Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

Test scores, extracurricular activities, volunteer hours, grades, GPA, and…what is it, again? I can’t seem to think of it…Oh, of course, class rank! Yes, that wonderful number that people pay so much unnecessary attention to. How could I forget such an important thing? It causes people to ask superfluous comments such as “How many AP classes are you taking?” “OMG, so, like, what’s your class rank?” “I heard that [insert person’s name here] got an A minus this marking period.” “I’m totally going to beat him for valedictorian!”

Let me make one thing clear: it does not matter. Stop with your obsessing over this insignificant number. It does not matter. Say you are ranked 65/500. I think that’s great. It doesn’t seem very low to me. It is very likely that there are many other people in your grade who have the exact same GPA as you, but may be ranked higher because of alphabetization. Besides, it is in no way a definitive representation of a person’s intelligence or achievement.

At my school, I know for a fact that there are people who are far more intelligent ranked “lower” because they chose to pursue their passions, such as music, media production, art, etc. (classes that are not weighted), rather than cramming their schedules full with AP and honors courses. Moreover, the top student could have easily shoved a bunch of easier AP or honors courses into his/her schedule just to be seen as the “top” student. Does this make the person any smarter than you? Nope (Maybe he/she is better at packing his/her schedule with excessive courses, but it does not necessarily make the person smarter than you.). Just to clarify, I have nothing against AP and honors classes. I’m all about challenging oneself. However, when it gets to the point that the person is merely taking the courses to inflate GPA and increase class rank, that’s when I have a problem.

“But Jenny,” you say. “What about colleges? They’re never going to accept me if I’m not even in the top 10 percent!” Well, let me tell you something that every college admissions officer I have heard in my life tell me: they take a holistic approach to your application. Holistic meaning they look at everything. Yes, they look at your class rank, but they also look at your extracurricular activities, volunteer service, essays, etc.

Colleges want a person at their school, a unique individual who will contribute to society, not a robot who only cares about him/herself and his/her grades (don’t mind my awkward attempts at subject/verb agreement here). Want some even better news? According to a National Association for College Admission Counseling survey of admissions offices, the importance of class rank has decreased from 42% of colleges rating it “considerably important” in 1993 to 19% colleges with this rating in 2011.

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Wow this girl is really hating on class rank. She must hold a grudge against the system because she’s probably ranked really low.” Funny story, I’m not ranked low (I’m not going to specify, sorry). We’ll just leave it at that. So, what if you are ranked high? Does that mean that all your hard work meant nothing? Were all your missed hang-outs with your friends a waste? Did you pull that all-nighter for your English essay for nothing? No. You did not. In fact, good for you for putting so much effort into your studies! As long as you try your best, there really is nothing to worry about (boy, do I sound cheesy). Don’t worry about other people’s scores, you can’t do anything about them (well, maybe sabotage… just kidding don’t), do what you do best and focus on your own studies. You’ll see that it’s a better use of your time.



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the author

Jenny Zhang is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, who is thinking about majoring in economics (but that is definitely not set in stone). She has many talents such as falling asleep anywhere at any time (this can be verified by her roommate) and procrastinating. Jenny likes to spend a lot of her time on YouTube watching baby videos and obsessing over anything Jeremy Lin-related while eating various forms of food that are high in sugar and/or fat. She is currently trying to learn how to play Ultimate Frisbee to avoid the Freshman 15 and attempting to perfect her street-crossing techniques. Her spirit animal is a panda. You can follow her on Twitter @JenKnee_Z

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