Opposing Viewpoints: Class rank amps up excellence

opposingopinion by anyalindholm

Some say life is a game. Games are about healthy competition. Competition challenges us to work harder and smarter.  It provides benchmarks for personal goal-setting and inspires us to push ourselves to accomplish what we may not have the drive to do otherwise.

The same concept can be applied to a class rank system that is based on GPA. I see it as a barometer providing me with feedback as to how well I am “playing the game” and overcoming academic challenges compared to my classmates.

The “class rank game” is really a personal competition. At Marian, the class rank list is not published for anyone to see.  Students can only know their individual place in the ranking, so it cannot be used divisively against our fellow classmates. Because of this, it’s a gauge for tracking our progress and accomplishments compared to the class as a whole. If you are not the type of person who is motivated by competition, you never have to look at your class rank.

Personally, I’m goal-driven, and the knowledge I gain from learning my place in the class rank amps up my adrenaline and keeps me from getting lazy.

Some students “play the game” to win by choosing to take certain classes and not others because of how their GPA will be affected. They may opt out of taking a class that’s very interesting to them because it’s considered by many to be too challenging with the risk of not getting an “A”. Or, they choose a class solely because it’s an honors level course with higher GPA potential over one they would really prefer, but is college prep level.

Both options are definitely within the rules of fair game-playing, but not the way I choose to play. I want my personal journey to be fun as well as challenging. I would never encourage someone to enroll in a class solely for the credit if it held little appeal to them or offered them no personal enrichment.

Class rank does serve another purpose: colleges use it as a determinant of our success among our peers. In doing some research, I have found that top-tier colleges are the only colleges that actually utilize class rank. For these colleges, class rank is important because it helps them measure the caliber of classes taken by the student and compare the achievements of each student to their whole grade. Curriculum difficulty levels vary greatly from one high school to the next, so class rank is useful because it enables admissions officers to understand a student within the context of her school.

If life is a game, for me it’s about the joy of playing. The finish line is individual, not common to us all. Healthy competition propels us to be the best we can be as we strive to learn and grow in our personal game of life, but “competition” is a loaded word. For some people, it immediately calls to mind images of athletes, medals, and struggle.

However, we do not actively fear the struggle itself; rather, we fear the concept of “winners” and “losers.” There is no need for trepidation in this case because there is no winner or loser in the class rank system used at Marian. Class rank is not made public. So, if you enjoy a little, healthy competition you may exercise your right to learn your class rank.

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