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What You Need to Know About the SAT "Adversity Score"

Everyone I have run into this past week has asked me what I think about the recent announcement by the College Board that they will be assigning an adversity index to every student's SAT score. In my heart, I know that a student's adversity is so important to the admissions process. It is part of a student's story, and it is what makes my job so interesting.

But adversity can be defined in many ways. Being transgender. Being dyslexic. Facing racial or religious discrimination. Losing a parent. Or even defying family expectations can present long-lasting effects on a student. Adversity is within all of us and almost always should be shared in a student's application.

The problem that I have with the adversity index is that it doesn't capture any of the student's story. It is simply based on a student's neighborhood and high school, which we are quickly learning can easily be manipulated. In the end, there has been so much backlash against the College Board that the adversity index may be short-lived.
In the meantime, here is what you need to know and how this will affect you or your child in the coming year:

1. We still don't know which colleges will be using the adversity score.

The College Board announced that 150 colleges will be partnering with them this fall. If this list becomes public, I suspect these schools will face similar backlash and this could impact their application totals.

2. The SAT was already losing popularity before this announcement came out last week.

I anticipate a significant drop in the number of high school juniors taking the SAT this coming year which will make the ACT more popular than ever. If students haven't begun taking official tests yet, they will likely lean heavily towards the ACT.

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3. Test optional colleges will get another moment to shine.

With increasing concerns about standardized tests and standardized testing companies overstepping their bounds, more students will look to these test optional colleges as a more trusted place to apply. 

4. I think many of us are concerned with families who try to game the system.

Whether parents buy an investment property in another neighborhood or choose to send their child to a different high school in the hopes of increasing the adversity score, those choices would be risky. Not only are colleges going to be verifying information much more carefully due to the admissions scandal, but this adversity index might not last.

READ MORE: I know college admissions offices from the inside — schools basically sign off on scandal

5. Those students who are worried about having a low adversity score should focus on what sets them apart from the stereotypes that swirl around them, their neighborhood, and high school.

Being different in your family, in your high school, and in your community is the ultimate way to stand out in the college admissions process and in life.
"If you're concerned about having a low "adversity score" on the SAT, focus on what sets you apart from the stereotypes that swirl around you." TWEET THIS
In an unlikely turn of events, the testing giants are now on the defense. They are faced with adversity themselves. The public is more concerned about their intentions than ever before. Frankly, the College Board's timing could not be worse. I choose to put my faith in the younger generation. They have the power to dictate this process by choosing not to take certain tests, applying to certain colleges, and not letting others dictate their stories. As our kids know from firsthand experience, facing adversity leads to change and progress.