Oswego emerges as unique in new classification system

The new standard classification system for colleges and universities describes SUNY Oswego as “more selective” and “highly residential” with a “very high undergraduate” enrollment among master’s colleges and universities with larger graduate programs.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recently completed the most comprehensive overhaul ever of its widely used classification system for American higher education.

The multiple categories and subcategories are so refined that no other college in the country duplicates Oswego’s description across all the categories.

“I’m very pleased with their assessment of our selectivity, our residential nature and the breadth of our academic programs,” said Joe Grant, vice president for student affairs and enrollment at Oswego.

“In the (undergraduate instructional program) category that includes more than 300 colleges across the country with almost 20 percent of all the baccalaureate students, they’ve evaluated us very positively—at the very top of their selectivity assessment,” he said. “We ended up in very good shape.”

The new Carnegie system classifies 4,321 colleges and universities, the most ever. (For the complete list, see http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/classifications.)

In addition to the newly revised basic classifications, the Carnegie Foundation now uses five further classifications that categorize institutions according to undergraduate instructional program, graduate instructional program, overall enrollment profile, undergraduate profile, and size and setting.

Using the Carnegie Foundation Web site’s Custom Listings feature, anyone can compare institutions across any number of categories. For instance, schools with the same undergraduate program and profile as Oswego total just 17 nationwide, most of them private, including Baylor, Clarkson, Drake and Texas Christian universities.

Within SUNY, only the four university centers (Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook) plus the university colleges at Geneseo and Oneonta have the same undergraduate profile as Oswego.

The Carnegie Foundation is continuing work on yet another set of classifications, such as level of community engagement, in which campus participation will be voluntary.

“From learning communities to honors programs to experience-based education, we have outstanding programs that we hope they’re going to assess in a positive way as we go down the road,” Grant said.

The Carnegie classifications are widely used. U.S. News & World Report has utilized them as a starting point for its annual college rankings, though its next release, scheduled for August, will continue to use the old classifications.

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(Posted: Mar 08, 2006)