There are many different, important components of your academic profile. Grades, GPA, class selection, and of course class rank. How does the latter compare to the other components? We’ll investigate that below.
Your class rank tells colleges how you are doing relative to the other students in your grade. We’ve written about it in the context of applying to Yale, but it really applies to anywhere that you apply. Class rank can cast light on how your GPA compares, but class selection contributes to your ranking as well. The more AP classes you take, the higher you will rank because those credits are often significantly more weighted than regular level course credits. So, you could have gotten straight As in all regular level classes through your junior year, but you’ll still likely rank below a student who has gotten all As and one B, and has taken 80% of the AP courses offered at your school. It all has to do with how things are weighted.
So, onto how important it is – it’s pretty important! But not the most important. Though admissions readers do look at your GPA and believe that your GPA is important, your GPA means more within the context of your academic profile. They look at your strategy of when you take certain classes and how you handle the workloads during more intense semesters. Your class rank says more than just if you’re 4th in your class, it also speaks to your ability to time manage, prioritize, and accomplish your goals.
We always make sure that our students are thinking more critically than just if their GPA is going to improve that .1% during a certain semester. If you don’t know where you stand in the context of your entire class, ask your main office. Most schools track class rankings throughout your years in high school, so they should have access to that information. It’s important that you know where you stand—that is an important life lesson regardless of the situation. If the information is available to you, you are doing yourself a disservice by not pursuing it. We understand that the idea might be intimidating but trust us—it’s always better to know versus not know. This knowledge will also show itself in your application through your language and how you discuss your contributions in and outside of the classroom.
Let us know if you have any questions or need any tips on how to handle your class rank.