Date of Award
Master of Education (MEd)
Each year, admissions officers throughout the United States commit many intense months to reviewing applications to their college/university. According to the College Board, there are established key elements considered in admissions decisions, including grades in college prep courses, standardized test scores, overall academic performance, and class rank. Approximately half of high schools in the U.S. provide class rank, yet it has maintained importance as the number four factor for over a decade, trumping other factors such as extracurricular accomplishments, teacher recommendations, and interviews. A student’s rank-in-class can be used to determine their relative achievement within his or her school, to compare them to the entire applicant pool at a college or university, and to rate students for scholarship selection, along with selections for countless other accolades and financial awards. Rank is calculated across a wide span of methods using grade point averages (GPAs) that sometimes account for course rigor, and sometimes do not. So that colleges/universities might evaluate rigor and competitiveness of each applicant based on the school’s institutional priorities, I contend that colleges/universities should recalculate GPAs as provided from the high school, giving weight to what they value as an institution. Over the past year, I have dramatically shifted my belief in the way rank ought to be used. Earlier in my admissions career, I believed rank was accurate and useful. Now that I have taken significant time to consider the role of rank from the perspective of a school counselor, I realize that it is not the beacon of precision. It has become increasingly clear to me that it is the job of colleges/universities to rank high school students; it is not the job of high schools. During months spent speaking with current and former school counselors, and my own motivation to become a school counselor, I realized that it does not ultimately benefit high schools to provide colleges with rank and it does not benefit colleges to use a precise rank that is born out of one specific context.
Phillips, J. Morgan, "The Role of High School Rank in College Admissions:" (2008). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 180.