The College Search

When Schools Do Not Rank

Question: My son is a junior. His high school does not rank students, but they supply a "School Profile" to colleges. Since most colleges say that class rank plays a big part in admission decisions, how does this affect the process?

The fact that your son's school doesn't rank is unimportant. Many of the top high schools and prep schools don't--and with good reason. (One guidance counselor told us just the other day that 1/100 of a point separates the #1 student from the #2 student at her school. That sort of hairsplitting is a bit nuts, eh?) Admission officials are used to evaluating transcripts and grades without the benefit of a rank to put them in perspective. Often an admission office has appointed a staff member to oversee applicants from each part of the country, and those officials travel extensively and make an effort to know the schools in their turf. Thus, depending on where your son goes to high school and the target colleges on his list, admission folks may be very familiar with his curriculum and grading system. They'll be able to identify the best students from his high school, even without the advantage of rank. In addition, here are some other related things to think about as you enter the college-admissions fray:

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