The tradition of attending West Virginia University to obtain a higher education is one that translates through generations of families in the Mountain State.

For each of the past five years, more than 25 percent of the first-time freshmen entering the University are legacy students with a family member who currently attends or graduated from the institution. That equates to roughly 1,200 students in each new class.

Students from West Virginia are 3.5 times more likely to be legacy students than their out-of-state counterparts. Eleven percent of nonresident, first-time freshmen are legacy students, but that figure jumps to 42 percent when looking at in-state students.

As the states flagship institution, its only natural that we would receive students whose siblings or parents also attended the University,said Brenda Thompson, assistant vice president of enrollment management.As generations of families strive to increase their knowledge and education, they turn to WVU to provide quality academics at a tremendous value that is close to home.

The most common relationship for legacy students is a father who graduated from the University; almost 6 percent of the entering freshman class has that distinction. It is followed by having both parents (5 percent), a mother (4.7 percent) or grandparent (1.2 percent) who is an alumnus. Approximately 5.4 percent of freshmen have a brother who attended the University, and 4.8 percent have a sister who went to WVU .

Unlike some universities, Thompson stresses that students at WVU are admitted based on their own academic credentials and the admissions requirements of the University, and not on a family connection to the institution.

For Natalie Aliff, a senior public relations major from Bridgeport, the legacy of her familys history played a major role in her decision to come to WVU .

Her mother, Laura Aliff, obtained her dental hygiene degree from WVU and currently works as a clinical instructor of periodontics for the University, and her grandfather, Frank Stevens, was a 1963 WVU Dental School graduate, assistant dean for the School of Dentistry and well-known public address announcer for Mountaineer sports for over 40 years. In addition, her sister, Stacie, is a sophomore elementary education major, and her father is a graduate from the WVU Institute of Technology.

I grew up in a household where an education from WVU was coveted, and Mountaineer sports were a celebrated tradition,she said.Between the stories my family told about the University and the reputation of the School of Journalism, I had no question as to where I would go. I hope someday my kids will consider WVU also.