How Can I Improve My Class Rank?

How do you increase your class rank?

Flickr user Dave Shea

Class rank is one of the many elements of a college application. Along with GPA, ACT / SAT test scores, extracurricular activities, achievements, and others, class rank helps paint a picture of you as a student. Admissions officers want as much information as they can about a student so they can make the most informed decisions about who to admit into their colleges.

Though class rank is, as we said, one of many elements—thus not the singular determining factor in acceptance or rejection—the higher your rank, the better your odds of acceptance.

So how can you raise your class rank? Let’s explore.

First thing’s first: know how your school calculates rank

It may come as a surprise that not all schools rank the same way. In general, factors include: GPA, credit hours, AP classes, grades, but different schools can also include other things as well. Figure out what your school puts into the formula and write them down so you can focus on them.

Improving Your Grades and GPA

Obviously the better your grades the better your rank. Strive to improve your grades on every scoring opportunity. Put additional effort into homework, papers, projects, and studying for tests. You might need to switch up your study habits, too. Ask your teacher for help and about any extra credit opportunities available. Effort will not betray you, and you’ll thank yourself in the long run.

Academic Rigor

A high GPA and grades aren’t enough. After all, there might be several students in your class that all haves 4.0s—how can you rank that? By academic rigor. Not all classes are taught at the same level—by adding advanced placement courses into your schedule you up the challenge. Since the material is more difficult and the expectations are higher, students must rise to the occasion and work harder. AP classes are not on the same 4.0 scale as standard ones, so doing well in AP classes can boost one student ahead of another in rank, even if they both have a 4.0. Just be sure to pace yourself—you should take 2-3 AP classes per YEAR not per semester. If you overload yourself, grades can suffer.

Extra Courses

One way to get ahead? Take more classes! Whether through summertime courses, getting exceptions from classes like gym, or taking post-secondary dual-credit courses, students can go above and beyond in the classroom in order to improve their ranking stance.

What If My High School Doesn’t Have Rank?

We discussed it further in our article about that very question, but in essence: More and more high schools are adopting to exclude class rank. There are a variety of arguments for and against class rank, but if your school doesn’t have the system, don’t worry too much. Admissions officers are used to seeing that, and it won’t count against you.

Is Rank the Most Important Thing?

It’s difficult to say that anything one thing on an application is “more important” than any other. Think of it like a puzzle—they all come together to portray just one picture. In this case, the picture is of you, the student interested in attending a college. All of the pieces are important, so it’s key to focus on each one. It’s great to strive to improve your class rank—and be proud of your achievements—but there are other things to consider as well. Don’t put rank on too tall a pedestal. It isn’t the be-all, end-all.

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