BGSU campus, being a legacy is more of a personal advantage than a scholarly one.

Purvis said she loves that when her family comes to visit she doesn’t have to pick the restaurant or make plans for them. Her parents know where they are and know exactly what they want to do.

Smith said: “Not having to explain how to get around BG really takes the stress off of the visit.  My parents already know where to go and how to get there, so I don’t have to worry about getting us lost.”

Joshua Yee, a sophomore sports management major whose mother and stepmother both are alumnae, said legacy students know more about campus.

“Having more background as to what the campus used to be and what it is now is one of the biggest advantages to being a legacy student,” he said.

Like Yee, Thomas Gillespie, a junior exercise science major whose uncle is an alumnus, said coming in with knowledge of the community is a benefit.  

“Knowing little places throughout the community to go that I may not have been to otherwise, like Founders Records Store or Grounds for Thought, gave me a deeper appreciation of being a student at BGSU because this college really is so much more than just the campus.”

Purvis summed up the legacy experience. She said one of the largest benefits to being a legacy student would be the relationship that exists and deepens within your family.

After all, family is the sole reason a student qualifies for this distinction.