Another College Admissions Controversy: An Advantage for Minority Applicants


By David W. Clark, Ed.M.

What we know

The College Board, purveyors of the SAT college admissions test taken by more than two million students annually, is now sharing with college admissions offices a proprietary Adversity Score for each applicant.

The College Board has long known that there is a direct connection between income and SAT scores.

It is also true that ethnic groups have a wide variation in test scores. Asians and whites outscore Latino and African-American test-takers.

Diversity has long been a goal of college admission departments.

The College Board has historically struggled with the foundational goal of leveling the playing field for minority and low-income college applicants.

The recent cheating scandal has increased the public pressure on the College Board to treat all students fairly.

The College Board is in a highly competitive environment with a competitor, the ACT, which recently surpassed the SAT for the first time, in total number of test-takers.

How does it work?    

Fifteen factors – not all publicly available – are used to create each student’s adversity score, on a scale of 0-100.

The adversity score is not available to the applicant but is made available to every college to which they apply.

Unintended consequences

More pressure on college Financial aid budgets, already failing to keep pace with tuition increases.

In a time of demographic shifts, the sharp reduction of the college-age segment of the population will cause competition between colleges for full-pay students to increase sharply.

Next week’s topic: How college works for you.


David W. Clark, Ed.M., is an independent college admission consultant with offices in Paoli and Ardmore. He has been working with high school students for more than 35 years. David is a graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. His website is and he can be reached there.


Top photo credit: PresbyPhotos Commencement 2017 via photopin (license)

[uam_ad id=”80503″]


[uam_ad id=”80502″]

Connect With Your Community

Subscribe to stay informed!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.