Alyssa Ahlgren: Adversity Score Is Creating False Equality

Meritocracy sees no race, gender, or any group identity. It sees personal decisions, responsibility, hard work, and resilience. Sacrificing standards on the altar of fairness is not and never will be equality.

Adversity Scores

The announcement of The College Board that it is adding an “adversity score” to the SAT is another mistaken attempt to close a racial gap. Racial and ethnic disparities are seen as a moral evil because they are a product of systemic and inherent bias in society, as the narrative goes. Many advocate for affirmative action policies, diversity quotas, and reparations in order to combat perceived societal inequity. Adversity is seen as an unfair lack of privilege that must be politically reconciled, not a circumstance to overcome and ultimately a tool to be leveraged.

It’s easy to blame discrimination for disparities between identity groups. It’s much harder to dig into the details and the reality of the issue in order to find the true root cause of the disparity. Accepting that disparities are due to factors such as personal choice, culture, and individual responsibility goes directly against our politically correct culture and is viewed as victim shaming. Demonization of the issue diverts society from exploring long term solutions that could actually close disparity gaps. Instead, many opt for short term “fixes” with a mentality that the ends justify the means. This mentality suppresses equal opportunity in an attempt to equalize outcome. You cannot mandate equal outcomes without suppressing certain groups of people. Even with such a mandate, disparities will always exist.

The SAT adversity score takes into account 15 factors that are broken down into categories of neighborhood, family, and high school environments. The College Board will use demographic and census data to determine a score from zero to 100. Scoring above 50 indicates adversity while scoring below 50 indicates privilege. This is another step in removing individual assessment and opting for group data as a measuring tool. We are diminishing meritocracy and personal achievement in favor of demographic statistics. We have regressed to judging based on group identity rather than individual character. It’s the racial profiling of academia.

A significant segment of society has developed the foolish notion that life should be fair. Some people have taken it upon themselves to correct what they consider to be the injustices of a free-willed civilization. But there is no justice in attempting to create equal outcome and attempts to mandate equal outcomes results in corruption and more inequity. We are known for the American dream because we do have equal opportunity. We all have a chance to be successful, to attain wealth, and captain our own path. I’m not saying we don’t all start at differing points of economic privilege with varying advantages. Of course, we do. Certain people are born into poverty while others are not. However, we live in a country where the poor kid on the block can become a CEO and the rich kid can become addicted to drugs and jail. The outcome depends on your individual decisions.

Often, we look at adversity the wrong way. We look at it as not an inevitable factor of life but instead a wrong that must be made right. Adversity is something that we will all face in some capacity or circumstance. It’s something that, when overcome, can be leveraged to our advantage. It builds characteristics that can never be taught. The one who faces little to no adversity is the one at a disadvantage. However, there are many people in congress who think those at a disadvantage cannot help themselves without massive government assistance. Victimhood and hardship is now used as a golden ticket to government and societal compensation.

We are losing what made America unique in the first place, the understanding that adversity is an inevitable fact of life and something that will only hold you down if you let it. No man or government can stop you from achieving greatness. Adversity scores don’t make you successful. Counting points for or against you based on census data of your neighborhood isn’t a measurement of your intelligence or character. We will not help reduce disparities in outcome, and we will not help disadvantaged people by recklessly altering the system that made us the most prosperous and free nation in the history of the world. We are only aiding in separation. We are only encouraging group identity. There needs to be a culture shift, not a shift in standards. We are individuals, not group statistics, and we are not our hardships. Equal opportunity means life is hard on everyone but that the playing field punishes and rewards all the same. Meritocracy sees no race, gender, or any group identity. It sees personal decisions, responsibility, hard work, and resilience. Sacrificing standards on the altar of fairness is not and never will be equality.


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Alyssa Ahlgren

Alyssa has her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and currently works as an analyst in corporate finance. She grew up in northern Wisconsin and is a former collegiate hockey player. Alyssa is pursuing her passion for current events and politics through writing and being an advocate for the conservative movement.