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 & School 2014 Rank 2013 Rank 2012 Rank 2011 Rank 2010 Rank
University of Iowa 1 2 4 9 12
UC-Santa Barbara 2 7 5 8 10
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign 3 4 11 18 NR
West Virginia University 4 1 6 4 6
Syracuse University 5 10 12 NR NR
University of Florida 6 6 9 7 2
Ohio University-Athens 7 3 1 2 5
University of Wisconsin-Madison 8 13 14 12 8
Penn State University 9 11 7 3 1
Lehigh University 10 NR NR NR NR
University of Georgia 11 5 2 1 4
Florida State University 12 8 8 11 9
DePauw University 13 12 15 10 15
University of Mississippi 14 14 3 5 3
University of Texas-Austin 15 15 10 6 7
Miami University-Ohio 16 9 NR NR NR
University of Maryland-College Park 17 16 18 19 NR
Tulane University 18 NR NR NR 19
University of Vermont 19 NR 19 NR NR
University of Oregon 20 NR NR NR NR
University of South Carolina NR 17 20 NR NR
James Madison University NR 18 NR NR NR
University of Maine NR 19 NR NR NR
University of Tennessee NR 20 NR NR 16
University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa NR NR NR 13 NR
Sewanee-The University of the South NR NR NR 14 17
Indiana University-Bloomington NR NR 16 15 14
Louisiana State University NR NR 13 NR NR
University of Colorado-Boulder NR NR NR 16 11
University of Missouri NR NR NR 17 NR
Michigan State University NR NR NR 20 NR
Union College (NY) NR NR NR NR 13
University of North Dakota NR NR NR NR 18
Arizona State University NR NR 17 NR 20

Source: The Princeton Review