Dear College Board: Your adversity score system is broken

Madeleine Katz, Online Editor

The amount of adversity that students have experienced can’t simply be judged by their “neighborhood environment”, “family environment”, and “high school environment”. These categories can’t even begin to determine or show how much adversity a student has faced and putting students into boxes of how well they should be performing due to these factors is a dangerous road to take.

The concept of sending colleges a number score that shows how much adversity a student has faced in the opinion of the College Board is flat out biased and dehumanizes students and their experiences. There is so much more to a student and their life than their environment indicates, and students should be the ones getting to explain the adversity they have experienced, not the College Board.

There are places on most college applications where students can explain anything that they would like the college to take into consideration, which many students opt to use to show the adversity they have faced. Colleges can learn much more about the adversity a student has faced from the student’s own words than by a score that comes from an organization that knows nothing about a student other than how they perform on standardized tests and some basic statistics regarding their environment.

The fact that students don’t even have visibility to their adversity score makes it even worse.The College Board could portray a completely inaccurate account of the adversity level a student has experienced and the student would never know.

This new system that claims to measure adversity, doesn’t even take into account some of the most important factors that lead to adversity.

Being different from the people that someone is surrounded by is a major factor that contributes to adversity and the adversity index doesn’t take that into account at all. For example, a student who comes from a low income family who goes to school with high income students could easily face more adversity than a student who comes from a low income family but goes to a school where the average income is similar to their own, yet the student that faces less adversity because they are surrounded by people with similar circumstances would receive a higher adversity score because of their high school environment. The same example can apply to students who encounter racism because their race is in the minority at their school.

There are countless factors that say more about the adversity a student has faced than the ones that the College Board has decided to take into consideration. The College Board will award adversity points to students that come from a single parent background but doesn’t award points to students who have been abused in a two parent household. Students whose parents are in a bad marriage could experience adversity because of the bad marriage, but they wouldn’t be given adversity points at all since their parents wouldn’t be divorced.

The College Board shouldn’t judge adversity based on the amount of money the homes cost where students live because in many cases, parents spend so much money on a house in an area where the schools have high ratings that they can’t afford to pay for additional tutoring such as SAT tutoring and test prep while other parents might have bought a cheaper house and saved the extra money to get their child test prep.

The bottom line is that the new adversity score feature isn’t going to even out the college playing field, it’s sending out of context statistics to colleges that will likely end up harming the very students that actually experience adversity.