The truth behind class rank

Maddie Dean, Opinions Editor

The truth behind class ranks 

Across the United States, the majority of high schoolers spend their entire high school career endlessly studying to achieve straight As. Due to the pressure from teachers and colleges, students believe that grades determine a student’s success and tend to find themselves stressing so much effort into academics to stand out amongst their classmates. But does class rank actually make students better? 

In the majority of schools around the country, high schools assign a class rank to their students. Class rank offers a numerical representation of a student’s academic achievements in comparison to those of their peers. However, at the start of the 2019-2020 school year, Cobb County decided to remove class ranks from all county high schools. While select students felt relieved about this decision, others disagree with the county’s decision. 

Using class rank allows college admissions officers to evaluate how students performed in relation to their classmates. By looking at a student’s class rank, colleges can see how applicants compare to others at their school and determine the strongest applicant profiles. However, according to Judi Robinovitz, a certified educational planner, high class ranks do not determine college acceptance. Every year, places like the Ivy Leagues deny hundreds of valedictorians. In fact, colleges do not just look at students’ academics, they also look at extracurricular activities.  According to the National Association of College Admission Counseling survey in 2015, colleges’ decisions relied more on grades in college prep classes, the quality of the curriculum, and school GPA than on class rankings. Generally, Large, competitive schools, such as the University of Georgia, look at not just your grades and test scores, but what you do outside of school. With hundreds of thousands of applicants, admissions committees use different factors to determine an applicant’s acceptance. 

Currently, the class ranking system continues to experience a plunge in popularity due to high schools ranking their students differently, which ultimately makes it challenging for colleges to compare applicants. Perhaps at certain high schools, achieving a high GPA remains difficult compared to other schools.  For example, a cumulative GPA of 4.4 at school A does not necessarily reflect stronger academic performance than a GPA of 4.1 at school B. The 4.1 student at school B may hold the number one spot in her class, while the school A student may hold a lower rank.  In short, the inconsistencies of class rank come from the lack of curricular consistency among high schools across the country ––because of different teaching styles. If grades remain unweighted, then students taking the easiest courses and earning all A’s can rank higher than students taking  AP courses. Surprisingly, not all high schools grade their students with the same level of rigor. 

Unfortunately for the top students at NC, the joy and satisfaction of seeing their higher class ranking no longer exist. However, do remember that numbers do not define a student’s academic success. While definitely worthy of celebration, great grades do not matter, spotting potential success in college requires more than just a simple glance at class rank. College admissions officers show no interest in the 4.0 GPA students possibly earned by snoozing their way through easy classes. Instead, colleges would rather see a transcript full of tough courses, a resume full of involvement and a personality full of passion for school and life.