You guys remember that improv show “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” Where everything is made up and the points don’t really matter?

Party school rankings are just like that except instead of Drew Carey deciding what’s laugh-worthy, you’ve got publications with somewhat of a good reputation passing rulings on which universities get sloshed on a regular basis.

‘Top Party School’ lists suck and are a complete detriment to your school, despite how cool you think being on said list might be.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Wow, somebody sounds bitter just ‘cause their school didn’t make the list.”

First off—shut up, no one likes clichéd internet trolls. And second, I went to Mizzou, which managed to make its way onto a list or two. But more importantly, I actually went there; I can tell you firsthand that my alma mater enjoys their alcoholic beverages, their tailgates, and stretching the definition of ‘higher education’ – so I don’t need a list to tell me the approximate level of party that was had.

In short, these lists are arbitrary, annoying, and probably inaccurate, so I’m going to tell you exactly why you shouldn’t care about them and why your school (probably) sucks.

Every School Parties

Saying you partied in college is like saying you jumped in a pool and got wet. In fact, if someone were to ask you what you did in college and you answered, “I partied. I for sure partied,” then there’s a pretty good chance that you’re either a complete and utter tool or you’re trying to cover for the fact that you never actually partied.

Think about it; for most of us, this was the first time you were living completely out from under your parents’ wings, pushed out of the nest and shoved into buildings with members of the opposite sex and similar age, armed with little to no responsibility and bursting with unrestrained hormones.

And being the 18-22 co-ed melting pots that they are, colleges are conducive to morally-loose parties with just the simple addition of a magic elixir known as alcohol. So it goes without saying that you had a crazy-good time during your undergraduate studies.

Your situation was not at all different from everyone else’s.

However, I will admit that there are some schools that probably operate at a higher ratio of academia to fiesta as compared to others, but that leads us to our second point…

Define “Party”

A quadruple kegger at a fraternity mansion in Athens.

A moonshine bonfire and hayride in Nashville.

A private all-nighter at New York’s hottest club.

All of these are examples of how schools in different regions of the country celebrate the college years classified by the same simple word: ‘Party.’  And I assure you, any of these (and more) would be exceptionally fun.

How then, do you describe how one is any better than the other? While the New York socialites might not find a southern SEC tailgate to be their cup of sweet tea, can one really be ranked above another in terms of fun?

The answer is no. While we may select our colleges on a variety of criteria from academics to dining hall food, we can all agree that social life is a big part of that selection as well. So it’s only fair to say that no matter how your school gets down on the weekend, every university has its own definition of doing things up right.

No Standard Criteria

As with any proper ranking or list – or at least any that should be taken seriously – there should be a strict set of criteria, data or some sort of quantifiable reasoning behind the numerical order.

Now what that exact set of criteria is, I don’t know. If you’re reading this, then you should know by now that there’s no distinct way to even decipher what the term “party school” even means as everyone’s definition varies.

You could say it would be more bars per capita, but that would mean the list should be titled, “The college with the most bars per capita,” and most likely would apply to a university in New York or some other giant city.

You could say it should be the best tailgates, the most celebrity sightings, or even the highest probability that everyone got laid, but the truth is there’s no single statistic that encompasses the diverse culture of colleges across America.

Even combining all these different statistics (which are all completely subjective statistics by the way) would result in a hodgepodge of arbitrary rulings that have no basis for a ranking.

In my opinion, a school that ‘parties the hardest’ would probably have statistics like ‘Highest Dropout Rate’ or ‘Most Alcohol Poisoning Cases Per Capita’…but those would be criteria for a list called “Colleges least likely to be Colleges in the near future.”

So no, despite what you may have heard, there is no statistically plausible way to define the top party schools without involving bias, blunders, or bullshit.


I truly believe that this is the worst aspect of party school lists. Having your school on one of these lists will attract swarms of try-hards like douche-flies to party poop (I’m trademarking that).

They’ll come in many forms; the kid who shows up to fraternity rush in the Chubbies-Sperrys combo and only talks about how much ass he got in high school, to the girl who tries to go out every night of the week but never makes it past the pregame, all the way to the pseudo-pothead who gets caught smoking weed in his room every day and still does it, etc.

But these are the people who thrive on these lists. While their peers were trying to plan their future career or get a scholarship, they were scouring the depths of Total Frat Move and BroBible. Because in their minds, that’s all that matters—partying. And when you pick a school simply because it was on a party list instead of any other valuable criteria, you’re probably a miserable human being.

(A specific example: the University of Iowa)

So if being off the list means dodging even just a fraction of these socializing sociopaths, I would say that’s worth it.

All good things must come to an end

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you currently aren’t or have never been a school chancellor. But if you were, you would know that schools hate being on these lists. They want to be known for traditions, academic excellence, or at the very least a respectful student body – not for debauchery and drunkenness. Every time their school pops up onto one of those lists, there’s a subconscious tightening of the belt.

So keep in mind that a consistent reputation of being a party school not only attracts those aforementioned try-hards, but also attracts the eye of the administration. And every infraction, issue, or alcohol-related incident is magnified tenfold when you’ve built a party school reputation, meaning the faculty wants nothing more than to get you removed from the media’s watchful eye.

That means more restrictions, more security, and above all—less partying.

All in all, I believe it’s best to fly just below the radar of these overrated party school lists. College years are some of the greatest 4-6 years of your life no matter where you go, but get out there and experience it yourself – don’t let someone else’s opinion sway yours.

So stop stressing over the stats, lose the lists, and party on, Wayne.

(Cover photo courtesy of Project X’s Twitter)