UW-Madison Is Ranked The Top Party School For 2017 By Princeton Review

Time to commence a predictable cycle of these party school rankings.
UW Madison is ranked the top party school for 2017.
UW Madison is ranked the top party school for 2017.
The Badger Herald via YouTube

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is ranked the top party school in the nation in the annual rankings released Monday by the Princeton Review.

Following the Badgers, West Virginia University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign came in at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. It’s the first time in a decade that UW-Madison took the top slot in the party school ranking. Illinois took the top spot last year.

Princeton Review, which publishes an annual guide to picking and preparing for colleges, has ranked the top party schools since 1993. The rankings are based on student surveys distributed to 143,000 students at 381 colleges.

UW-Madison was ranked No. 3 in the Princeton Review party school list last year. However, many of the various party school rankings have placed the University of Wisconsin flagship campus high on their lists.

As usual, for the 19th year in a row, Brigham Young University’s Provo campus was ranked the most “stone-cold sober” school by Princeton Review, a title they’re proud to clinch. The most sober schools are often a mix of religious institutions and military academies, and 2017 is no different.

Behind BYU, the College of the Ozarks, Wheaton College in Illinois, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado and Gordon College in Massachusetts round out the top five sober campuses.

The rankings are based on surveys distributed to students, asking 80 questions about their school’s academics, campus life and student body. Respondents answer by marking one of five choices on a grid, according to the Princeton Review, like a range from stating something on campus is “awful” to “excellent.” They reflect opinions rather than empirical evidence.

Each year, they put out 62 different lists with the top 20 colleges ranked for various topics.

The Princeton Review comes up with the party school and stone cold sober rankings based on a combination of “low personal daily study hours (outside of class), high usages of alcohol and drugs on campus and high popularity on campus for frats/sororities.”

A scene from the Mifflin Block party at UW Madison in 2015.
A scene from the Mifflin Block party at UW Madison in 2015.
The Badger Herald via YouTube

The Top 20 Party Schools In The Nation, Ranked By The Princeton Review For 2016-17:

  1. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  2. West Virginia University
  3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  4. Lehigh University
  5. Bucknell University
  6. University of Iowa
  7. University of Mississippi
  8. Syracuse University
  9. Tulane University
  10. Colgate University
  11. University of California―Santa Barbara
  12. University of Delaware
  13. University of Rhode Island
  14. Wake Forest University
  15. College of Charleston
  16. University of Maine
  17. University of Vermont
  18. University of Florida
  19. University of Colorado―Boulder
  20. Florida State University

Ranking high on the Princeton Review’s annual list for party schools results in a pretty typical series of events: People quickly celebrate their school’s achievement, or argue about the merits on the rankings (”I can’t believe that college beat us! We party so much harder!”). Then the university issues a statement criticizing the Princeton Review’s rankings as inaccurate, trying to distance themselves from it, even though they’re happy to promote less controversial honors from the company. (Will UW Madison celebrate their ranking this year by Princeton Review as No. 1 for best health services, hm?)

Often, the school will then deploy initiatives to try taming the students, which doesn’t always work. Other websites will put out their own party school rankings because they would like some website traffic, please. Sometimes they’re pretty accurate, and other times, they make absolutely no sense, like when Playboy said the University of Pennsylvania was the top party school in the nation. (Yeah, no.)

Then a new school is picked by the Princeton Review as the top party school the following year, and the previous champion university can go back to selling branded alcohol accessories.

So let’s start that process for the 2016-17 cycle, with UW-Madison’s comment issued today in response to the new party school coronation:

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have an incredible sense of pride in this institution and great camaraderie with their fellow Badgers that contributes to making our university an enjoyable place to attend school. But this is only half of the story. UW-Madison is also an exceptional place to learn, conduct research and serve our community. We rank among the world’s top 25 universities, in the top five in research expenditures and are second in the nation in producing Peace Corps volunteers.
However, as at many institutions of higher education, high-risk alcohol use on campus remains a pressing public health concern that negatively impacts campus safety and students’ academic progress and well-being. Through programs such as AlcoholEdu, which is mandatory for incoming students, we educate students so they can make informed choices about alcohol use. These programs are helping shape students’ behavior in more positive directions - many of our students report that they choose to drink in moderation, infrequently or not at all. Data from the National College Health Assessment shows nearly 10 percent of the student body are non-drinkers and 56 percent of students are low-risk drinkers (zero to four drinks).


Tyler Kingkade is a national reporter based in New York. You can contact him at tyler.kingkade@huffingtonpost.com, or find him on Twitter: @tylerkingkade.

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