Will being rank #13 at a mediocre public school hurt my chances at getting into top colleges?

I go to a fairly large public high school with about 600 students in my class and I’m rank #13. My school is not by any means known for being academically rigorous. I have a 4.0 UW GPA and am in all AP and IB classes, but being in band and jazz band has dragged down my weighted GPA. I know this alone will not make a difference in my acceptance, but will highly selective universities see this as a negative point in my application, and will they be able to connect the dots between my involvement in band and my relatively low class rank?

You’re fine. 13 out of 600 is hardly a low ranking and you have a 4.0. Are you concerned there is grade inflation at your HS? Is that the lack of rigor you’re referring to because a HS that offers AP and IB doesn’t seem to lack a rigorous curriculum.

Colleges calculate your GPA and unweighted is more meaningful since high schools have their formulas for weighting grades.

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Like anyone you need a list of reaches, targets, and safeties. We don’t know the rest…major, test scores, ECs, etc but the odds of getting into what most deem top…Ivy, etc. is difficult even if you are #1.

Put your best foot forward and you’ll end up at a wonderful school whether it’s a reach or not.

Colleges understand that band takes up 1 (or even 2) periods that could otherwise be taken as an AP class. Don’t worry; they’d much prefer a straight A band student who has made a commitment to their instrument/program than a kid who has more APs. That’s what I’ve seen at our HS anyway.


I read too fast. Focused on rank. KBTDBT is right. Colleges want to see an EC where someone is committed and gone deep. Are you first chair ? Things like that. If you are taking a rigorous schedule outside of band you will be fine. Again, top schools are that so you need to cast a wide net.

My daughters school (450 senior class) saw its valedictorian with a 36 ACT apply to 16 of the top 20 on US News. 0/16. She got into NYU with no aid and will now be at U of Tennessee.

She had no ECs except Honor Societies which most college simply see as fluff. Band is legit and a many hours commitment. If you express interest in continuing when you get on email info lists and on your applications that can help.

Also this year they sent someone to Chicago who was neither a valedictorian nor salutatorian. Two years ago my son’s classmate went to Princeton. They no longer rank but did then. She was not top 25…,which they formally recognize.

So you cannot control admissions. You can only control yourself and it seems you are doing a fine job.

Don’t fear - you’re leading the best life you can. If it’s good enough to get into a top school then great. If not that’s ok too. You’ll definitely Italy have outstanding and if you want inexpensive options.

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Rigor, depth of interests, ECs, demographics, geography, and the actual application presentation (essays, cohesive themes, “flair”) will determine how you are viewed by any particular college, which will judge you based on its own institutional criteria and needs.

With a 4.0UW GPA, whether you are number 13 or number 1 will be immaterial in my opinion.

Nothing to worry about at all. The colleges will see your straight A’s and your guidance counselor will note on her letter that you took the highest rigor classwork. You could have a discussion with your guidance counselor, and point out that your having taken additional electives has brought down your class rank. She might add to your letter that your academic record is unsurpassed in your class, and that you chose to do additional music electives that affected your weighted GPA. That will help every college to see that your academic record is as good as it possibly can be.

This is an issue at my kids’ high school. The kids who want to get the most out of the many electives offered often take 8 classes a semester (no lunch, no study hall). Many of the electives don’t offer an honors option, and for these kids who take all honors/AP, the electives wind up bringing down their GPA. But they do far more than the kids who take only 6 classes, and never take an elective that they don’t have to. The fact is, the school should simply not factor the extra 4.0 electives into their >4.0 GPA.

We had a similar issue at my daughter’s high school with how they weighted grades. At our school dual enrollment classes weren’t weighted so my daughter’s class rank dropped senior year because she chose to take Multivariable Calculus at a local University rather than a fluff AP class. Her counselor explained the situation in her rec or when she sent grades or something. Didn’t seem to hurt her admissions.

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Top 10% with rigor matters. Dedication to band matters too. You’re fine. :+1:

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