Student Life

Top Party Schools Ranked: 2016-2017

Elizabeth Hoyt

May 15, 2017

Top Party Schools Ranked: 2016-2017
Find out who landed the Princeton Review's number one party school spot this year.
It’s been a highly anticipated (or highly dreaded list) of students and college administrators across the nation since 1993: the Princeton Review’s annual list of top party schools. The 2016-2017 have been ranked 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. The methodology behind the rankings is fairly simple and straightforward. According to the Princeton Review, the data is compiled from surveys of 143,000 students at the 381 schools and rankings reflect the tallied results.
SPOILER ALERT: for the first time in a decade, UW-Madison is the top party school in the nation, bumping last year’s top party school, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to number two this year. Whether you hate-to-love or love-to-hate the list, it’s vital to keep in mind that there’s much more than meets the eye (or ranking) at each of these schools. That’s why include aspects these schools have to offer...other than a great frat party.

10. Colgate University – Hamilton, NY

The nearly 2,900 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, 48 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 #7 for “Great Financial Aid,” #10 for “Best Financial Aid,” landing the #9 spot for “Most Beautiful Campus,” the #18 ranking for “Best Career Placement” and #15 on the “Top 50 Colleges That Pay You Back” list. Colgate University additionally made the cut for other ranked lists which include “The Best 381 Colleges,” the “Best Northeastern’’ Colleges, “Colleges That Pay You Back,” “Green Colleges.”

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), it holds the same slot as last year’s “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 nearly 7,000 undergrads come from all over – 76 percent are from out of state including and 37 from foreign countries. 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 “Most Engaged in Community Service” and #1 on the “Lots of Hard Liquor” list. At least these students know how to balance their lifestyles! But, Tulane’s rankings didn’t stop there. Tulane University also landed other college ranking spots, too. Tulane came in at #2 on the “College City Gets High Marks” list and #6 on the “Best Quality of Life” list. Tulane University also ranked on other lists including “The Best 381 Colleges,” the “Best Southeastern’’ colleges, “Colleges That Pay You Back,” and “Green Colleges.”

8. Syracuse University – Syracuse, NY

Syracuse University dropped from having coveted #1 “Party Schools” spot two years ago, to #5 last year and fell to #8 this year. Though the partying may have gone down within the past few years, students at Syracuse still know how to have a great time. In fact, this university isn’t just home to just over 15,000 dedicated undergraduate partiers – they’ve got spirit, too. The school landed the #1 spot on “Students Pack the Stadiums” list. Syracuse also holds two top ten spots within media lists, for those of you looking to pursue careers in those fields: #5 for “Best College Newspaper” and #6 for “Best College Radio Station.” Plus, Syracuse University is also named one of The Best 381 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.

7. University of Mississippi – University, MS

The University of Mississippi made this year’s top ten list at #7 – and wasn’t even within last year’s top ten. Commonly known as Ole Miss, the school enrolls nearly 19,000 undergraduate students. Also ranking in at #7 for the school where “Students Study the Least,” the school also landed the #11 spot for “Lots of Greek Life, and took spots on both the “The Best 381 Colleges” and the “Best Southeastern” colleges lists.

6. University of Iowa – Iowa City, IA

For the previous two years, the University of Iowa was the runner-up in the Princeton Review’s Top Party School Rankings. This year, however, the school dropped several slots to #6. 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 23,000 undergraduate students in attendance. This sense of community is likely why the school ranked #5 on the Princeton Review’s “Happiest Students” 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 #14 on the “Lots of Greek Life” list, with 13 percent of students joining a fraternity and 18 percent joining a sorority. However, this university boasts a lot more than tailgating on game days or kegs at frat parties. The University of Iowa offers a broad range of options for its students, including the infamous Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Not only is it ranked as a top party school, the University of Iowa also ranked on some other Princeton Review lists, including the #5 spot on the “Best College Library” list, ranking #8 on “Best Health Services” and #11 for the “Best College Newspaper.” The university also landed on other Princeton Review College Rankings lists such as, “The Best 381 Colleges,” “Best Midwestern” Colleges and was among one of the “Green Colleges.”

5. Bucknell University – Lewisburg, PA

Jumping from the #4 spot last year to the #5 spot this year, Bucknell University students may have cooled down the party scene - a bit. 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. The school’s size allows for an impressive student-to-faculty-ratio (9.2:1) and classes and labs generally 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 89 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, 42 percent of the student body joins a fraternity and 49 percent join a sorority. Bucknell’s other Princeton Review College Rankings this year include the #2 spot on the “Little Race/Class Interaction” list (over 76 percent of the student body is Caucasian), the #4 spot for “Most Beautiful Campus” and landing the #12 ranking on the “Best Alumni Network” list. It was also ranked by The Princeton Review as a “Best Northeastern College,” among “The Best 381 Colleges,” “Colleges That Pay You Back,” and “Green Colleges” list.

4. Lehigh University – Bethlehem, PA

Lehigh University skipped being in the top ten last year but came back with a vengeance this year, landing the #4 spot. As a small, urban university, the school is home to just over 5,000 undergraduates. Clearly that doesn’t stop students from having a great time in college. It was also ranked by The Princeton Review as a “Best Northeastern College,” among “The Best 381 Colleges,” “Colleges That Pay You Back,” and “Green Colleges.” Lehigh’s other Princeton Review College Rankings include the #7 spot for “Lots of Greek Life” and the #8 spot on the “Best Science Lab Facilities” list.

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

Dropping from the #1 spot last year, which was 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, this school takes this year’s #3 spot. In addition to being one of the top college party headquarters, 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. In fact, the school was also ranked #8 on the “Lots of Greek Life” list. With plenty of Greek organizations to choose from, 23 percent of students join a sorority (23 percent of students also join a fraternity). Around 140 miles south of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is considered a one of the most diverse within the Big Ten. It’s 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 #5 on the “Best Athletic Facilities” list and was listed at #20 for “Best Career Services.” It’s also ranked by The Princeton Review as a “Best Midwestern” College, among “The Best 381 Colleges,” “Green Colleges” and one of the “Colleges That Pay You Back.”

2. West Virginia University – Morgantown, WV

West Virginia University, commonly known as WVU, was ranked as the #7 party school last year and jumped to the #2 spot this year. WVU was ranked at #1 in 2013, 2008 and 1998 – so they’re slowly but steadily regaining their party school status. A little over 22,000 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 #2 spot on the Princeton Review’s “Students Pack the Stadiums” list. 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 #6 for “Best Athletic Facilities,” and ranks as #6 on the “Students Study the Least” 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 381 Colleges” and “Green Colleges.”

1. University of Wisconsin - Madison – Madison, WI

This university brought its A-game to the party scene this year. The University of Wisconsin - Madison sailed from last year’s number #3 spot all the way to the top tier of collegiate partying: #1. 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, also taking the #1 ranking on the “Best Health Services” list and #4 on the LGBTQ-Friendly list. Additional Princeton Review College Rankings including the #13 spot for the “Best College Library,” and ranks at #10 for the “Best College Newspaper.” It was also ranked by The Princeton Review as a “Best Midwestern College,” among “The Best 381 Colleges,” and “Colleges That Pay You Back.”

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, “Schools that make it onto any of our 62 top 20 lists are those at which the surveyed students (as a group) indicated a very high consensus of opinion about that topic.” As a result, please note that these rankings are compiled solely based on student opinions and should be taken as such. To learn more about the methodology used in the Princeton Review survey or how ranking is determined, please visit the Princeton Review’s College Ranking Methodology 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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