The Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. (Valerie Mosley/Special to the Colorado Sun)

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Colorado made news in May as the first state in the nation to ban legacy admissions at its public colleges. But few colleges in the state even consider an applicant’s family ties to a school, so what does the law really change?

The answer, advocates say: perception.

They hope the law especially helps people of color, as well as low-income and first-generation students see these institutions as open to them.

Supporters believe the ban on legacy admissions makes a statement about who Colorado values in being admitted into college and clarifies the role of family ties to a school.

Sarah Staron, a University of Colorado Denver graduate student, helped push for the bill because of the weight she believes perception plays in college applications. She recalls classmates wondering in lunchroom conversations whether having a family member who went to a university meant better odds in being admitted. That speculation can keep certain students from applying, she said, and the perception that legacy admissions ensured you were a shoo-in to a school.

The new law sends a clear message, Staron said. “We are saying that we will not stand for inherited privilege in Colorado.”


Jason Gonzales is the Higher Education and Legislative Matters Reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado. Previously, he covered K-12 and higher education for The Tennessean and Brunswick County for the Wilmington Star News. He is a 2018 Education Writers...