Best Party Schools with High Academic Rankings

Many schools that rank high as party schools also have great academic reputations

By Erin Palmer
Posted September 12, 2013 09:00 AM

Top 5 Party Schools on U.S. News College Rankings for 2014
Top 5 Party Schools on U.S. News College Rankings for 2014

Two simple words can make college administrators sigh, parents cringe and students high-five:

Party school.

Though the phrase may bring to mind keg stands and red Solo cups full of cheap beer, so-called “party schools” often get a bad rap. Many of these universities also have stellar academic offerings, ground-breaking research and talented professors.

Students may want to attend a fun school, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want a high-quality education as well. Finding a school that balances work and play allows students to have the best of both worlds.

Using data from the 2014 Princeton Review rankings of top party schools and the 2014 Best Colleges rankings from U.S. News & World Report, here are five schools where students can have fun while getting an excellent education.

Pennsylvania State University

It’s no wonder that the Pennsylvania State University campus is nicknamed “Happy Valley.” Not only did Penn State rank ninth on the list of top party schools, but the university is also home to the largest student-run philanthropy program in the world.

Academic achievement at Penn State gives students another reason to smile. The university was awarded the No. 8 spot on the 2014 top public school rankings from U.S. News& World Report. High graduation rates and faculty research were among the rankings factors for this list. With over $2 million in research conducted every day, Penn State boasts many academic accolades.

University of California-Santa Barbara

With a gorgeous beachside campus, it’s easy to see why students at University of California-Santa Barbara are known for having a good time. UCSB ranked No. 2 on Princeton Review’s party school list and fifth in the category for happiest students.

Students at UCSB have a lot to be happy about, as their university tied for No. 11 on the 2014 top public school rankings from U.S. News & World Report. UCSB provides a well-rounded education with a 91% freshmen retention rate and curriculum that includes creative pursuits and scholarly research.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Students at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign may attend the third biggest party school in the country according to the Princeton Review, but they are also part of a storied academic tradition, including Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning alumni.

Other world-renowned scholars are members of the faculty at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The talent of the professors is among the reasons that Urbana-Champaign is No. 11 on U.S. News & World Report’s top public school rankings.

University of Florida

Enthusiastic tailgating at “The Swamp” (Ben Hill Griffin Stadium) may have contributed to the University of Florida’s sixth place spot on the top party school list. Athletic success and good times aren’t the only reasons why UF is full of school spirit.

Strong freshmen retention and graduation rates are some of the contributing factors to UF’s high rankings on the 2014 Best Colleges from U.S. News & World Report, including being named No. 14 on the top public school list.

University of Wisconsin -Madison

A dynamic Greek community may be one of the reasons University of Wisconsin -Madison was named the eighth biggest party school in the country. Students at UW –Madison may like to have fun, but they also give a lot back to the community. The school values public service, adhering to the “Wisconsin Idea” that a university should  have a positive impact outside of the classroom.

Academic achievement is another part of the UW –Madison experience. The university earned No. 11 spot on the top public school rankings from U.S. News & World Report due to factors like research and retention rates.

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