Many find friendly competition to be beneficial to fostering an engaging learning environment. But it really begs the question, should students be ranked in comparison to their peers?
Class rank is a system that compares each student in a grade level that deduces their placement based on their weighted grade point average (GPA) placing more pressure on students to rank first in their class.
The students that rank first and second achieve the titles of Valedictorian and Salutatorian and give a speech at their graduation, get their names on a plaque in the office, a speech at graduation, a special pen and ultimate bragging rights.
But with hundreds of students striving for a single title, is it ultimately worth it? Hundreds of hours of studying for their tens of AP, AICE and Dual Enrollment combined tons of stress for an esteemed title.
“Being Salutatorian comes with a lot of stress work, but for top colleges, putting in the extra work might be worth it,” junior Dawn Kim said. “I’ve been under a lot of pressure from my peers to maintain my rank, but I’ve been advised to stick with what I know. For instance, when choosing my courses for next year I could choose to take another 6.0 class, or I could remain with Robotics Honors. Though boosting GPA is important, being consistent with my passions is as well.”
“I think it’s important to maintain class rank to get into good colleges, and it’s nice to set a personal goal,” top 5% sophomore Ellen Huang said. “But it doesn’t really matter too much in the long run because a number doesn’t determine your success in life.”
Being Valedictorian does grant ultimate bragging rights as many find it to be conducive to having the highest level intelligence in their entire grade. But many can attest that grades are not a proportional indicator for academic acumen.
Seeing a number define students based on their “intelligence” leaves them to be constantly comparing themselves to their other students.
“Being Valedictorian has been a big source of academic validation for me and an important part of representing all the work that I’ve put into my education, but I don’t think it’s necessarily an accurate depiction of intelligence,” senior Ana Rodriguez-Valdes said. “Rankings depends on a very specific and limited part of your entire school career and shouldn’t be used in any way to measure how smart you are or how good of a student you are, so it’s not worth giving yourself an unmanageable schedule for an assigned number that becomes irrelevant once you to college.”
With an immense course load needed on one’s plate, it is not a title that can be easily attained by anyone, regardless of natural intellect. Being Valedictorian or Salutatorian takes dedication, it is not an easy feat to take more 6.0 GPA boosting classes than over 500 of your peers.
But many can agree that it is not worth the unneeded stress unless one is willing and ready to put that onto themselves. Sure, the accolades and recognition are very validating but is that glorious four-minute speech at graduation worth years of having to choose between your mental health and your academics?