Intelligence is Deeper Than Rank

The differing types of intelligence aren’t confined to mere class rankings but are more enriching with a diversity of interests and strengths that make an individual uniquely smart (Courtesy of Pixabay).

The differing types of intelligence aren’t confined to mere class rankings but are more enriching with a diversity of interests and strengths that make an individual uniquely smart (Courtesy of Pixabay).


Many U.S. high school students aspire to be at the top of their class. This is because of the understanding that being at the top allegedly means these students are “smart.” To be able to advance to a better ranking, a student has to surpass the grade point average of the student ahead of them. This system creates a highly competitive environment between students – especially those who actually care to be at the top. Colleges are pleased to find individuals with high rankings in these competitive environments, which heightens their chances of being accepted and receiving scholarships. Such decisions are valid, for these students have obviously put effort into reaching those places; however, some people tend to believe that these students are “more intelligent” than those who rank below them.

It would be inconceivable to think that students in the top ten or twenty of the class do not have any intelligence that has helped them secure their spot. This intelligence could come from a tremendous ability to learn through a variety of methods, ranging from hands-on to visual. There is also the skill for having the ability to know exactly what an instructor is looking for in an assignment while others are perplexed with the assignment itself. These skills can benefit a student in a class they take and in real-world situations. However, the ability to comprehend problems in all subjects does not cleanly cut the denotation of the word intelligence.

These can just be factors in a more complex and subjective intellect of a student. For example, if one student is obtaining excellent grades in math with little effort compared to another student who is struggling to do so, the lower grade does not make the student “dumber.” Rather, the student that is successful at achieving high grades with significantly lower effort is not being challenged by the class. In order to create a more difficult system for students with these abilities, levels of complex classes that require more thought and work to comprehend subjects were introduced to the educational system. These programs include honors, AP, IB, and dual-enrollment classes, all of which require more. These advanced classes have grades that are weighted more heavily, which is fair because of their level of difficulty. Weighted GPAs that take these challenges into account are probably the best indicator for dedication and drive as well as management and learning of new material, which helps high schools distinguish between students who care and try and those who do not. The type of students that care and try can show their success through these classes as well.

At Brashier, students have the option to take honors classes or dual-enrollment courses at the college, which are weighted significantly more than CP. To demonstrate, a 95 in an honors class weighs the same as a 100 in a CP class, yet there is no distinction at the college in terms of which classes are more demanding. It is noticeable at the high school that there are harder courses, so the grade counts more when calculated into the weighted GPA that Brashier uses for their ranking system. The issue at the college occurs when student A is taking a demanding class like Calculus I, whilst student B is trying to boost their GPA by taking an easier class like Theater 101. Both of the classes will have the same weight when reported to Brashier. Maybe student A gets an 85, which is impressive considering it is college level calculus. It should be noted in some way that the calculus grade is much better because of how tough it is to pass such a class, but that is not noted. This dramatically affects how some students at the top, who may be there because of relatively easy college classes, can appear to be intelligent compared to outstanding students that accept challenges at the colleges with harder classes.

There are many factors that also affect the performance of a student at school. Some challenges hinder students’ GPAs and ultimately affect their ranking. These could include difficult situations like death or illness in the family, depression, an overload of extracurricular activities, or overall carelessness in academia. These situations cannot be inferred from a transcript, unfortunately. Colleges that do not perform a holistic review of the application of a student might miss the qualities he or she has.

Some students’ strengths can include the arts; these students are at a disadvantage because there are only a few classes offered that actually delve deep into music, art, and theater. Classes that are typically considered more important are in fields like science, math, technology. Talented students who have not shown aptitude in these “important” classes may be disappointed and decide not to focus on normal core classes that are forced on them. They could even decide to leave education behind because of a lack of opportunities to study something they are passionate about.

Intelligence can be defined in many ways, and the people at the top of their class may have exceptional grades, but that does not necessarily mean they are more intelligent than those below them. It only proves that hard work does pay off in relation to class rank. Rankings and GPA are better correlated to a willingness to learn – even if some in the top ten perform better because they are academically gifted. Class ranks fail to depict the other strengths that students have like loyalty, perseverance, honesty, organization, and other attributes that will make the difference in college. Students should not be discouraged when their class rank is too “low” because that does not define how smart they actually are. Situations vary, especially at Brashier, but usually, the ranking system is just another way to have colleges be even more interested in you for having better grades than your classmates. In the end, rankings cannot be used as a measurement of intelligence.

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