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How important is class rank?

GreeningGreening Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
edited November 2012 in Parents Forum
We moved over the summer and DS is a senior. He was in the top 8% at his old HS. His grades were merged with his first trimester grades at the new HS and has now dropped to the top 11%. He just finished his common app and the new HS will be using their transcript to send to colleges. Will the fact that he is no longer in the top 10% affect his chances at some reach schools? We moved from a very small school to a very large school. They offer many more honors and AP classes here and students take as few standard classes as possible to boost GPA. DS has taken all the available honors and AP classes at his old HS and then filled his schedule with standard classes and electives, even taking a class during lunch. I don't see how he can fairly be compared to students at his new HS.
Post edited by Greening on

Replies to: How important is class rank?

  • HuntHunt Registered User Posts: 26,871 Senior Member
    He should ask the guidance counselor to explain this in the GS recommendation. If he is taking the most rigorous curriculum available in the new school, he should ask her to check that box, too.
  • GreeningGreening Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    I will make sure he talks with the guidance counselor. As far as most rigorous curriculum, he had signed up for 4 APs and had to take 3 other classes required to graduate. One week before school started he was told they couldn't fit AP Spanish in his schedule and picked 2 classes for him, one was an honors. So, no he does not have the most rigorous schedule available, but I don't believe this is his fault.
  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 Registered User Posts: 6,033 Senior Member
    Greening wrote:
    I don't see how he can fairly be compared to students at his new HS.
    "Fair" isn't really a factor in the issue of college admissions. What reachy schools is he considering?
  • GreeningGreening Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Vanderbilt and Cornell
  • HuntHunt Registered User Posts: 26,871 Senior Member
    Really, all you can do about this is make sure it is well explained in his application. Ask the GS to do so, but he may want to put something in his own essays or additional information to make this point.
  • blueiguanablueiguana Registered User Posts: 7,496 Senior Member
    I wonder if anyone has ever done this, or knows if it's possible...
    What if the OPs son requested an official transcript and profile from the old high school that would show his class rank and GPA there as of the end of last year, and send that as part of his application package along with the new transcript where the grades, gpa, and rank have been merged, with rank being recalculated. This might give greater context. His class rank from the new school is his class rank, but putting it in context that the student obviously has no choice in where they live, if the parents move, what opportunities were available to him grades 9-11, and is now being measured against students what have had these opportunities all along. All this does is show what he had available years 9-11 so he can be judged more fairly. They may not look at it at all, but they might and that could help.

    Thoughts? Worth a shot?
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 21,028 Senior Member
    D2 moved junior year. When we had the disagreement of how to convert her old grades to the new school's system, the GC suggested we sent both school's transcripts and profiles. So it is definitely possible.

    In OP's case, his son moved senior year. I may even ask his old school for the LOR and transcript, because after all they know him better than his new school.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 63,550 Senior Member
    Check the college's common data set, section C7, to find out how much class rank matters at the college.
  • momofmusician17momofmusician17 Registered User Posts: 603 Member
    Why not use his unweighted GPA? Would this help? You can use either on the common app.
  • SteveMASteveMA Registered User Posts: 6,079 Senior Member
    Greening--it's about as fair as it can get. You said that the new school has more AP classes than his old school which probably means that the kids he is being compared to have more AP classes on their transcript than your son and being a larger school there is more competition for those top spots. It's a lot easier to be a top student in a small school and admissions counselors do know that. Being top 11% in a larger school, especially if that school has a good reputation for being challenging will mean more than being top 8% in a not so good school.

    Also, most rigorous doesn't mean that every class is an AP class. Each school has their own definition but given that your son takes mostly AP/honors classes, there is a good chance that they will check the most rigorous box.

    I'm pretty sure they will send the transcripts from both schools though. That is a requirement on the application isn't it? They will need to see his courses and grades from previous years.
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 21,028 Senior Member
    It is not possible ot take AP courses if they are not offered. On the other hand, if OP's son were given the opportunity to take those APs, he may have done very well. He is being "peanalized" for something that's his fault and the ranking may not even be reflective of his capability. For that reason, adcoms often compare applicants within their school/state/region, because comparison always needs to be in context. Adcoms look for student's potential to do well in college, not necessary what he/she has done in high school
  • GreeningGreening Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Thank you for all the feedback. We are waiting to hear back from the GC. I believe the best solution is to submit transcripts and profiles from both schools. At the very least I would hope the GC explains his situation. I'm sure it is not uncommon for students to move just before their senior year. Hopefully the colleges will take this into consideration.

    ucbalamnus: I checked the common data set and class rank is very important for a few of the colleges he is applying to.
  • SteveMASteveMA Registered User Posts: 6,079 Senior Member
    oldfort-I still don't see it as being penalized. If a school doesn't offer AP classes, that is taken into consideration at schools and those students still get a check for the "most rigorous" and being top 10% in a school like that is a cakewalk compared to more rigorous schools where being top 10% means a LOT. I look at the classes our kids have taken compared to the offerings in some schools around us and just laugh yet the top 10% kid from that school has opportunities the kids from our school that are in the 11% percentile do not. When college place a heavy weight on class rank (or scholarships that are for a class rank) it's an advantage to go to a school that doesn't have as rigorous of a curriculum.

    Our school doesn't weight grades because those become meaningless in college applications. They DO weight the class rank however and if you don't take a rigorous schedule you can't graduate in the top of the class no matter what your GPA is. I know a few kids that have never taken a hard class, honors or AP and have 4.0's. Without that rank weighting, they would be in the top 10 of the class above kids that have 15+ AP classes. That is "fair".
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 24,946 Senior Member
    Yes, you need to send both transcripts. The new GC should mention how well he acclimated (academically and socially) and how he sought out- successfully took on- the new rigor. He'll be looked at as a kid who transferred and how he adapted will matter- (in some cases, it's a preview of how he will adapt to college.) So, if he joined activities, took on some role at the new hs, the new GC can mention that as well. Yes, you can include a supplemental LoR from the GC or a teacher at the old hs.
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 21,028 Senior Member
    SteveMa - I think the piece you are missing is that those top tier schools are gauging students' potential, not what they have learned in high school. My kid's private school's curriculum was harder than most schools in our state. If top tier colleges only care about what students have mastered in high school then they would be taking more than 50% of kids from my kid's high school, and those colleges should just not admit any students who didn't graduate from handful of top ranking high schools.
This discussion has been closed.