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Articles / Applying to College / Will Lack of Class Rank Hurt 12th-Grade Transfer?

Will Lack of Class Rank Hurt 12th-Grade Transfer?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Dec. 1, 2015

Question: I’m currently a junior at a Catholic high school that doesn’t rank. However next year I will most likely be studying abroad. I would like to come back and graduate from public school so I can get in a lot of AP’s. But since I would only be there for a year, I wouldn’t be ranked. My parents are worried that since I won’t be ranked and everyone else will, admissions officers will think that’s strange. Is it a disadvantage to switch to public school for senior year since I won’t be ranked?

Tell your parents that they should relax (or at least they can bug you about OTHER things!). The lack of a rank will not disadvantage you at all. However, when the time comes, you should make sure that your guidance counselor explains (in your recommendation) why classmates applying to the same colleges that you are will have a rank on their transcripts and you will not.

The biggest disadvantage of switching to a new school in 12th grade is that your “competitor” applicants will probably be boasting of leadership roles in school activities while you will be the newcomer who may not have an opportunity to take on key jobs in clubs and organizations. However, admission officials often tire of seeing the same school activities (and leadership positions) listed on application after application, so perhaps you will be able to highlight interests and accomplishments that didn’t take place in school and will help you stand out in a crowd. In fact, your year abroad might introduce you to atypical endeavors that don’t turn up in most U.S. high schools … or on most applications.

But, meanwhile, don’t worry about the lack of a class rank, and safe travels to you.


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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