Rocket Fumes: Does Class Rank Really Matter?

Alice Lin (‘22), Editor

As you may know, when applying to colleges, students have to fill out applications containing information such as their academics, extracurriculars, and even about their class ranks. So what is class rank? Class rank is used to measure a student’s academic performance by comparing their grade-point average (GPA) with other students in their same class. In a school that calculates class rank, students can be ordered from first to last based on GPA.  

RMHS uses “decile” class rank, which means that students are not placed in order from first to last, but the school does calculate who is in the top ten percent, twenty percent, thirty percent, and so on.

If a school uses pure class rank, there will always be someone who receives last place. Overall, grades can’t represent everything.  You are yourself, and you are unique in a way that can’t be captured by your grades alone.  But, many still debate the idea of having some kind of class rank.  So, I asked two students, “Does class rank really matter?” 


Sabine May (‘22)

I prefer having class rank, especially now that I’m applying to colleges. The more information that an admissions officer has, the easier it is for an applicant to stand out, and so being able to put your GPA in context is important. We should be making it easier for students to brag about themselves on their applications, no matter what area they excel in⁠⁠—grades, sports, clubs, work experience, or other. Removing class rank does the opposite.


Theresa Hall (‘23)

In my opinion class rank does not matter. A student’s academic performance doesn’t entirely determine how smart they are. A student might be good at a certain subject but also be a bad test taker and receive low grades. The fear of being at the bottom of a class rank adds unnecessary stress and pressure to students. It can be toxic to compare academic abilities and grades with other students. Students should not have to be worried about the grades their peers are getting. Most students are able to access their GPA which gives them a good idea as to whether their grades are below, meeting, or above average. They don’t need to compare their grades with other students in a class rank because they can determine where they stand based on their GPA privately.