Finishing first can pay off for valedictorians

Valedictorians get the added benefit of one year of free tuition at any Texas college or university.

Eilidh McGarva

Valedictorians get the added benefit of one year of free tuition at any Texas college or university.

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In the state of Texas, being a high school valedictorian is about more than bragging rights, it can be worth a free year of college courtesy at any public Texas university courtesy of a special program.

I think it’s a good way to reward a student for, trying really hard, persevering, and making the best of all the opportunities that they’re given, because part of having a good rank is playing the GPA game but, there’s always, obviously, a lot of hard work that goes into it,”

— junior Lisa Punnen

Called the Highest Ranking Graduate program, it rewards the highest ranking student in a graduating class for their hard work and dedication throughout high school.

“I think it’s just to reward academic performance,” junior Lisa Punnen said. “I think it’s a good way to reward a student for, trying really hard, persevering, and making the best of all the opportunities that they’re given, because part of having a good rank is playing the GPA game but, there’s always, obviously, a lot of hard work that goes into it.”

Along with helping students with undergraduate studies, a year of covered tuition also has many benefits in their further educational careers.

“I think it helps a lot, especially if you’re gonna go to college and if you have plans afterwards like grad school or med school,” valedictorian Ally Wong said. “In college the cost can add up, but I think most people will also can get some other scholarships to help with that.”

Well, it allowed my family to be able to help afford supplementing the financial aspects of his first year in college because his tuition, room and board, and books were free he was able to afford joining a fraternity, which has dues,”

— AP World History teacher Jeff Crowe

Punnen believes this program opens up new possibilities and offers motivation for her to maintain her academic position at the top of the junior class.

“I’ve always thought I wanted to go to a big private school, but public schools are starting to look like a good option now,” Punnen said. “I think it can, motivate students and just kind of provide a safety net for a valedictorian who might be looking to go to, a private college but, if they don’t get in, they have something that could be just as well for them.”

AP world history teacher Jeff Crowe has witnessed the benefits of this policy as his brother was rewarded with it.

“Well, it allowed my family to be able to help afford supplementing the financial aspects of his first year in college because his tuition, room and board, and books were free he was able to afford joining a fraternity, which has dues,” Crowe said. “Other than it was a nice recognition of the hard work that he had done by the state and the University of Texas.