SOME SEE THE ANNUAL U.S. NEWS & World Report rankings as a necessary evil. Students and parents are naturally attracted to those schools that make the top of the list, so schools do what they can to boost their rank. But as educators have argued for years, the rankings have little value in the real world. A few have already stopped participating in the annual survey. Reed College (Ore.) stopped playing the rankings game 12 years ago, and continues to receive top quality applicants.