Are Class Ranks Important?


©The Talon News | Jaclyn Harris

Students access their rank at Argyle High School in Argyle, TX. (Jaclyn Harris/ The Talon News)

Ashlynn Roberts, Reporter

In today’s society, high school students find themselves drowning in a world of competitive SAT/ACT scores, GPAs, and class ranks. With colleges continually shrinking their acceptance rate, students are feeling the pressure to get the grades and some are willing to do whatever it takes to make the cut. Since GPAs go well into the smallest decimal places, sometimes class ranks come down to picking one more right answer on a test. Class ranks may define how well a student does in school and what colleges will look at them, but they don’t define a student as a whole.

Class ranks do matter when determining college acceptance, yet there are more factors college admissions take into account when looking at a potential student’s transcript. Besides rank, colleges look at a student’s SAT/ACT scores, club activity, and GPA, a process known as holistic review. Although class ranks are determined based on GPA values, they cannot accurately show how educated the student body at a high school is. For example, a student may have a GPA of 3.9 and be in the top 25 percent, yet at another, less competitive school, someone may have a 3.9 and be in the top 10 percent.

According to a report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), more than half of all high schools no longer report student rankings. There is a reason why school districts have decided to ban class ranks as a whole. Small, competitive high schools feel class ranks excludes excellent students from the top 10 percent. Students that could potentially be higher up in class ranks at a different school have a poor transcript because their class rank is not good enough. 

The main reason why class ranks aren’t as important as they may seem is because not all grading systems work the same way. Some school districts have their GPA on a scale of 5.0, while others are using a 4.0.  A student with a 4.0 at one school will have a 5.0 at a different school, based solely off the GPA system. Also, every high school weights their honors/AP classes differently.

Class ranks are not an accurate and reliable evaluation of a student’s chances of getting into a specific college. They do not take into account the other factors colleges consider. The only thing class ranks do is give students an idea of how they stand against their fellow classmates. If students want better chances of college acceptance, they need to put their efforts toward becoming a well-rounded student.