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Why ‘Adversity’ Shouldn’t Be a New Advantage in College Admissions
“It’s misleading. How do you measure an ‘adversity score’ anyway?”
Martin Smith, a professor at Rowan University and an alumnus from the University of Pennsylvania, shared his thoughts over the College Board’s recent unveiling of an “overall disadvantage level”—in shorthand, an “adversity score”—to supplement students’ SAT scores.
“You can’t manufacture equal outcomes when everyone isn’t given the same resources,” he said.
Smith hails from a small town in rural Tennessee, a place that knows disadvantage all too well, yet he was less than optimistic about the new score supplement that’s meant to help less-privileged students stand out compared with their better-off peers during the college admissions process.
On a scale of 1 and 100, a student’s adversity score will indicate several factors that colleges should take into account when considering a candidate for admission.
The purpose of the adversity score is to be an indicator to college admissions officers of the socioeconomic difficulties that a particular candidate might have faced during his or her formative school years.
Any setbacks that might result in a seemingly low score might actually accrue to a student’s advantage when realizing the student’s comparative disadvantage relative to other national and international candidates.
An op-ed essay in the Atlantic magazine argues that despite the problems the new adversity score faces, it is a “long-overdue” innovation and a step in the right direction.