How Classifications Can Help Colleges

Driven by the American enthusiasm for identifying the mythical Number One, college rankings and classifications are a growth industry. The National Research Council, consumer guidebooks like Barron's Profiles of American Colleges and the Princeton Review's Best 331 Colleges, and magazines such as U.S. News & World Report, Maclean's, and even Men's Health, among others, try to organize institutions and their programs into groups or hierarchies.

A more serious need for categorizing,