Is Class Rank Still Relevant?

Amanda Miller

The last thing someone who has been working their whole high school career to achieve a higher grade point average (GPA) than everyone else in their class wants is to hear that class rank may not matter anymore in the bigger scheme of things. However, this may actually be true.

For those who are unfamiliar with how class rank is determined, it is a mathematical summary of a student’s cumulative GPA compared to other students in their grade. By adding up the points a student earned for each grade they achieved for each of their classes, and then dividing that by the number of classes the student is taking, we get the cumulative GPA.

Due to the differentiation in curriculum and grading criteria, colleges, especially bigger public universities, have recently been looking less at class rank, and more at grades, strength in curriculum, and marks students receive in college prep courses. Some schools have even considered getting rid of the class ranking system all together; namely a system of public schools in Wisconsin. According to US News, the district is seeing that high schools that have discarded the system are seeing more of their students go onto attend competitive colleges. New York Times even claims that class rankings may harm the chances of a high school’s very best students getting into better schools; a claim backed by district officials who believe that many of the best students are overlooked when schools report class rankings to colleges. According to a recent report by the National Association for Collage Admission Counseling (NACAC), more than half of all high schools in the nation go without reporting class rankings.

Of course, it really depends on what kind of school a student plans on attending. Big public universities and technical schools are more likely to not consider class ranking when choosing students. Smaller, private universities and Ivy League colleges, however, are a lot more likely to consider them.

Our own high school Registrar, Mrs. Davies, whose job is to take care of student records, process transcripts, and keep track of grades, believes it is a big part of how colleges choose students, though. It is also a big part of Honor Societies, both in high school and in college.

Looking at the class ranking system on a national scale, it might be easy for one to argue that it is really only an effective system within a school, or school district. It’s also possible that a student who gets straight A’s in five classes, might outrank someone who gets straight A’s in eight classes, simply because three of those classes aren’t weighted, which ultimately brings their total average down. Speaking of weighted grades, there are many universities out there that will not accept an AP credit, or toss aside weighted GPA’s (ones that include honors and AP classes) all together.