Best Party Schools

Parties can be one of the best things about college. Many colleges don't like to be labeled as a party school, so here's what they don't want you to know.

Rather than making a limited list of top 10 party schools, we have included a roundup of all colleges that are some of the biggest partiers in the nation, as well as a history of popular top party school rankings.

Traditionally speaking, here are the most well-known top party schools in America:

Recommended College Resources

  • West Virginia University - West Virginia is almost always near the top of every top party school list. This place is insane!
  • UC Santa Barbara - Right on the beach. Great Halloween parties. Located in Isla Vista, Del Playa Drive is where it's at.
  • Arizona State University - Hot weather + hot coeds = hot parties. Tempe also has some cool local bars, including The Library and Dos Gringos Trailer Park Bar.
  • San Diego State University - Surf, study and party. Being in San Diego is the perfect place for all three. Being close to Mexico is also a plus.
  • Washington State University (aka Wazzu) - Nothing to do in this small town of Pullman but drink beer.
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison - Another beer city with a huge bar scene.
  • Indiana University Bloomington - Bloomington is a small college town with a ton of students always looking to party. Its big event is the Little 500, a top college tradition involving a bicycle race modeled off of the Indy 500.
  • Mississippi - Huge Greek scene and home to the one of the best tailgating sites in America: The Grove.
  • Texas - A huge student body guarantees there will always be lots of partying.
  • Ohio University - Another great party school that has a huge Halloween party that attracts college partiers from all over.
  • Florida State - Made the list on Playboy's Top 10 Party Schools.
  • Penn State - Was ranked #2 in a recent list of Princeton Review's Top Party Schools.
  • Chico State - For a smaller school (compared to others on this list), Chico State packs a big punch when it comes to partying. It topped Playboy's very first ranking of party schools way back in 1987 and was named #2 in 2002. The annual Chico Labor Day Float alone puts the school on this list.
  • University of Arizona - There is something about hot weather that brings out the partying in people.
  • Alabama - Alabama parties so hard even their old football coach Mike Price was fired for his conduct around Alabama.
  • LSU - Tailgating and college football.
  • Florida - You can always find a party here as it's one of the largest colleges in the nation with an enrollment of over 50,000.
  • Iowa - Big bar scene in the city of Iowa City.
  • Georgia - There is something about college football and partying that just seem to go together.
  • Tennessee - See above.
  • University of Colorado - Boulder - Colorado is home to reefer madness: every April 10,000+ turn out for the annual 4/20 smoke-out on campus. Boulder is also great for beer with four breweries in town.
  • SUNY Albany and SUNY Oneonta (aka Stoneonta) - Just check out the Kegs and Eggs weekend at Albany.
  • East Carolina University - Yet another school who is on this list just because of their Halloween party.

Others party schools worth mentioning:
UCONN
UCF
Tulane

Princeton Review's Top Party Schools

Party

The category that seems to receive the most attention in the annual Princeton Review college rankings, is the ranking of the Top Party Schools in the nation.

The Princeton Review's Top Party Schools ranking is based on surveys taken by over 137,000 college students nationwide that asked questions concerning drug and alcohol use at their respective colleges. Other statistics taken into account in the party school ranking are the amount of students in a fraternity or sorority, and other things such as the number of hours students study outside of class.

While the #1 party school seems to change every year, there are certainly schools that are traditionally included in the rankings year after year. Some schools listed in the rankings frown upon the fact that their college is labeled as a "party school", as it seems to overshadow what the school has to offer academically, thanks to the buzz created by party school rankings.

Princeton Review's Top Party Schools for 2012

When Princeton Review released the party school rankings for 2012, it had Ohio University celebrating the fact they were finally named the #1 party school.

The top two party schools swapped spots this year from the last ranking with Ohio taking the title from Georgia. (Fun Fact: Both schools are located in a city called Athens.) It’s no wonder Ohio is #1 after ranking tops in the "Lots of Beer" category and #2 in "Lots of Hard Liquor” as well.

Of course, more and more are starting to question the methodology of the Princeton Review rankings and the rankings in general seem to be losing steam year after year.

Schools on the Top Party Schools ranking are those at which student survey answers indicated low study time, high use of alcohol and drugs, and a highly popular Greek system.

Princeton Review Top 20 Party Schools for 2012:

  1. Ohio University
  2. University of Georgia
  3. University of Mississippi
  4. University of Iowa
  5. University of California Santa Barbara
  6. West Virginia University
  7. Penn State University
  8. Florida State University
  9. University of Florida
  10. University of Texas
  11. University of Illinois
  12. Syracuse University
  13. Louisiana State University
  14. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  15. DePauw University
  16. Indiana University
  17. Arizona State University
  18. University of Maryland
  19. University of Vermont
  20. University of South Carolina

Stone-Cold Sober Schools (Worst Party Schools)

Schools on the “Stone-Cold Sober Schools” ranking are those at which student answers indicated a combination of lots of study time outside of class, low use of alcohol and drugs, and a low interest in fraternities and sororities.

  1. Brigham Young University
  2. Wheaton College (Ill)
  3. Wesleyan College
  4. U.S. Coast Guard Academy
  5. U.S. Military Academy
  6. U.S. Naval Academy
  7. Calvin College
  8. Grove City College
  9. Pepperdine University
  10. City University of New York
  11. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
  12. U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
  13. U.S. Air Force Academy
  14. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
  15. City University of New York -- Queens College
  16. Thomas Aquinas College
  17. University of Dallas
  18. Agnes Scott College
  19. College of the Ozarks
  20. Gustavus Adolphus College

Other categories in the Princeton Review rankings that relate to “partying” include:

Most Beer Drinkers

  1. Ohio University
  2. University of New Hampshire
  3. Claremont McKenna College
  4. Penn State
  5. West Virginia University
  6. University of Florida
  7. Providence
  8. Florida State
  9. Georgia
  10. Texas

Most Hard Liquor Drinkers

  1. Providence
  2. Ohio University
  3. Trinity College (CT)
  4. Tulane
  5. St. Bonaventure University
  6. Georgia
  7. Indiana
  8. Iowa
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Mississippi

Reefer Madness (Most Potheads)

  1. Colorado College
  2. University of California - Santa Cruz
  3. University of California - Santa Barbara
  4. University of Colorado
  5. Bard College
  6. Lewis and Clark College
  7. Warren Wilson College
  8. Eckerd College
  9. New College of Florida
  10. University of Vermont

Students Study the Least

  1. University of North Dakota
  2. Salisbury University
  3. University of Alabama
  4. University of Central Florida
  5. University of South Florida
  6. University of Mississippi
  7. Iowa
  8. LSU
  9. Florida State
  10. Maryland

Princeton Review's Top Party Schools for 2011

Couch Burning

The University of Georgia was ranked number one for the first time, which is surprising considering the effort put forth to curb student drinking. Georgia requires first year and transfer students to complete an interactive online alcohol course, a program that students must pass before the first day of classes. Georgia will also call home to parents when an underage student gets caught drinking.

But Georgia students still have easy access to alcohol with nearly 100 bars located near the Athens campus. In the ranking Georgia took seventh place for students who drink beer and placed in the top 10 for how little students study, the popularity of the Greek system, and how many students attend football games.

Georgia parties so hard, even one of their administrators was busted for a DUI.

But according to this letter to the editor, Georgia is partying way less than it used to:

Call up anyone you know who went to Georgia 10 years ago. Ask them what it was like. Ask them about the rule that stipulates that two alcohol related events within a year of one another will get a student suspended. Ask them about the increased security at bars downtown. Ask them about the newly-instituted pairing of police officers on practically every street corner downtown. Aid them in retrieving their jaws from the floor. Ask them about their craziest college memory – I’m willing to bet it's pretty wild – or at least wilder than yours. Aid yourself in retrieving your jaw from the floor. Inquire into how the Greek life scene was back in the day – then tell them about all of the rules and ‘regs currently in place.

Two factors that determine the top party schools are those with the least amount of study time and the amount of alcohol the students drink. We think it should be those who study more, get high marks, and still make time to party that should get the higher honor. Anyone can go out and party. It takes a special dedication to want to go out late and be social, yet still manage to wake up for that 8am class.

Princeton Review Top 20 Party Schools for 2011:

  1. University of Georgia
  2. Ohio University
  3. Penn State University
  4. West Virginia University
  5. University of Mississippi
  6. University of Texas at Austin
  7. University of Florida
  8. University of California – Santa Barbara
  9. University of Iowa
  10. DePauw University
  11. Florida State University
  12. University of Wisconsin - Madison
  13. University of Alabama
  14. Sewanee - The University of the South
  15. Indiana University - Bloomington
  16. University of Colorado - Boulder
  17. University of Missouri
  18. University of Illinois
  19. University of Maryland
  20. Michigan State University

It is interesting to note that the majority of the colleges in this list also have big football programs with a high presence of tailgating and after game festivities. These are type of schools whose game day parties begin with kegs and eggs and end with burning couches. Something about college sports just brings about the party and riot atmosphere.

Other category rankings in the Princeton Review that relate to “partying” include:

Worst Party Schools

  1. BYU
  2. Wheaton College (Illinois)
  3. U.S. Coast Guard Academy
  4. U.S. Air Force Academy
  5. Wesleyan College
  6. College of the Ozarks
  7. U.S. Naval Academy
  8. U.S. Military Academy
  9. Calvin College
  10. Thomas Aquinas College
  11. Grove City College
  12. Wellesley College
  13. Mills College
  14. Marywood University
  15. Berea College College
  16. Cal State - Stanislaus
  17. CUNY Queens
  18. Mount Holyoke College
  19. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
  20. Agnes Scott College

Most Beer Drinkers

  1. Ohio University – Athens
  2. Pennsylvania State University – University Park
  3. University of New Hampshire
  4. University of Florida
  5. Claremont McKenna College
  6. University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa
  7. University of Georgia
  8. West Virginia University
  9. Colgate University
  10. Providence College

Most Hard Liquor Drinkers

  1. Providence College
  2. University of Georgia
  3. Tulane University
  4. University of Wisconsin – Madison
  5. University of Mississippi
  6. Indiana University – Bloomington
  7. Ohio University – Athens
  8. University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa
  9. Sewanee – The University of the South
  10. Trinity College (CT)

Most Potheads

  1. University of California – Santa Cruz
  2. Eckerd College
  3. Bard College
  4. University of Vermont
  5. Skidmore College
  6. University of Colorado – Boulder
  7. Colorado College
  8. Hampshire College
  9. University of California – Santa Barbara
  10. Ithaca College

Students Study the Least

  1. University of North Dakota
  2. University of Central Florida
  3. University of Mississippi
  4. State University of New York at Albany
  5. West Virginia University
  6. Louisiana State University Baton Rouge
  7. University of Iowa
  8. Florida State University
  9. University of Georgia
  10. Salisbury University

Princeton Review's Top Party Schools for 2010

  1. Penn State University
  2. University of Florida
  3. University of Mississippi
  4. University of Georgia
  5. Ohio University
  6. West Virginia University
  7. University of Texas
  8. University of Wisconsin
  9. Florida State University
  10. University of California-Santa Barbara
  11. University of Colorado
  12. University of Iowa
  13. Union College
  14. Indiana University
  15. DePauw University
  16. University of Tennessee
  17. Sewanee: The University of the South
  18. University of North Dakota
  19. Tulane University
  20. Arizona State University

Princeton Review's Top Party Schools for 2009

  1. University of Florida - Whether you decide to go Greek or not, there is always a place to be in the city of Gainesville. From its sports scene to the Greek scene, there are tons of activities to participate in. Florida has made the Top 20 Party School list for the past 15 years.

  2. University of Mississippi - SEC schools really know how to party. The combination of being in the south and having a solid football program seem to guarantee there will always be party-goers around.

  3. Penn State University - Penn State has a history of being ranked in Princeton Review's Top Party Schools.

  4. West Virginia University - WVU is near the top of every party school list. West Virginia throws the kind of parties where you'll usually find a couch burning in the middle of the street.

  5. Ohio University - This school loves to party. One of its biggest events is during Halloween, easily making it one of the top choices for college students to party for Halloween.

  6. Randolph-Macon College - Randolph-Macon is a very small school (Just over 1100 undergrads) located in Richmond, Virginia.

  7. University of Georgia - Once again the University of Georgia makes the Top 20 Party Schools list coming in at number 7, two spots lower than their ranking the previous year.

  8. University of Texas - Austin - A huge campus with a huge history in college football which can only lead to heavy tailgating and the parties that take place afterwards.

  9. University of California - Santa Barbara - Located right on the beach, this party school is a surfer's paradise with its biggest party scene being Halloween, where thousands of students walk the streets of Isla Vista in costumes.

  10. Florida State University - Florida is a popular location where people are typically looking to party. This is the main reason so many college students choose Florida as a spring break destination. This place is nice year round, so why would it not make this list of top party spots.

  11. University of New Hampshire - There is a great social scene at UNH with lots of campus activities to participate in.

  12. University of Iowa - Iowa is known to have a huge bar scene for college students, making it a great place to party.

  13. University of Colorado at Boulder - The University of Colorado makes its return to the Princeton Review's list of top party colleges. Back in 2003, University of Colorado was named the top party college in the nation.

  14. Indiana University at Bloomington - Bloomington is one of those classic college towns where people like to engulf themselves in large quantities of beer.

  15. Tulane University - Tulane is located in a city that knows how to party: New Orleans.

  16. University of Illinois - The University of Illinois has a huge Greek scene.

  17. Arizona State University - Tempe has a hot campus and some hot bars. With a large student body, there is always something going on everyday of the week.

  18. University of Tennessee - Another college football giant, which usually means they know how to party and tailgate.

  19. University of Alabama - Alabama has a great college sports tradition. Starting to catch a trend here?

  20. Loyola University - New Orleans - Once again, another New Orleans school makes the list. Let's face it, they know how to party down there.

Playboy's Top Party Schools

UCSB Halloween Party

Methodology
Playboy's party school rankings are determined by Playboy editors along with input from students, fans of Playboy's social media pages, alumni, feedback from Playboy campus representatives at schools across the country, and interviews with countless others. Playboy editors analyzed school’s male-female ratios, academics, and the winning percentage of their sports teams, as well as their proximity to beaches, ski slopes and lively music scenes

Playboy's Top Party Schools for 2011

For the third year in a row, and 6th time overall in the magazine’s 58-year history, the 2011 ranking was released and featured in the May 2011 issue of Playboy Magazine (on newsstands April 15). The year's #1 goes to the University of Colorado at Boulder (who was ranked 16th in the Princeton Review ranking).

The magazine’s first list, Top 40 Party Colleges, appeared in the January 1987 issue with Chico State taking the #1 spot. Arizona State is the only school to appear in all six of Playboy's rankings.

Playboy's Top 10 Party Schools for 2011:

  1. University of Colorado at Boulder

    According to Playboy:
    "You know Boulder is a party school because whenever you tell someone that you went there, the first thing they ask is, "Did you graduate?"

  2. Penn State

    According to Playboy:
    "Penn State students don’t let anything stand in the way of an alcohol-soaked holiday—not even an alcohol-soaked vacation."

  3. Arizona State

    According to Playboy:
    “Only in Arizona can you have outrageous pool parties in February.”

  4. University of Western Ontario

    According to Playboy:
    "One of the school’s dorms became so notorious for partying it was nicknamed the Zoo."

  5. University of Texas at Austin

    According to Playboy:
    "Austin is known for its stellar nightlife and music scene, and last year it was dubbed the third best city for singles."

  6. University of Wisconsin - Madison

    According to Playboy:
    "And then there are the epic weekend-long parties—Halloween and the Mifflin Street Block Party being the two standout events. Past celebrations got so big, riots broke out."

  7. University of Georgia

    According to Playboy:
    "Football, sorority girls and drinking are the pillars of SEC life, and UGA reps all three with gusto."

  8. University of Tennessee

    According to Playboy:
    "This is the only school we know of with its own fraternity boxing tournament — a spring event that occurs amid a weeklong party and draws students from all over."

  9. University of Central Florida

    According to Playboy:
    "When you put 56,000 college students 20 minutes from downtown Orlando, you end up with an explosive mix of sun, sand and girls."

  10. University of California - Santa Barbara

    According to Playboy:
    "Every weekend students swarm to parties on Del Playa Drive, and in the spring there’s Floatopia, a drink fest during which students lazily raft along the coast. After Floatopia 2009 drew 12,000 people, authorities put the kibosh on last year’s event."


Best in Class

Also included for the second year in a row is a “Best in Class” list which gives honorable mention to colleges in 18 additional categories. These categories range from “Best Naked Parties” (Yale) to “Hottest Sorority” (San Diego State's Alpha Phi).

Basketball Coach we're measuring for a straitjacket: Kansas State’s Frank Martin.
Best College Sports Bar: The Swamp Restaurant in Gainesville, FL.
Best College Sports Fan: Wild Bill of Utah State.
Best Late-Night Eats: Capicola-and-cheese sandwich from Primanti Brothers, just off the Pitt campus, with built-in french fries, fried egg and mound of coleslaw.
Best Library: The Library Café and Bar, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Best Naked Parties: Yale (seriously).
Best Out-of-the-Way Party School: Montana State University.
Coolest Course: University of California, Berkeley’s “The Sociology of Seinfeld.”
Coolest Facebook Campaign: Jay-Z for Commencement Speaker 2011, Middlebury College.
Coolest Radio Station: DePauw’s WGRE 91.5.
Hottest Sorority: San Diego State's Alpha Phi chapter.
Most Coveted Dorm Room: Suite H33 in Kirkland House, Harvard, where Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook.
Most Delicious Mascot: (Tie) Delta State’s Fighting Okra and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ Fighting Pickles.
Most Lucrative Online Degree: None.
New Drink on Campus: 40-proof Adult Chocolate Milk.
Thirstiest Major: University of California, Davis’s viticulture (grape cultivation) and enology (wine study).
Wallet Drainer: Sarah Lawrence, the most expensive college in America ($57,556/year).
Worst College Rapper: Chet Haze of Northwestern (Tom Hanks’s son).

Playboy's Top Party Schools for 2010

Playboy's ranking of the Top 10 Party Schools for 2010 was was the 5th time the publication has published the list in its 57-year history. In 2009, Playboy announced it would make the list an annual feature in the magazine. The magazine’s first list, Top 40 Party Colleges, appeared in the January 1987 issue with Chico State taking the #1 spot.

This year's #1 goes to the University of Texas at Austin (who was also ranked 7th in the Princeton Review ranking).

What's New
Also included in this year’s ranking is a “Best in Class” series which gives honorable mention to 23 additional schools in certain categories. These categories range from “Hottest Cheerleaders” (USC) to “Best Halloween Party” (Ohio University, which also receives recognition as one of the nation's best college traditions).

Playboy's Top 10 Party Schools for 2010:

  1. University of Texas at Austin
  2. West Virginia University
  3. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  4. University of Miami
  5. East Carolina University
  6. Arizona State University
  7. Rollins College
  8. University of California-Santa Barbara
  9. Plymouth State University
  10. University of Iowa

Best in Class

Hottest Girls: Arizona State University
Best Halloween Party: Ohio University
Best Living Mascot: Uga, the University of Georgia bulldog
Best Unofficial Mascot: Scrotie, of the RISD hockey team the Nads
Best Fish-In-A-Barrel College: Sarah Lawrence, where 73 percent of the student body is female
Best Harmless Prank: Antiquing—dusting your friend's face with flour
Best College Sports Bar: The Houndstooth in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Hottest Cheerleaders: The USC Song Girls
Best Student Section, Basketball: MSU's Izzone, named after Coach Izzo
Best College Radio Station: WSOU, Seton Hall
Best College Drinking Innovation: The Flabongo, a beer bong made out of a lawn flamingo
Hottest Major: Nursing [check out UNC-Chapel Hill]
Best Catholic Party School: Marquette
Best College Sandwich: Fat Philly from the Rutgers grease trucks: two chicken fingers, cheesesteak, gyro meat, two mozzarella sticks, white and red sauces, lettuce and tomato
Best Ivy League Party School: N/A
Best Course: Honors College 299: Far Side Entomology, at Oregon State University
Worst Course: Tree Climbing, Cornell
Hottest New College Sport: Sand volleyball (begins next academic year)
College That Sounds Fun But Isn’t: UNLV
Best Surf School: University of Hawaii
Best Name For Beer Pong: Beer Pong
Best College-Supported Art Project: Brandeis's Liquid Latex Body Art Show.
Hottest College Girlfriend: Baylor's Rachel Glandorf, who dated [and is now engaged to] Texas QB Colt McCoy
Worst Party School: Tie between BYU and Oral Roberts

Playboy's Top Party Schools Ranking History

2009

1. University of Miami
2. University of Texas - Austin
3. San Diego State University
4. University of Florida
5. University of Arizona
6. University of Wisconsin - Madison
7. University of Georgia
8. Louisiana State University
9. University of Iowa
10. West Virginia University

2006

1. University of Wisconsin - Madison
2. UC Santa Barbara
3. Arizona State
4. Indiana
5. San Diego State
6. Florida State
7. Ohio University
8. University of Georgia
9. University of Tennessee
10. McGill University

2002

1. Arizona State
2. Chico State
3. Rollins
4. Louisiana State
5. West Virginia
6. Colorado
7. Wisconsin
8. Connecticut
9. Kansas
10. San Diego State
11. Georgia
12. Ohio State
13. Iowa State
14. Florida State
15. Colorado State
16. Florida
17. Tulane
18. Washington State
19. East Carolina
20. Michigan State
21. Mississippi
22. UC Santa Barbara
23. Lehigh
24. Vanderbilt
25. James Madison

1987 - Top 40 Party Colleges

1. Chico State
2. Miami
3. San Diego State
4. Vermont
5. Slippery Rock
6. Connecticut
7. West Virginia
8. Plymouth State
9. Mercer
10. Virginia
11. SUNY – Cortland
12. Colorado State
13. Arizona State
14. UNLV
15. Boston U.
16. Central Michigan
17. Southern Illinois
18. Ball State
19. Oklahoma State
20. Central Connecticut
21. Maryland
22. Mississippi
23. Western Georgia
24. Texas
25. MIT
26. Kansas
27. Kansas State
28. Glassboro State
29. Florida
30. Eastern Kentucky
31. Iowa
32. Oklahoma
33. Brown
34. Ohio U.
35. UMass
36. Georgia
37. LSU
38. Missouri – Rolla
39. Reed College
40. Fairhaven College

Also see:
Popular College Party Themes
Popular College Party Drinking Games