by Andrew Smith
High school students are in constant contention with other students all over the country to land spots in selective colleges. Competition to achieve a high class rank is a positive thing in the sense that it can show the effort that many students give, but it can also create a cutthroat environment that diminishes the quality of students’ learning experience. Students should not be allowed to know their class rank until it is absolutely necessary.
The National Association for College Admission Counseling reported that more than half of high schools in the United States no longer report class rank as they do not believe that it is a valid indicator of a student’s academic ability: an excellent student could be squeezed out of the top 10 percent if they are surrounded by other high-ranked students.
Following the national trend, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School does not report rank or even a student’s deciles.
According to guidance counselor Luke Kostu, the high school does provide a profile to each college, detailing the school’s grading system as well as the classes offered. This allows colleges to assess the rigor of a student’s schedule, which is a major component of the admissions process. Students have individual control over the strength of the classes that they take, but their class rank is beyond their control.
“We only tell students their class rank if they request it, and it is also a state requirement that we rank students,” said guidance counselor Suzanne Wojcik. “Some scholarships also need a class rank in order to apply. We then confirm who the valedictorian and salutatorian are.”
According to the College Board, colleges now rely primarily on SAT scores and grade point average (GPA) so they can compare all of the students applying to their college, as opposed to comparing students at the same high school to one another. This is because colleges feel that these two factors are a more valid indicator of a student’s success. The competition with SAT scores and GPA creates an individual incentive for students to work hard without giving them a reason to drag other students down.
“There is already so much competition in school with getting into college that class rank creates another distraction, so it’s better it is not reported,” said junior Alex Gugliotta.
When students attempt to piece together rumors about where students fall in the rankings, it creates unhealty competition that is unnecessary and ultimately distracts from the more important objectives: having a beneficial learning experience and potentially gaining admission into a college.
Overall, the benefit of getting good grades is significantly greater than the benefit of achieving a high rank. The number associated with class rank is not as significant as the extracurricular activities, passion, work ethic, and character that leads to success in the future.