Trucking to Number One: The Toxicity of Class Rank


One of Many: Junior Grace Nyberg anxiously awaits her fate while her class ranking loads on her laptop.

Pitting students against each other academically today is a form of poison that is like no other. It cannot be consumed, yet it swallows us whole. Class ranking is a race that can seldom be won, whereas only one person truly departs a victorious dub, and everyone else walks away with disappointment and despair. High school should be about establishing human connection in a safe and supportive environment, not wasting days away trying to beat the rank. 

In the ancient days of North Atlanta, before everything went south, students could access their class rank at the click of a button on the “Infinite Campus” app. This amicable action only went sour when students began to use the number as a weapon, competing with their classmates and friends, and forming such a hostile environment that the administrators decided to withdraw this right until the beginning of senior year. The issue became of a physical fight as students, and parents, involved themselves in the race. Now, these stressed students anxiously await their fate for three years before being defined by a number on a computer program. This form of competition is one that is laced through our society and haunts us to the core, a world where collaboration falls short as people take advantage of sole propriety. We follow a pre-constructed path that we trust to lead us to artificial success, like robots of a capitalist society, but when will we ever be enough?

Life grows into somewhat of a standardized test as we skip through schooling with one common goal, a yellow brick road to college. With acceptance rates and essays and never being good enough following us to one fateful moment: when we see our rank on the big screen. The grades that we are given lack grace as we brace to pass a test that we studied all night for, only to fail and be given a faux pat on the back and told to “do better” next time. To be best for a hidden number that can only be revealed when there is nothing you can do to fix it. When we stand on the mountain that is our high school years and only have eye bags and living for weekends to show for it. Class ranking may give students something to fight for, but what happens when these same students run out of energy to fight.