Another benefit that functionalists see in education is sorting—separating students on the basis of merit. Society’s needs demand that the most capable people get channeled into the most important occupations. Schools identify the most capable students early. Those who score highest on classroom and standardized tests enter accelerated programs and college?preparation courses. Sociologists Talcott Parsons, Kingsley Davis, and Wilbert Moore referred to this as social placement. They saw this process as a beneficial function in society.
After sorting has taken place, the next function of education, networking (making interpersonal connections), is inevitable. People in high school and college network with those in similar classes and majors. This networking may become professional or remain personal. The most significant role of education in this regard is matchmaking. Sociologists primarily interest themselves in how sorting and networking lead couples together of similar backgrounds, interests, education, and income potential. People place so much importance on this function of education that some parents limit their children’s options for college to insure that they attend schools where they can meet the “right” person to marry.