Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Your Rank in Class

In my post about GPA last week, a great question came up in the comments: What about rank in class? How do we view that?

Rank in class is just about as tricky a number as GPA, because it depends so much on your school. The size of your school, the rigor of your curriculum, the academic achievements of your fellow students—all of these things affect class rank. So, as with GPA, we work very hard to understand your class rank within the context of your specific school. We ask your counselor to report your rank in class, or to estimate it if your school does not rank. We also ask your counselor to tell us about the curriculum in your school, whether they limit how many advanced classes a student can take, if there were any circumstances that limited your curriculum, and what percentage of graduates from your school typically go on to a 4-year college. All of this information taken together helps us understand the context of your school, and how you are achieving in comparison with your nearest peers.

Last year, as reported in our class profile, 80% of our enrolling class was in the top 10% of their high school class, so that gives you a rough idea of where most of our admitted students fall. But please don’t think that there is any type of cutoff. We hear that rumor a lot: “If you’re not in the top 10% of your class then you can’t get in.” NOT TRUE! We would never make an admission decision about a student on the basis of a single number.

At the heart of the matter, we’re looking to see that you’ve taken advantage of the opportunities available in your school and community by continually challenging yourself. We want students here at Carolina who are going to continue pushing themselves and their fellow students to grow intellectually and explore new ideas—both inside and outside of the classroom. So help us understand how you’ll do that. How are you hoping to stretch your mind once you get here? That’s a great thing to think about as you write your essays.

Please just let me know what other questions you have. And don’t forget that our Early Action deadline is only 10 days away. October 15 will be here before we know it!