PIEDAD: Class rank emphasizes number, not people




The transcript: it’s seen as a lot of things by students. It’s either a sign of hope or despair, a one-way ticket to either one’s dream school or a nightmare week’s worth of a grounding.

These students have one thing in common: in terms of numbers, they want to see high grades, and a low rank. They use these numbers to value their self-worth like the stock market.

The concept came off as bizarre to me when I received my first progress report. It’s already fairly strange that our metric for measuring educational ability is reduced to numbers and letters, but having a “ranking” for the whole class is just absurd.

It’s like the class is suddenly thrown into a Grand Prix where only the most studious make it to the podium. God forbid someone else has done more work for their community or their peers, or that the quality of “individuality” in an individual is actually considered. I don’t even know how I’d react if I found out I was dead last in the race.

I was doubly surprised when I found out this is how the valedictorian and the salutatorian are determined. Even through the rigorous AP classes that push a student and their GPA to the limit, perhaps there should be a different way to determine who should be the face of success in every class without possibly crushing their mental health.

And this race is just a qualifying session. There are still colleges and universities that rely on the rank for admission, as if the systematic grade system isn’t enough to determine the worth of a potential student.

What happened to looking at extracurriculars and the individuality of the student when those don’t affect the rank at all? It seemed as if their worth is diminishing as the numbers game continue to be as relevant as ever, even through the “highly competitive” colleges that claim otherwise.

Not every stint plays by the rules, and those who come out on top aren’t an exception. Communities are obsessed with consistent categorizing in any field, but the grading and GPA system are as they are: systems. Systems imply the possibility of exploits, and there’s no denying that grades and someone’s numbers can be gamed. 

With the advent of AP and IB courses being the only weighted classes in the system, getting a GPA greater than 4.0 requires straight As in the most rigorous of classes. It’s to the point where students choose to abandon classes that would help them in their personal career simply because they’re unweighted, as they take classes outside of the scope of their actual goals to receive those weighted points. 

Someone with a 4.0 flat GPA would be in a lower spot than expected, only because they didn’t take as many weighted classes as those on the top.

If the race to become top of the class rank is simply a sport of who can torture themselves the most with weighted classes, then is the rank really a real measure of a student’s passion in their career?

If their career is simply to fill their schedules with AP classes while getting straight As, then it would be.