Do you want admission to an Ivy League college but wonder what high school class rank can help you achieve this? Do you need clarification on the concept of class rank? Here’s an article that provides all the details you need to understand class rank and how it relates to Ivy League school acceptance.
The article also includes tips to help you achieve better class rank and leverage class rank for better admission prospects. But before jumping into those, let’s review class ranks and what it means for you.
Understanding Class Rank
Simply put, class rank is a representation of students’ performance. It shows the performance level of students based on the performance level of classmates or other students.
Most high schools will determine class ranks by comparing students’ GPAs. So, to get your class rank, you’ll need to compare your GPA to your classmates’. Take for example, if there are 100 students in your class; each student will receive a rank from 1-100 at the end of the semester. Your rank can show you how many people have higher or lower GPA than yours. If you rank #42, it simply means 41 students have higher GPAs and 68 students have lower GPAs than you. So, you’re ranked in the top half of the class.
Another important point to note is that grading periods may differ across different schools (semesters and trimesters). Most schools will re-evaluate students’ grades after each grading period and that’s why your position may fluctuate in each grading period depending on how well you prepare for each exam.
That said, there are two common types of class rank, explained below.
- Weighted Class Rank: Weighted class ranks use weighted GPA to determine your GPA. High schools often use weighted GPAs to better represent students’ academic accomplishments. This kind of GPA pays attention to course difficulty, so it doesn’t provide the same letter grade for every subject when converting students’ GPAs. Usually, this kind of GPA is measured on a scale of 0 to 5.0. This means that an A in some classes will typically translate to 5.0, while it can be 4.0 or even 4.5 in other classes.
- Unweighted Rank: like the name signifies, this type of rank uses an unweighted GPA to rank students. An unweighted GPA does not use any weighted scale. Thus, it doesn’t take the difficulty of a student’s coursework into cognizance. An unweighted GPA is measured from 0 to 4.0 – where an A is represented as 4.0, irrespective of the class it was earned from.
How Do Schools Measure Class Rank?
Apart from knowing what exactly class ranking is, one question students often ask is how schools measure class ranks. Let’s start by mentioning that there are different available methods for measuring class rank and schools can choose any one that suits their process and principles.
In the above section, we saw two popular types of class rank: unweighted and weighted class rank. Each of these class ranking method adopts a different method to calculate GPA and rank students.
But, what does it mean to students’ ranking?
Students that have taken honors or AP classes would typically see their weighted class ranks being better than their unweighted class ranks, even without scoring straight A’s in all their courses. The simple reason for this is that weighted ranks give more weight to difficult courses. Unfortunately, it means less weight to easier courses.
On the other hand, students get ranked with the same pedestal, irrespective of course difficulty when their school adopt unweighted class rank. Thus, a students with straight A’s will naturally be ahead of other students, even if they took regular courses and others took challenging courses.
Please note that class rank determines your class percentage, so you can easily tell what percentage of the class you’re in by simply looking at your class rank. An easy way to know you class percentile from class rank is by dividing your class rank by the number of students in your grade multiplied by 100. Subtract the number from 100 to get your percentile.
For example, if out of the 300 students in your grade, you rank 60th, then you’re in the top 20% of your class. See calculation below:
(60/300)*100 = 20.
Do Ivy League Schools Care About Class Rank?
Most Ivy league schools do not care about class rank. Yes, different colleges and universities have their policy regarding class rank, so it’s not surprising to see some schools assigning more importance to the number than others. But the truth is that class rank has continually lost its relevance in the admission process. After all, you’re not competing with your classmates for ivy League school admissions. Instead, you’re competing with the best millions of students that graduated the same year. So your exact class rank may not be the only determinant of your admission status.
We typically advise students that may want admission to Ivy League schools to aim for a class rank in the top 10%. After all, it gives admission officers more insight into your academic abilities. However, remember also that Ivy League colleges consider many factors during admission, and your class rank is just one piece of the puzzle.
What Do Ivy League Schools Look for in a Student?
Ivy league schools are typically difficult to gain admission to or graduate from. This is so because students always prefer them because they are prestigious institutions. However, being incredibly selective means that students often wonder what it takes to get into Ivy League colleges. So, we’ve dedicated this section to reviewing some of the characteristics they focus on when choosing applicants.
One article written by Allen Cheng (a Harvard graduate) for Preschooler.com aptly explains what Ivy league schools seek in applicants. “Ivy League schools are always looking for applicants with potentials to change the world. Such potentials must also easily draw attention. Put differently, Ivy League schools want students that are capable of carrying and reinforcing the prestige of these schools.”
While being able to change the world is a good goal, Ivy League colleges focus so much on it to the detriment of having a well-rounded sense of dedication. Thus, they are drawn more to students who show the capability of excelling greatly in a particular area.
Schools in this category also narrow their choice to students who can challenge themselves. One of the ways to identify such students is through the number of advanced courses they’ve taken and how well they performed in all.
Here, take a look at some of the requirements bog some Ivy League schools according to their websites.
- Harvard University: here, academic achievements in high school are pretty important. But beyond that, the admission committee considers other criteria like leadership and distinction in extracurricular activities, community involvement, and personal character and qualities.
- Cornell University: the admission committee at Cornell looks for students that possess specific qualities like intellectual ability, character, school and community involvement, and a passion for the university itself.
- Yale: want students that have demonstrated rigor and success throughout high school. Beyond looking at specific courses, the admissions committee want to see your ability to challenge yourself with difficult courses and do well in them.
- Columbia: here, the admission team select deserving students through a holistic process that checks every part of your application before making an admission decision.
- Dartmouth: applicants are expected to have pursued and conquered the most challenging curriculum during their high school days.
With the above specifics, you can see that most Ivy league schools do a comprehensive review of applications, with an eye towards overall course rigor combined with impressive grades.
By taking the most challenging courses available at your high school and making good grades in them, you’re setting yourself up for a strong application into any college.
Wrapping Things Up: What is a Good Class Rank for Ivy League Admissions?
Now that we’ve talked so much about class rank for Ivy league admissions, you’re probably wondering what a good class rank is. The answer depends on many factors, including your high school and the college you want to attend. However, your minimum goal should be to earn a rank that puts you in the top half of the class. So for a class of 300 students, you want to rank 149 or higher.
That’s not to say you can’t get into college ranked in the lower percentile, but that depends on the competitiveness of your school. That said, aim for the upper percentile, and you’ll be good to go. If you want to go to a more competitive college, you should aim for the top twenty-five percentile of your class. Ivy League colleges require a class rank of the top 10%.
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