Class Rank

Is being top 20% in your class considered bad? (My class has 1050 people)

Depends on whether the colleges you are considering use class rank, and how selective they are with respect to class rank.

Texas A&M no longer has “academic admission” for top 25% rank with high enough SAT or ACT scores: indicates that, in 2018, 63% of admits to College Station were Texas residents with top 10% rank. Another 20% were academic admits (top 25% with high enough SAT or ACT scores, no longer used). That leaves 16% of College Station admits who got in through review admission. Another large number of students were admitted to programs like TEAM, Gateway, and PSA where students start at some other college or summer program (a community college, a summer session, or a different Texas A&M system campus) and transfer to or enter College Station as a regular student later if their grades are high enough.

Better than 80% of your peers is rarely considered bad.

Whether it’s competitive for college admissions is dependent on where you apply. At Harvard it would be below the typical applicant. At many schools it would be very competitive.

You tagged TA&M, so if you are asking specifically for that school, the data is above. Other schools can be better understood by looking at their CDS to see the typical distribution. Though keep in mind that class rank is reported less and less frequently and the data in many CDS’s is based on <50% of the admitted class.

Many colleges would be happy to accept a student in the top 20% of the class. It is important to seek schools that are academic and financial fits.

Outside of states with rank based rules or rank based public school admissions, the vast majority of students do not submit rank. For example, the latest CDS indicates the following percentage of the entering class submitted rank at the listed colleges.

WUSTL – 19% submitted rank
Cornell – 22% submitted rank
Brown – 24% submitted rank
Northwestern – 24% submitted rank
Stanford – 25% submitted rank

Whether top 20% (and not in top 10%) rank is good or bad depends on many factors including the students in your class and to which colleges you hope to attend. For example, being ranked top 10-20% at a selective magnet HS that is full of stellar students is different from being ranked top 10-20% at a non-selective public HS that has few quality students. Naviance or similar might provide some clues about how students with GPAs corresponding to your rank tend to do in college admissions.