Top 10%

How do high schools typically determine who is in the top 10%? There are many students that take easy classes and have a 4.0 GPA, while students with a rigorous course load may have a lower GPA. It wouldn’t be fair to just go by UW GPA, right?

Does anyone know how this actually works?

Depends on the school, maybe. Some schools don’t even rank but it is still communicated if a student is in the top. I think rank and gpa are looked at in context of the school report and guidance counselor’s recommendation where they indicate the rigor of coursework taken. Our school does not weight GPA but does rank and the list of top students is always a bit bizarre. This year, student #11 is attending HYP and several ahead in rank didn’t take a single AP class and are going to a schools that didn’t even crack the T100. D20 took “the most demanding” courseload, is ranked #20 and is attending a T20 LAC that rejected those without APs. Things do have a way of working out.

You need to talk to your guidance counselor to understand how ranking is calculated in your HS. Some HS use weighted GPA, some use unweighted GPA, and many high schools don’t rank at all.

In any event the HS will send a school profile along with each HS transcript sent to colleges so the admission officer will understand the level/rigor of coursework a student has taken.

High schools have been struggling with this for decades. There is no simple answer. Some try weighting classes but that has its own issues. No matter what system you develop, someone will have cases that don’t have the results expected.

Yes, it depends on the school. When I was in school, back in the Paleolithic days, those of us who took honors/AP courses were disadvantaged as it was based on straight GPA. There was a cohort of 30-40 of us who were in all of these classes and our valedictorian was not in that group.

My best friend had one B in AP English senior year which caused him to miss out. He ended up at Harvard. Others in our group went to Berkeley, Duke, Dartmouth and CMU. The class Val went to Rutgers.

These days, my kids’ school, and I think most schools these days, use a weighted GPA.

You need to ask YOUR GC how YOUR HS handles class rank. Some schools don’t even rank. It doesn’t matter what other schools do, just what yours does.

Depends on the school. At my daughter’s high school graduation, they recognized all of the students with 4.0s (UW) regardless of the courses they took. They were also recognized by a local news station that does “Best of the Best”.

And her transcript had a ranking based on Weighted GPA… she was valedictorian!