The Party Schools: The Definitive List


It’s the list no school wants to be on.

But every year, for better or for worse, The Princeton Review publishes its provocative ranking of the Top 20 “party schools.” And college officials whose schools land on the list wince and often vehemently argue how unfair and undeserving they are of the dubious honor.

It’s based on a combination of survey questions completed by students on the use of alcohol and drugs, the average number of hours of study each day, and the popularity of the Greek system.

Predictably, schools that make the party ranking attack the credibility of the list along with The Princeton Review. “Among all the rankings published by various media outlets, the Princeton Review’s stand out for their complete lack of objective, scientific methodology,” UI spokesman Tom Moore told the Iowa City Press-Citizen. “Their rankings are based almost exclusively on anecdotes and random, subjective feedback.”

Well, yes and no. The ranking is based on extensive online surveying of current students on college campuses.  Each year, tens of thousands of students on hundreds of campuses are asked to answer more than 80 questions. As far as the University of Iowa goes, it has the dubious distinction of making the Top 20 party school list for at least five consecutive years. In fact, 13 schools have made the list in each and every one of the past five years.

Of course, it’s easy for one-year anomalies to crop up that could unfairly get schools on a list like this. So we’ve taken a longer, five-year perspective to examine how the list has changed from 2014 to 2010.

Here’s the “party schools” that tend to show up again and again.

Ranking The ‘Party Schools’ From 2014 to 2010


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2014 Rank & School2014 Rank2013 Rank2012 Rank2011 Rank2010 Rank
University of Iowa124912
UC-Santa Barbara275810
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign341118NR
West Virginia University41646
Syracuse University51012NRNR
University of Florida66972
Ohio University-Athens73125
University of Wisconsin-Madison81314128
Penn State University911731
Lehigh University10NRNRNRNR
University of Georgia115214
Florida State University1288119
DePauw University1312151015
University of Mississippi1414353
University of Texas-Austin15151067
Miami University-Ohio169NRNRNR
University of Maryland-College Park17161819NR
Tulane University18NRNRNR19
University of Vermont19NR19NRNR
University of Oregon20NRNRNRNR
University of South CarolinaNR1720NRNR
James Madison UniversityNR18NRNRNR
University of MaineNR19NRNRNR
University of TennesseeNR20NRNR16
University of Alabama-TuscaloosaNRNRNR13NR
Sewanee-The University of the SouthNRNRNR1417
Indiana University-BloomingtonNRNR161514
Louisiana State UniversityNRNR13NRNR
University of Colorado-BoulderNRNRNR1611
University of MissouriNRNRNR17NR
Michigan State UniversityNRNRNR20NR
Union College (NY)NRNRNRNR13
University of North DakotaNRNRNRNR18
Arizona State UniversityNRNR17NR20

Source: The Princeton Review