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Top 10 Party Schools in the US

Many red party cups with blurred celebrating people in the background. College alcohol containers in mixed positions.Every year, the Princeton Review releases several lists ranking hundreds of colleges across the United States, comparing them on various areas of student life, from academics and college newspaper to extracurriculars and “party” life. Available social life at and around a college is one area that many students search for, either looking for more rigorous environments to prepare them for a competitive workplace, or seeking fun times with likeminded individuals with fewer academic or career demands on their time.

The term party school refers to a college or university that has the reputation for fewer demands on student time, including academic work, career opportunities, and even most extracurriculars. These schools typically have active fraternities and sororities, which gives them the reputation for heavy abuse of drugs or alcohol among students, licentious activities, and less academic pressure. While students may receive a quality education while also socializing or abusing intoxicating substances, students who are subject to peer pressure to socialize, drink, take drugs, or focus on fun rather than their studies may not do as well academically, which can be a detriment to their future careers. Additionally, exposure to drugs or alcohol can lead to substance abuse struggles throughout life.

Students, parents, academics, and administrators take the Princeton Review’s rankings very seriously when considering future schools to attend. While the rankings adjust a little every year, many schools consistently make the top 20, if not the top 10. Below are the top 10 party schools for 2017/2018, according to the Princeton Review:

  1. Tulane University – New Orleans, LA
    6,377 students
  2. West Virginia University – Morgantown, WV
    22,350 students
  3. Bucknell University – Lewisburg, PA
    3,571 students
  4. Syracuse University – Syracuse, NY
    15,218 students
  5. University of Wisconsin-Madison – Madison, WI
    31,710 students
  6. University of Delaware – Newark, DE
    17,669 students
  7. University of Colorado, Boulder – Boulder, CO
    27,846 students
  8. Colgate University – Hamilton, NY
    2,882 students
  9. Lehigh University – Bethlehem, PA
    5,080 students
  10. University of Maine – Orono, ME
    9,323 students

A different metric comes from Niche.com, a site using reviews from students and sometimes faculty to list their top 10 rankings. While this website has not been creating their top 10 lists as long as the Princeton Review, it does provide insight based on personal opinions rather than surveyors’ investigations. Niche.com, based on thriving nightlife and diverse party scenes on campus, lists the following top 10 party schools for 2018:

  1. Tulane University – New Orleans, LA
  2. University of Georgia – Athens, GA
  3. Miami University – Oxford, OH
  4. University of Iowa – Iowa City, IA
  5. Florida State University – Tallahassee, FL
  6. West Virginia University – Morgantown, WV
  7. University of Texas, Austin – Austin, TX
  8. Penn State – University Park, PA
  9. Indiana University, Bloomington – Bloomington, IN
  10. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Champaign, IL

Although the party school rankings do not necessarily correlate to poor academics at the university or college, students who seek out party schools may already be at risk for substance abuse or addictive behaviors. A 2015 study correlated alcohol abuse at party schools compared to colleges and universities with fewer active Greek chapters, the presence of a keg at a party, and whether or not servers cut off those who appeared intoxicated. Results showed that, as suspected, drinking to intoxication or beyond, including among those under the age of 21, occurred more at party schools compared to schools with less active on-campus or off-campus socializing or parties. While social life for students is important, implementing prevention strategies to keep students away from dangerous drugs or addictive behaviors appeared to work.