High schools are finally starting to get it. Slowly but surely, high schools across America have been moving away from ranking their students. And even more recently, again slowly but surely, high schools have been moving away from having valedictorians and salutatorians. And why? It’s not because high school administrators are sick and tired of hearing the mostly boring and cliche graduation speeches of these valedictorians and salutatorians (just because you get great grades doesn’t mean that what you have to say at graduation is interesting!). It’s because these colleges are finally starting to get the fact that there is no advantage to naming valedictorians and salutatorians. In fact, there are major disadvantages in doing so. To these high schools as well as their students.
The Ivy League has what’s called the Academic Index. Ultimately, the Academic Index is a number assigned to each student based on the student’s GPA, testing, and where they stand in their high school class. And when a high school assigns valedictorians and salutatorians, they are in many ways giving Ivy League colleges what they need to calculate the Academic Index. It is indeed to the benefit of these Ivy League colleges. But it is only to the benefit of these colleges. It is not to the benefit of the applicants. It is not to the benefit of the high schools. Unless a student is ranked number 1 or 2, the number of points assigned to a student for class rank can detrimentally impact this component of his or her Academic Index. When there’s no class rank available, these colleges use a number that corresponds to the student’s GPA instead.
High schools don’t have to give colleges exactly what they want. These high schools have the power and, slowly but surely, they’re indeed starting to realize this. We encourage more and more high schools across America to move away from class rank. High schools that rank their students, while often unknowingly, hurt the chances for admission of so many of their students. And it also fosters a competitive, unhealthy atmosphere. Who wants that? Who needs that?