You’re already picturing vandalized property and crazed college kids, but don’t be fooled — many party schools boast quality academics, research programs, and faculty, too. So what defines a “party school” when colleges retain such high honors?
The strength of athletic programs, size of the college’s town, special events, and testimonials can all make a difference. To rank the party schools with the brightest students, this list combines information from BroBible and The Princeton Review with national listings from Forbes and U.S. News and World Report. Here are the colleges that balance studies and socializing the best:
7. University of Southern California - Los Angeles, CA
Image by James Chang
How they party: USC’s plentiful number of campus fountains spawned the Fountain Run, in which intoxicated seniors attempt to splash through each one.
Why they’re smart: 251 members of USC’s 2012 freshman class were National Merit Scholars; four faculty members are Nobel Laureates.
6. University of Texas - Austin, TX
Image from Wikipedia
How they party: Tailgates and downtown scene aside, UT’s Round Up weekend is the ultimate competition between fraternities to prove who can host the best party.
Why they’re smart: UT hosts Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize recipients among its faculty, and owns about 800 patents from groundbreaking research.
5. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Urbana, IL
Image from Youtube
How they party: U of I hosts Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day, in which bars open in the morning, students from nearby schools flock to parties on campus, and local police guard lecture halls.
Why they’re smart: 70 Fortune 100 companies came to U of I last year to recruit upcoming graduates. The university is also home to over 150 research centers.
4. University of Florida - Gainesville, FL
Image by Amanda
How they party: A strong emphasis on Greek life, bar-centric downtown scene, and love for tailgate parties during football season make UF a classic party school.
Why they’re smart: UF’s incoming freshman class has an average GPA of 4.4; over 96 percent of them ranked above the national average for standardized test scores.
3. University of Wisconsin - Madison, WI
Image by Mark Sadowsko
How they party: The Mifflin Street Block Party is a huge annual rager that has been happening once a year since 1969. Balconies and backyards become stages for musicians.
Why they’re smart: Service hours, classes, and capstone projects can grant UW-Madison students a leadership certificate demonstrating their mark on the community.
2. University of California - Santa Barbara, CA
Image by Glenn Beltz
How they party: UCSB students love hanging out during Deltopia, which is basically a giant (occasionally riotous) beach bash.
Why they’re smart: The majority of UCSB students collaborate with faculty on creative or research-based projects before they graduate.
1. Pennsylvania State University - University Park, PA
Image by Ben Stanfield
How they party: Penn State students use football weekends to stay up late, tailgate early, go crazy during the game, and recover on Sunday.
Why they’re smart: Penn State ranks highest in the country for student-run philanthropy and ties for third in number of Fulbright Scholars.
If you want to attend a party school and focus on your studies at the same time, try these tips:
Designate places for partying and homework (and stick to them). Heading to the library could signal to your brain that it’s time to study; coming home could trigger relaxation and socializing.
Choose friends with common goals. Groups with similar academic goals may keep you more accountable with schoolwork.
Work for your reward. If you want to hang out with your friends, do it after you’ve accomplished a certain amount of studying.
When it comes to college, you don’t have to choose between academics and a hot social scene — these schools will give you the best of both.
The 50 best party schools in the U.S., ranked and reviewed. (2013, April 3). Retrieved from BroBible
Top party schools: Princeton Review releases 2013-14 rankings. (2013, August 5). Retrieved from Huffington Post
America’s top colleges. (2013, July 1). Retrieved from Forbes
National University Rankings. (2014). Retrieved from U.S. News and World Report