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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is the latest institution to put an end to legacy preferences in admissions. 

On Monday, the land-grant university in Blacksburg announced that it would no longer favor children of alumni over other equally qualified applicants; in the same announcement, the university said it would also discontinue the option for applicants to apply via early decision.

“Much of our recent success in attracting and graduating students from underrepresented minority and underserved backgrounds … has been achieved by lowering barriers to admissions,” Virginia Tech president Tim Sands wrote in the statement.

The announcement also said the university would remove race from consideration in admissions to “comply with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to remove race and ethnicity as an explicit factor in the admissions decision process.” Admissions officers will also not be privy to information about applicants’ racial identity, according to the university’s statement.

Virginia Tech is the second public institution and the fourth overall to axe the controversial practice of legacy preferences in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 29 ruling against affirmative action, joining the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities and two private liberal arts colleges, Occidental College and Wesleyan University.

Since the affirmative action ruling, legacy admissions preferences have come under intense scrutiny, with critics arguing that abolishing the practice would help offset some of the decision’s effects on diversity at selective institutions. Early decision has its own critics who argue, along similar lines, that the practice gives implicit preference to applicants who can afford to commit to an institution before knowing their financial aid package.

“The previous expectation in the early decision plan that students lock in their commitment to Virginia Tech well before the regular decision deadline was not a good option for all of our applicants, particularly those needing financial aid, and created unneeded pressure on students,” Juan Espinoza, associate vice provost for enrollment management, wrote in the university’s statement.

The university will still offer the early-action option for applicants, however, which is nonbinding.

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