Class Rank Unnecessary and Outdated

Class rank puts unneeded pressure on students.

Class rank puts unneeded pressure on students.

Between extracurricular activities, part-time jobs and maintaining a social life outside of school, keeping a good GPA can be difficult, especially if a student takes multiple AP classes. While GPA is probably what people care about the most, it seems like class rank is a close second when it comes to grades. But why?

If someone were to say that they weren’t as good-looking as a certain celebrity or as charismatic as another classmate, the natural response to that would be “stop comparing yourself to other people.” So when it comes to grades, why do we get a rank every semester that compares us to every other person in our grade level? A little healthy competition can be a great thing, but class rank has served its time and become outdated.

It’s kind of hard to imagine, but there was once a time when graduating high school was a really big deal. Somewhere along the way, the idea of having students compete against each other in school was implemented in the hopes of increasing graduation rates, and that increase gave schools something to brag about.

Over the course of time, a high school diploma became necessary to get a good job, then an associate’s degree, then a bachelor’s. Over the next few years, it will probably get to the point where a master’s degree is what people will aim for to ensure they get the job they want. We live in a time where college is not a question of “Will I go?” but “How am I going to ensure that I get into the best college?” and rivalry between the top students becomes a fierce struggle to claim the best title.

Now that class rank has served its initial purpose in encouraging students to graduate, it has become a needless and inconsistent way of tracking progress. For example, someone who goes to an academically rigorous school and posts a 3.9 GPA on a 4.0 scale could be ranked in the bottom 50 percent of their graduating class due to the extreme competitiveness of all students.

Too many students beat themselves up for not getting a good rank, when in reality they have great grades and they’re just competing against a bunch of other excellent students who are only above them by a fraction of a point.

As for the valedictorian and salutatorian speeches at graduation, students could submit speeches to school staff and two could be chosen to speak. That sort of system not only takes a lot of pressure off the top students, but also recognizes individuals who might not have the best grades but are great at public speaking, and ensures that the graduation speeches will be memorable.

High schools across the nation are beginning to discontinue ranking students and colleges are looking less at rank and more at other scores that better represent the student. I think it’s time that we do away with rank as well, and put the focus back on individuals.