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Family Exhausts Legacy Quota, Youngest Son Forced to Work Hard


Photo by SEVENHEADS // CC0 Creative Commons

Penn alumni Paul (C ‘84) and Shannon Fredericks (C’ 84) had a relationship that seemed like a fairy tale. They met freshman year in a writing seminar at Penn and fell in love the moment the second time they laid eyes on each other (the first time was when Paul spotted Shannon throwing up after a frat party). They got married after law school graduation and settled in a suburb of Philadelphia to establish a family. Paul and Shannon had four beautiful sons, and each one of them wanted to one day follow Mom and Dad and study at the University of Pennsylvania.

Their eldest sons, Ron (W ‘14), David (C ‘17), and Charles (C ‘19), were all accepted to the University. While their academic performance was above average, there may have been a few “ties” that their legacy status broke. Maybe Dave got an additional glance at their application, and Ronald got a typo or two ignored in their essays. Their youngest son, Joey, had always thought he was going to join the ranks, too.

Everything seemed fine until they got an email from Penn.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Fredericks,

As you know, the University of Pennsylvania honors its alumni with special consideration for their children and grandchildren during the undergraduate admissions process. We value the contributions your family has made towards the mission of the University, and have given Ron, David, and Charles a second look during the admissions cycles to which they applied. However, the University limits its to three children for each family to preserve the diversity of our student body.

For this reason, future applicants to the University of Pennsylvania from your family will not be recognized with “legacy” status. We thank you for your understanding and continued support, and hope you will remain in contact with the University.


Amy Gutmann


Joey was devastated. His brothers got in on being the children of graduates, but he would have to get accepted through much more unjust admissions criteria: merit. He had no idea how or where he would find the necessary components of his application. His SAT scores were average, his GPA was suffering, and he had no substantial extracurricular activities. He could no longer rely on anything else, and he realized in that instant that it was time to turn his high school life around. In a flash he saw his Sunday golfing and hunting over break and drinking every weekend disappear, as they were replaced by tutoring, studying, and volunteering. Suddenly, Joey would have to do the one thing he feared the most: work hard.

When asked to comment, Joey began to talk, but was reminded of his Physics test he was planning to bomb. “I — I, uh, better get on top of that,” he said before leaving in a hurry.