The truth about class rank

Some high schools will assign you a numerical class rank to measure your academic achievement relative to that of the rest of your classmates (Example:  you’re ranked 28th out of a class of 214).  But many high schools, convinced that class ranks foster too much unhealthy competition between classmates, have abolished class rankings.  And no matter what a high school does with class rank, I’ve found there will always be a small group of students who feels they were hurt by policy.

But the truth is that whichever choice your high school makes about class rank, it’s not going to hurt your chances of admission to college.  Most colleges find a numerical ranking to be a nice shortcut.  It makes their job a little easier.  But it’s still just one tool they can use.  

Lots of colleges assign readers to particular geographic regions.  That means the person reading your application will also be reading the applications from any other seniors from your school. They won't need a class rank to get a sense of how you stacked up against your classmates. 

Counselors also write “high school profiles” for colleges summarizing the courses available, percentage of students who go on to college, average GPA of graduates, etc.  That helps colleges assess where you rate in relation to other students.  

And if that’s not enough, most private colleges require that applicants ask their counselor to submit a “secondary school report” on which one of the portions asks the counselor to describe the applicant’s level of academic achievement relative to the rest of the class.

So don’t worry whether or not your school chooses to rank students.  You have no control over that choice.  You do have control over the classes you take, the grades you get, and the attitude you bring with you to class every day.  Get those things right, and you'll be appealing to colleges with or without a class rank to measure you.