Many colleges ask applicants if they have a parent or grandparent who went to the school. The student's answer is often the difference between acceptance or rejection, reports The Wall Street Journal.

At some of the country's most selective colleges, one study has shown, having an alum parent boosts the applicant's probability of acceptance by 45 percentage points. That is, if one candidate has a 30 percent chance of admission, an applicant with the exact same academic record and extracurricular activities but also a parent who attended the school as an undergraduate would have a 75 percent chance.

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