Goldwater Scholarships Are a Big Deal–and a Bigger Deal Going Forward!

Great news for undergraduates in STEM fields: The Barry M. Goldwater Foundation has more than doubled the number of annual scholarships it awards to sophomores and juniors who have outstanding potential to do research. Along with the Truman Scholarship, generally awarded to college juniors, the Goldwater Scholarship is the most prestigious undergraduate award. It is also closely linked to success in achieving prestigious post-graduate scholarships.

More good news: 252 of the Goldwater Scholars in 2019 are young women.

UConn Goldwater Scholars 2019

UConn Has Four Goldwater Scholars in 2019

In previous years, only a few public universities had three or more Goldwater Scholars in a given year; the maximum allowable is four scholarships. In 2018, seven public universities had three or more scholars. In 2019, the number increased to 40 public universities.

“From an estimated pool of over 5,000 college sophomores and juniors, 1223 natural science, engineering and mathematics students were nominated by 443 academic institutions to compete for the 2019 Goldwater scholarships. Of students who reported, 241 of the Scholars are men, 252 are women [493 total], and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their highest degree objective. Sixty-two Scholars are mathematics and computer science majors, 360 are majoring in the natural sciences, and 74 are majoring in engineering. Many of the Scholars have published their research in leading journals and have presented their work at professional society conferences.”

In 2018, the foundation awarded only 209 scholarships.

“Scholarships of up to $7,500 a year are provided to help cover costs associated with tuition, mandatory fees, books, room and board. A sophomore who receives a Goldwater Scholarship will receive up to $7,500 in each of his/her junior and senior years. A junior who receives a Goldwater Scholarship will receive up to $7,500 in his/her senior year.”

“Many of the Scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer science. Scholars have impressive academic and research credentials that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 92 Rhodes Scholarships, 137 Marshall Awards, 159 Churchill Scholarships, 104 Hertz Fellowships, and numerous other distinguished awards like the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.”

The public universities with four Goldwater Scholars in 2019 are listed below:

Colorado State
Georgia Tech
Massachusetts Amherst
NC State
Ohio State
Oregon State
Penn State
Iowa State
Montana State
North Texas

Those with three awards in 2019 are below:

Arizona State
Kansas State
Oklahoma St
South Carolina
Stony Brook
UC Riverside
Virginia Tech
Washington St


The New College Board ‘Adversity Score’ Explained

The College Board has developed a new data-driven tool designed to give college admissions officers the ability to evaluate test scores in light of an applicant’s educational, social, and economic background. The effort is the Board’s latest attempt to offset criticism that its tests favor the affluent, Asian students, and white students.

The new tool could also increase Latino and African American enrollment without the specific consideration of race or ethnicity, otherwise known as affirmative action, an approach that the Supreme Court might soon disallow.

So far, 50 colleges have been using the tool; it will expand to 150 later this year and be available to all schools in 2020.

The tool utilizes 15 factors (listed below) and provides a spreadsheet for admissions officers to use in analyzing the factors in relation to scores.

The new approach is certain to draw criticism, however. Students who live in relatively affluent neighborhoods, attend strong high schools, and enroll in advanced placement courses will receive low “adversity scores” and may find themselves relatively less likely to be admitted to some colleges.

Another issue: the data is based mostly on census block and other federal data, not on individual financial information. A wealthy white student might live in a gentrified neighborhood with inaccurate data indicating that it is still a lower income area. Similarly, a disadvantaged student might live just inside a census tract with high median income stats. Students will not receive a copy of the score–another area of controversy.

Students who attend highly competitive high schools in states with automatic admission based on high school class standing, such as Texas, already find it relatively harder to graduate in the top 6th or 7th percentile of their class. They are admitted “holistically” if they are not in the top percentiles; low adversity scores might narrow their chances even more. Or  help them…who knows?

On the other hand, if the new tool on its own can lead to the higher enrollment of students now benefiting from automatic admission, Texas might be able to abandon the rule altogether.

High School Information–Four Factors

  • Average senior class size;
  • Average percentage of students taking the SAT;
  • Average freshman SAT score at colleges attended by SAT-taking graduates of the applicant’s high school;
  • Percentage of students at the high school who participate in the free and reduced-price lunch program.

High School AP Opportunity–Four Factors

  • Number of unique AP courses taught in that high school;
  • Percentage of the senior class who took at least one AP exam;
  • Average number of AP Exams taken by graduates who sat for at least one exam;
  • Average AP scores across all AP Exam takers and exams.

High School Percentiles–One Factor

  • The 25th, 50th, and 75th old SAT percentiles on Critical Reading, Math,
    and Math + Critical Reading scores for graduates.

Neighborhood and High School Context–Six Factors

  • Undermatch Risk–Academic undermatch occurs when a student’s academic credentials substantially exceed the credentials of students enrolled in the same postsecondary institution.
  • Crime Risk–The Crime Risk represents the likelihood of being a victim of a
    crime–not the likelihood of committing a crime.
  • Family Stability–Family stability is a combined measure based on the proportion of two-parent families, single-parent families, and children living under the poverty line within each neighborhood, or across the neighborhoods of past students attending that high school.
  • Educational Attainment–Educational attainment is a combined measure that looks at the pattern of educational attainment demonstrated by young adults in the community. ESL participation.
  • Housing Stability–Housing stability is a composite measure that includes vacancy rates, rental versus home ownership, and mobility/housing turnover, again based on aggregate population statistics.
  • Median Family Income — Median family income is based on weighted data from the Census/ American Community Survey.

Overall context is a weighted average of the individual metrics listed above. College admissions officers receive (1) bar graphs showing the applicant’s SAT score relative to others who share the applicant’s overall percentile of neighborhood
adversity and high school adversity and (2) the average freshman SAT score of entering students at the colleges that these respective groups of students attended.