How does a super-small class size affect how colleges view class rank?

My class has only 32 people. In order to be in the top 10% like most people advise for elite schools, I would need to be #3 and higher. I don’t know my exact rank (it’s currently #8 (25%) but my counselor has yet to add some classes to my transcript, so it is higher) but I don’t think it will be #3. My weighted GPA is 4.3, and my UW (when factoring in those classes) will be 3.9, which I hope is competitive enough.

Given that there is such a small sample size in my class, will colleges be more lenient when it comes to class rank? Or do they not care?

There is no magic cutoff at 10%. Schools take your entire record into context. Also, if your HS is highly competitive and well known to colleges they also use that information.

I would ask the question the other way around. Do 8 students normally get into the level of schools that you are targeting?

As for “competitive” I don’t know how to quantify that. But it certainly isn’t well-known to colleges. No students from my school go to Ivy League or HYPSM ever. In the past few years, we’ve had one go to CMU (but I’m pretty sure it was theatre, which isn’t nearly as competitive as SCS, which I’m applying to) one went to Georgetown, and this past year a couple went to Davidson.

Nope. See my above comment.

Homeschooled students get in to good colleges. They are first, last, and in the middle of their ‘class rank.’

The colleges look at the whole record.

Your issue is more likely to come from your LOR’s. When schools that don’t normally send students to highly competitive ones, the LOR’s are the “best in my career” type. If you are not one of the best students this year, it is nearly impossible to be in the best ever group.