College Trends 2014: Class Rank…Does It Matter?

Valedictorian means automatic full-ride to college, right? Perhaps that was the trend in the 1980s, but in 2014 that trend is a solid no-go. Class rank is becoming more and more discounted, partially because of the fact a sizeable portion of high schools no longer rank and partially because there are too many unknown variables behind a student’s rank. In 2011, a national survey reported that 22.6% of public high schools and 89% of private schools do not report student rank. College admissions can’t heavily weigh rank when a noticeable portion of applicants have no rank to report. Even if all high schools reported class rank, colleges would still be minimizing class rank’s role in admissions. Before colleges received thousands of applications in a single admissions year, admissions officers could take the time to analyze the variables that contribute to class rank, such as a particular school’s course offerings and methodology for weighting grades. However, now colleges have no such luxury, and not being able to analyze the contributors to class rank make it an unequal factor when comparing students. A class rank of 59 at a rigorous school might be the equivalent of valedictorian at a less rigorous school, and with uniform factors like ACT and SAT scores in the mix, such a disparity in class rankings makes them non-starters.

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