Legacy Counts…on Both Ends

(The first picture is the original building where my Nana stayed in her later years; the complex to the right is the modern day nursing facility operating today. It flanks the Atlantic Ocean. My mother always wanted an ocean view.)

The process of getting kids into competitive higher-ed schools and older relatives into nursing homes is ironically similar, as you’ll note when you read the following.

The news hit the airwaves recently that “legacy” matters greatly in kids getting into universities and colleges of their choice. I wrote a piece for our state newspaper, years ago, about what I discovered when my child went through that torturous college application process where one meets every requirement a college lists and then goes into a massive pool of contenders who compete for the coveted slots in the incoming freshman class.

Everything’s given weight of varying degrees: SAT scores, academic record, outside activities, references and recommendations, activities/sports, the interview. What I knew we’d always be up against, too, was “legacy students”, those students applying whose parents had already gone to those same colleges and universities.

Oh, you can complain that “It isn’t fair,” but the selection committee is human, meaning if they see two students who are pretty much equal (and darned if I can see any difference among those top contenders who have every single category nailed in the performance arena), they will undeniably give the nod to the one whose ancestors have already shelled out big bucks to support that institution (via tuitions, etc.). Anyone who denies this is out of touch with reality.

Legacy status is probably the one understated qualifier that most schools seldom acknowledge. But recently, a report arrived that lifted the lid on the practice. And I’ll add another element to the legacy equation: It’s not only institutions of higher-learning that use it as qualifier.

Some years back, my mother needed to go from her assisted living unit into a nursing home. She qualified—almost overnight (the result of recent hospital bouts and diminishing health) for the more continual care provided in those facilities. The problem? We didn’t have her on any waiting lists (for the good facilities.) It posed a serious problem.

In desperation, I pleaded her case. I went to the director of the nursing home we’d selected and told her everything I knew would matter: Mom wasn’t on many medications (a real boon in her favor); she was mobile, for the most part; she’d been named “Sweetheart at Greenwich Bay Manor” the month earlier at her assisted living facility attesting to her ability to brighten the atmosphere for others. I showed her the picture of Mom proudly wearing the crown….

The director demurred: “There’s a long waiting list”…”I’m so sorry, but I really can’t do anything”…”My hands are tied.”

And then I brought out the heavy artillery: “My grandmother (my mother’s mother) was one of the first ‘graduates’ of your facility.” I told her how I used to accompany my Mom, as a young girl, to the original building for the elderly, to visit my Nana. At the time, the facility was one giant open ward whose many beds were set up like barracks’ cots. We’d take Nana out for walks on the grounds which fronted the ocean, and she always enjoyed the view.

The director sat musing, digesting all that I said. She said she needed time, that she’d get back to me in the days ahead, that she needed to look at numbers. I told her, too, that ‘time’ was the one thing we didn’t have, for Mom was due to be released from the hospital at any point. But I thanked her, anyway.

I didn’t have to wait long….Just as I made my way down the long driveway of the grounds, I got a call on my cell phone telling me Mom could come, after all. “They’d found a place for her.”

Do I think it mattered about the paucity of Mom’s meds…her wonderfully-bright outlook and pleasant demeanor…her mobile state? Of course. But I know, too, that legacy and the story of my grandmother being in their “first graduating class” mattered, too.

Biddy knows that, just as I know that I’ll probably ‘graduate’ from there as well…………

***Please send this post or link to others who may be dealing with this situation. And the rest of you? Keep this morsel of information tucked away ’til the time you need it. As the boomer class explodes in the the years ahead, there’ll be ever more competition for limited slots in nursing facilities, and all criteria will matter….

This information will become just another tool in your arsenal, compliments of Biddy.

In the meantime, if you’ve your own instance of “legacy” and how it’s affected you and yours, please share by hitting “Leave a Comment” or “Comments”–Your e-mail address is never shared…You can even give yourself an anonymous name or a carefully-crafted “other.”

(Click on Huffington Post link below to read new statistics concerning legacy students’ admission into elite colleges/universities. It finally confirms what I suspected many years ago. )


About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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