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The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

Is it time to eliminate class rankings?

Jack Breakey ’24
MC has a dedicated area for students at the top of their classes on the first floor of the main building.

For years, schools across the nation have used a class ranking system, but recently some have been getting rid of them. 

The most common reasons for getting rid of class rankings are that they are a disadvantage to some students, they harm students’ mental health, and they can affect students applying to college with class rankings.

MC officially does not use class rankings for college admissions and hasn’t since the arrival of the current Dean of Student Services, Mrs. Kristina Luster two years ago. She said it was one of the first things she did when she was brought on. However, MC does recognize top-ranked students in award ceremonies and has a small area decorated for those students on the first floor.

A common point made with getting rid of class rankings is how electives affect them. Some students might opt out of an elective to keep their ranking. According to College Board, electives can also show colleges what interests and passions a student might have. 

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The use of class rankings also affects students because they end up taking classes just to reach a higher rank.

“If you want a higher GPA, you enter harder classes,” said senior Luis Munoz.

AP or honors level classes are much harder than the normal Excel class. Other than being an introduction to college-level classes, honors courses also improve a student’s GPA with the majority of top-ranked students being in all AP and honors classes. These classes use a  5.0 GPA scale instead of the 4.0 for non-honors courses.

“Mount Carmel guys are competitive,” said Mr. Bill Nolan, Assistant Principal. “The class rank is another way for our students to stay on the mark.”

AP and honors level classes have a higher sense of competition like a sport. Some teachers might announce the top individuals on a test or the top students in the class which can affect the mental health of students.

Mental health is a factor that has been mentioned in the argument for getting rid of class rankings. With mental health now being an important subject in school, students might focus more on their GPA or class rank than their mental health.

“I think anything like that when it’s a competitive nature can have an impact on mental health,” said Mrs. Luster. “But I do think it’s more how you frame it.”

Motivation or lack of recognition can be two factors for declining mental health. Students who might have that motivation to do their school work could sometimes be overlooked by students who just do better on a test. 

“It demoralizes everyone else,” said senior Brady McQuillan. “For example, if someone works really hard in class and just finds out he’s not as good as he thought.”

However, MC does recognize all persons in all fields from academics to athletics. From the honor roll to even in-class awards, students have a lot of ways to be recognized at the end of the day.

“Academics is one pillar of [recognition],” said Mrs. Luster. “It’s not the whole picture.” 

Class rankings can also affect a student’s chances to get into the college of their choice.

According to U.S. News, if a college uses class rank, it’s a low priority for admissions. Most colleges now look at applicants for their extracurriculars and life experiences.

However, most large colleges like the University of Missouri, University of Chicago, University of Texas at Austin, and even Purdue University consider a student’s class rank when available. A handful of scholarship programs also mandate a class ranking from students which can leave some at a disadvantage for financial aid. 

“We don’t use class rankings as a factor that could impact college decisions at MC,” said Mrs. Luster.

Class ranks could show a college how hard a student worked during their time in high school. A top school would rather pick a student who has shown to be a hard worker than a student who might not look the part. 

This argument has been brought up not just across the nation, but also in Chicagoland with multiple school districts getting rid of class rankings. For instance, in 2016, Lincoln-Way High School District 210 eliminated the class ranking system. According to the Chicago Tribune, private schools like Providence Catholic and Marian Catholic have also joined in with this change as they have not reported class rankings in the last several years.

“I don’t like to compare us to other schools,” said Mr. Nolan. “I like to embrace what we have done academically.”

MC doesn’t officially post class rankings, but most students who are in the top ten of their classes know. In fact, during this year’s upperclassmen award ceremonies, the list of the top five students was announced and honored. Plus there’s a luncheon for those seniors who were in the top ten for their class. Recognition only goes so far, and not all students will be recognized for their academic efforts.

With the elimination of class ranking, we can also see the end of granting the honorary titles to the top two students, valedictorian and salutatorian. In the future, schools will need to find a replacement for these positions. This replacement could be putting more focus on an existing award, Senior of the Year, which is given to the senior who best represents the class and is selected by a vote from their fellow seniors. 

The debate about class rankings affects all students. Many still want to keep rankings around for resumes and college admissions. Those who want the elimination see class rankings as a factor in students’ mental health, having students focus on their GPA rather than classes they want to take, and colleges overlooking their academic careers due to their ranking. The decision for schools to eliminate class rankings is still spreading and is expected to increase as the years go by.

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About the Contributor
Jack Breakey ’24
Jack Breakey ’24, Staff Writer
John “Jack” Breakey is a Senior at Mount Carmel High School. Jack resides on the South Side of Chicago in the Morgan Park neighborhood. He also attended grammar school in the neighborhood at St. Cajetan School.  Jack is a member of Caravan Broadcasting Network as their Senior Producer and also a member of the MC Model UN club and a Peer Leader. Outside of school, he’s a member of the Chicago Fire Department Gold Badge Society. For hobbies, Jack enjoys bike riding, watching movies, playing video games, and researching government. One of Jack’s favorite pastimes is listening to music. He is a large fan of rock and roll, especially Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett, and the genre of bluegrass. This influence came from his father, Thomas Breakey, Mount Carmel class of 1982, and an active Chicago firefighter. His father has been a large inspiration for Jack, who has become a better man because of his father. Jack's dream job is working in international relations or national security. He researches current world events and conflicts while also being a student of history. Who knows? Jack might become the real Jack Ryan one day.