Is Class Rank really necessary? 


Savannah Smith, Staff Writer

Class rank is an absolutely necessary component of a student’s academic record. It’s important because the class rank is a mechanism for schools to evaluate how you do relative to your peers. It’s a way, externally, to compare how you are performing academically versus the rest of the group. This is especially important for a college to use in evaluating applicants, as that college may have no idea the level of rigor in any given school. If you have top SATs and an excellent class rank, that means something– you aren’t just a good test taker.  


However, there are occasions where the student isn’t necessarily a good test taker, or an academic genius, just a professional time manager. I had a teacher tell me a story about a student who had worked very hard in the hardest programs given at their school and even earned an A in Calculus BC. He ended up being placed second in his class all because the first in his class took more classes that were easier and online with the same AP/ dual enrollment weight. This second student took these classes year round, including over summers. That boy never took calculus in high school and yet still managed to be first in his class—all due to the amount of hours he put into the easier classes.  


Students like myself who are “military brats” have a slight disadvantage coming to a different school with a different course load and curriculum. For example, at Gulf Breeze, freshmen can take AP Human Geography because it is taught here as the class that prepares you for the AP style course. At my old school near Washington, DC, if you took an AP as a freshmen, you were Doogie Howser. It wasn’t even allowed or recommended that a freshman would take an AP class because history showed that a majority would fail. Most of my freshman year teachers at my old school rarely handed out As and made it known. A benefit to Gulf Breeze is that teachers do want you to succeed and make it known, but this makes it unfair for transfer students going into a school system, halfway through high school, with a harder grading scale. It makes it incredibly difficult to catch up in class rank.  


On the flip side, those coming from the IB program have a significant advantage when they switch to GB. They automatically surpass those in class rank who’ve been in this system their whole academic careers and never had the opportunities the IB students did. Is that fair? No. But colleges take into account how many different schools you went to and the grading scale at those schools.  


Even though there are shortcuts to becoming higher ranked in the class standing, ultimately colleges see the classes a student takes and knows his or her academic history. Colleges do want you to have a good class ranking, but not at the expense of rigorous classes. They want to see the As in the difficult classes, not just a ton of classes. The next time someone says they were valedictorian, you should ask yourself what kind of valedictorian he or she was.