Within the past couple of months, there’s been talk about potentially getting rid of the class rank within the Roseville Joint Union High School District.
Some have claimed that it causes unnecessary competition among students fighting for valedictorian and salutatorian, the number one and number two class ranks, respectively.
As a senior, I completely understand this, but I have a different perspective. While it does potentially create feuds between students, in my personal opinion, it’s nothing like the many TV shows and movies depict. In reality, few to no students really care about their class rank, and it’s really based off of who “games the system” the best rather than the most intelligent students. Instead today, it’s has increasing importance from the college acceptance perspective.
Some smaller schools only offer 2 AP classes. Some – like Roseville – offer 24. A student from the smaller school may take all of the AP classes the school offers, and a student from a school such as Roseville could also take two. If I’m a college admissions officer, how can I decide which student is a more competitive student if they both have an unweighted, 4.0 GPA? That’s where class rank is incredibly key to the decision-making process.
If each school had class rank, I could make a decision based off of their class rank. In this hypothetical situation, the student from Roseville wouldn’t have that great of a class rank, but the student from the smaller school would most likely be #1 in their class. The student from Roseville, compared to their peers and according to their GPA, isn’t challenging themselves academically. Meanwhile, the student from the smaller school is challenging themselves as much as they realistically can.
As much as class rank is a good way to establish a student as a competitive applicant, at Roseville and others it does fall short. GPA is only raised above 4.0 when a student takes an AP or Dual Enrollment class, but other classes can be much more challenging – for example, Project Lead the Way.
Though PLTW doesn’t offer a similar GPA raise, it does still show colleges that the student is challenging themselves. PLTW is in no way a College Prep class, and colleges know that. Going back to the hypothetical, if the student from Roseville had 2 AP classes yet had taken all of the PLTW courses, the college would most likely disregard the class rank.
Outside of the rare cases such as PLTW, class rank is still a relatively good standardized way to compare students across the country. It may create conflict within schools, but it’s still vital for college admissions to compare students nationally. I currently despise myself for defending the college admissions process, but I see their reasoning.
While seeing a number that compares you to your peers on a transcript can be detrimental, standardized testing scores do the same exact thing. If we’re going to get rid of class rank, we may as well get rid of testing altogether.
In order to grow as a district and school, instead of abolishing class rank completely, we should consider possible compromises. We could look into keeping class rank, but only allowing our counselors and colleges to have that information; we could allow students to “audition” for graduation speeches, and give val/sal to students who are strong public speakers and we could give students who graduate in the top 10 a special award at senior awards night.
There are endless alternatives to this “problem” instead of getting rid of it altogether. Students with high GPA’s should still be rewarded, and it’s just as unfair to strip students of that honor.