Top 10 Party Schools of 2016

Can you guess which school landed the #1 spot?

Elizabeth Hoyt

June 09, 2016

Top 10 Party Schools of 2016

Whether you hate to love or love to hate it, you cannot help but keep your eyes peeled each year to find out which schools made the cut for the Princeton Review’s Party Schools 2016.

The long awaited top party schools list is out and while many students will immediately rush to submit their applications to the schools that party the most, others are turned off at the mere mention of the college party scene.

Whichever end of the spectrum your personality lands under, it’s important to remember that there’s much more than meets the eye (or ranking) at each of these schools.

So, as we count down the top ten of the Princeton Review’s Party Schools, we’ll also take an in-depth look at what these schools have to offer…other than a great toga party.

10. Colgate University – Hamilton, NY

The 2,890 undergraduate students in attendance at Colgate University must be doing something right. Not only is the school ranked #10 on the “Party Schools” list, but the school is also known for its “very rigorous academic curriculum.” In fact, 44 percent of admitted students have a 3.75 GPA or higher!

It sounds like these students know how to work – and play – hard.

The university’s undergraduate student body is comprised of a vast majority, 73 percent, of out-of-state students and Greek life tends to play a major role on campus.

In addition to holding the #10 party school spot, Colgate University also landed on plenty of brag-worthy Princeton Review College Rankings this year, including being ranked at #11 for “Best Financial Aid,” #17 for “Great Financial Aid,” landing the #9 spot for “Most Beautiful Campus,” the #19 ranking for “Best Career Placement” and #22 on the “Top 50 Colleges That Pay You Back” list.

Colgate University additionally made the cut for other ranked lists which include “The Best 380 Colleges,” the “Best Northeastern’’ Colleges, “Colleges That Pay You Back,” “Green Colleges” and “Private Schools.”

9. Tulane University of Louisiana – New Orleans, LA

Tulane University comes in at #9 this year and, while the school has been ranked on previous party school lists (Tulane even ranked #1 in 1993), wasn’t on last year’s top ten “Party Schools” list.

The university is well-known for a lot, including being known for its research worldwide, being a historical institution (the university was founded in New Orleans in 1834), and being one of the most well-respected universities in the United States. The school’s 6,488 undergrads hail from all 50 states and many international countries.

Plus, Tulane University has the highest percentage of students that travel the farthest to school compared to any other college/university in the nation. Over 75 percent of Tulane’s freshman students travel from more than 500 miles away, so it makes sense that Tulane would be rated #14 on the Princeton Review’s “Their Students Love These Colleges” list.

Beating out it’s #9 ranking on the “Party Schools” list, the university was also ranked #1 on two of the Princeton Review College Rankings lists: #1 – College City Gets High Marks and #1 – Lots of Hard Liquor.

But, Tulane’s rankings didn’t stop there. Tulane University also landed other college ranking spots, too. Tulane came in at #5 on the “Students Most Engaged in Community Service” list, ranked #10 on the “Happiest Students” list, #12 on the “Best Quality of Life” list and #15 for “Easiest to Get Around Campus.”

Tulane University also ranked on other lists including “The Best 380 Colleges,” the “Best Southeastern’’ Colleges, “Colleges That Pay You Back,” “Green Colleges” and “Private Schools.”

8. University of Georgia – Athens, GA

Coming in at #8, the University of Georgia, finally made an appearance again after being left off last year’s top ten. In 2011, the school was ranked #1 on the “Party Schools” list.

The University of Georgia enrolls 26,278 undergraduate students, only 8 percent of which come from out-of-state, though 125 foreign countries are still represented.

The university has good graduation rates for its undergraduate student body – 58 percent of which graduate in four years and 81 percent of which graduate in five.

The student body is active, especially in intramural sports, which landed the university the #20 spot on the Princeton Review’s “Everyone Plays Intramural Sports” list. In fact, 49 percent of the student body participates in an intramural sport and 2 percent participates in intercollegiate sports.

In addition to being ranked as the #8 Party School, the University of Georgia also received some additional Princeton Review College Rankings, many of which we’re party-related (sorry, faculty and staff). The university landed at #4 on the “Lots of Hard Liquor” list, #16 on the “Students Study the Least” list and ranked #18 on the “Lots of Beer” list.

Additionally, the University of Georgia also made the list for one of the “Best Southeastern’’ Colleges, “The Best 380 Colleges,” “Colleges That Pay You Back,” “Public Schools” and “Green Colleges.”

7. West Virginia University – Morgantown, WV

West Virginia University, commonly known as WVU, was ranked as the #4 Party School last year, falling to #7 this year. WVU was ranked at #1 in 2013, 2008 and 1998.

About 22,600 undergraduate students call West Virginia University home, over 90 percent of which are full-time students.

But, WVU does offer more than just a great time. The school boasts a wonderful sense of school spirit, with a student body that seems to unanimously describe a sense of pride they feel for their school so it’s no surprise that WVU landed the #8 spot on the Princeton Review’s “Students Pack the Stadiums” list.

One such student quoted on the Princeton Review stated, “West Virginia University is all about combining such high academic standards with the atmosphere of Mountaineer pride, only something you can feel at a football game singing ‘Country Roads’ with 50,000 of your closest friends.”

WVU’s rankings make it clear that students definitely know how to throw a great bash, but the school has plenty of other great aspects, too. It’s also listed in the Princeton Review College Rankings at #9 for “Best Athletic Facilities,” #14 for “Best College Newspaper” and ranks as #18 on the “Best College Library” list.

In addition to landing spots in ranked lists, WVU also landed on some of the other Princeton Review College lists as one of the “Best Southeastern’’ Colleges, “The Best 380 Colleges” and “Green Colleges.”

6. University of California – Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara, CA

Falling from the #3 spot last year, the University of California – Santa Barbara, commonly referred to as USCB, comes in at the #6 Party School spot for 2015-2016’s list.

The University of California – Santa Barbara is home to just over 20,000 undergraduate students who must be smarty pants because they got in – 83 percent of high school applicants admitted have over a 3.75 GPA. Plus, the school boasts an impressive average high school GPA of 3.98 and an acceptance rate of 36 percent.

The small urban campus is full of life, with students actively participating in one or more of the university’s 425 registered student organizations, 12 honor societies and plenty of Greek and religious organizations as well as both men and women’s athletics to choose from.

Plus, students get to experience perks like enjoying the views from the cliffs of the Pacific and the college’s very own lagoon. Perhaps this helps enhance the students’ appreciation of nature and that’s why the university is ranked #3 on the Princeton Review’s “Top 50 Green Colleges” list.

The school’s Princeton Review College Rankings demonstrate a mix of work and play, it’s ranked as #12 on the “Happiest Students” list, #23 on the “Colleges That Pay You Back (Without Aid)” list and also ranked #32 on “Colleges That Pay You Back.”

The University of California – Santa Barbara also ranked on some other Princeton Review lists, including “The Best 380 Colleges,” the “Best Western” Colleges, “Colleges That Pay You Back,” “Green Colleges” and “Public Schools.”

5. Syracuse University – Syracuse, NY

Syracuse University dropped from last year’s coveted #1 “Party Schools” spot all the way to #5 this year.

This university isn’t just home to just over 15,200 dedicated partiers – they’re impressive undergraduates, too. In fact, the Princeton Review ranked the university at #6 for “2015 Top Entrepreneurial Programs: Undergraduate.” The university also holds two top ten spots within media lists, for those of you looking to pursue careers in those fields: #9 for “Best College Newspaper” and #10 for “Best College Radio Station.”

Plus, Syracuse University is also named one of The Best 380 Colleges, amongst the “Green Colleges” and a Best Northeastern College by the Princeton Review. And, believe it or not, none of that has to do with partying on campus.

Syracuse also ranks #7 on their “Students Pack the Stadiums” list, #11 on the “Lots of Greek Life” list and #15 for “Most Popular Study Abroad Program” – all of which bring unique aspects to student life at the university.

4. Bucknell University – Lewisburg, PA

Somebody brought their party game this year. Jumping from the #9 spot last year to the #4 spot this year, Bucknell University students apparently proved they can party hardier than ever before.

With just over 3,500 undergraduates, Bucknell is a small private liberal arts university which was founded in 1846 as a “literary institution.” Today, it offers much more than its original literary roots – the school has expanded to offer academic programs in everything from the arts and humanities to social and natural sciences including almost 50 majors and over 60 minors.

The school’s size allows for an impressive student-to-faculty-ratio (9:1) and classes tend to range anywhere from 10-19 students, allowing for individualized attention. Perhaps this is why the university also boasts impressive graduation rates: 85 percent of Buckell’s students graduate in four years and 88 percent within five.

There’s a massive Greek life presence on the small village-like campus – the Princeton Review ranks the university at #1 on the Lots of Greek Life list. In fact, 41 percent of the student body joins a fraternity and 47 percent join a sorority.

Bucknell’s other Princeton Review College Rankings this year includes the #6 spot on the “Little Race/Class Interaction” list (over 83 percent of the student body is Caucasian), the #17 spot for “Most Beautiful Campus” and landing the #21 ranking on the “Best Alumni Network” list.

It was also ranked by The Princeton Review as a “Best Northeastern College,” among “The Best 380 Colleges,” “Colleges That Pay You Back,” “Green Colleges” and “Private Schools.”

3. University of Wisconsin – Madison – Madison, WI

Another school that brought its A-game to the party scene, the University of Wisconsin – Madison sailed from last year’s number #8 spot all the way to the top tier of collegiate partying: #3.

Commonly known as UW Madison, this university offers it’s over 31,000 undergraduates much more than just a party scene. The university boasts high rankings by the Princeton Review in important areas for students, such as #5 on the “Best Health Services” list and #10 on the LGBTQ-Friendly list.

Additional Princeton Review College Rankings including the #14 spot for the “Best College Library,” coming in at #15 for the “Best College Newspaper”and, last but not least, #16 on the “Best Alumni Network” list.

It was also ranked by The Princeton Review as a “Best Midwestern College,” among “The Best 380 Colleges,” “Colleges That Pay You Back,” and “Public Schools.”

2. University of Iowa – Iowa City, IA

For the second year in a row, the University of Iowa is the runner-up in the Princeton Review’s Top Party School Rankings. But, that doesn’t seem to get in the way of students having a good time.

Fun fact: the University of Iowa was ranked #1 in 2014.

After all, what’s there to do in Iowa besides go to class? Party, of course! Located in Iowa City, this school is part of the Big Ten but still manages to feel like a smaller college, despite having just over 22,300 undergraduate students in attendance.

And, as with most of the Big Ten schools, you’ll find that the Hawkeyes fans and school spirit plays a major role on campus. That’s likely why the school ranked #4 on the Princeton Review’s “Students Pack the Stadiums” list.

The school has a strong Greek life presence, in addition to packing stadiums with sports fans game after game – as any great Big Ten school does. It landed at #12 on the “Lots of Greek Life” list, with 14 percent of students joining a fraternity and 19 percent joining on of 23 social sororities to choose from.

However, this university boasts a lot more than tailgating on game days or kegs at frat parties. With more than 5,000 courses offered each year, the University of Iowa offers a broad range of more than 200 areas of study for its students, including the infamous Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

Not only is it ranked as a top party school and students packing stadiums, the University of Iowa also ranked on some other Princeton Review lists, including the #17 spot on the “Best Health Services” list, ranking #15 on “Students Study the Least” and #19 for the “Best College Newspaper.”

The university also landed on other Princeton Review College Rankings lists such as, “The Best 380 Colleges,” “Best Midwestern” Colleges and was among one of the “Green Colleges.”

1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Champaign, IL

New to number one, this is the first year is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has ever claimed the top party school spot in the Princeton Review’s “Party Schools” rankings.

Last year, the school was ranked #5 on the “Party Schools” list.

In addition to being the college party headquarters of 2015-2016, the University of Illinois claims some other high ranking spots on some Princeton Review College Rankings lists.

Nearly 33,000 undergraduate students attend the school, which is known for being one of the founding members of the Big Ten conference. Placing an importance on athletics is likely what also landed this school the #3 spot on the “Best Athletic Facilities” list.

Also, Greek life is pretty big on campus. With 36 social sororities to choose from, 23 percent of students join a sorority (23 percent of students also join a fraternity). That’s likely why the school ranked at #2 on the “Lots of Greek Life” list. Around 140 miles south of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is considered a “Public Ivy” and is research-intensive – it’s even designated as a RU-VH Research University (very high research activities).

Amongst the many prestigious academic rankings, this university is also ranked on some other Princeton Review lists, including a mix of both party-centric and student life topics.

The university landed at #3 on the “Lots of Hard Liquor” list, #5 on the “Lots of Beer” list, ranked at #10 on the “Financial Aid Not So Great” list, came in at #17 for “Colleges That Pay You Back (Without Aid),” listed at #20 for “Best Career Services,” and, finally, ranked #24 on the “Top 50 Green Colleges” list.

It’s also ranked by The Princeton Review as a “Best Midwestern” College, among “The Best 380 Colleges,” one of the “Colleges That Pay You Back” and amongst the “Public Schools” and “Green Colleges.”



PLEASE NOTE: Princeton Review rankings (and all college rankings, for that matter) should be taken with a grain of salt, a sense of humor and the awareness that rankings are opinion-based and not factually-based. The Princeton Review surveys students and their answers determine how the school ranks.

According to the Princeton Review, “Most of the lists are based on students’ answers to one survey question: some lists are based on students’ answers to several questions. But all of our lists are based on our student survey results. They are the sole factors that determine which schools make it onto our 62 ranking lists and at what rank.”

As a result, please note that these rankings are compiled solely based on student opinions and should be taken as such. While administrators do have an opportunity to review rankings and respond with comments, objections and corrections, the Princeton Review makes changes “when warranted.” To learn more about the methodology used in the Princeton Review survey or how ranking is determined, please visit the Princeton Review’s “How It Works” page.

Does the top party schools list make any difference to you? Are there schools on here that you think should or should not be listed? Let us know what you think! Tweet us @PayingForSchool using #TopPartySchools to join the conversation.

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