Party or Sober: How Does Your School Rank?

Party or Sober: How Does Your School Rank?
  • Opening Intro -

    The reputations of many colleges and universities are often well-known before first-year students set foot on campus.

    Some schools are rigidly structured while others take a laissez-faire approach to academics.


What is foremost on the minds of many students and their parents is the reputation schools have beyond academics. No, not just the school’s athletic prowess, instead its reputation for allowing drinking or not.

As most everybody knows, the national drinking age is 21. That age is widely ignored on some college campuses, not something that we endorse, but acknowledge is a fact. The Princeton Review, not related to Princeton University, regularly releases its annual survey of the best colleges and includes a number of lists such as one that gauges the drinking habits of college students.

That survey yields two lists: the “Top 20 Party Schools” and the “Top 20 Sober Schools.” Making either list generates a lot of conversation among students as well as around watercoolers within the administrative offices of colleges and universities nationwide.

Syracuse University and Brigham Young University

Heading the list of the top party school in the country is Syracuse University in New York. On top of the stone-cold sober schools was Brigham Young University in Utah. While the top party schools tend to vary from year to year, BYU routinely tops the stone cold sober list. Being that BYU is a Mormon school and Mormons do not drink alcohol, its place at the top of the Princeton Review list seems assured for many years to come.

Without exception, the entire list of top 20 party schools is composed solely of public and private universities. Not one religious institution is featured — that does not mean drinking does not occur on those campuses — instead, not to the degree found on campuses such as at the University of Iowa, the University of California Santa Barbara, West Virginia University or at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. These four universities followed Syracuse on the party school list.

A good number of the top 20 sober schools are religious institutions with several military academies included. Following BYU, we had Wheaton College in Illinois, the US Military Academy in New York, Calvin College in Michigan and Thomas Aquinas College in California. Three of the public universities that made the list represent campuses of the City University of New York (CUNY). Those campuses are located in Brooklyn, Manhattan and in Queens.

Lest you think that the Princeton Review is obsessed with alcohol consumption or the lack thereof, there are 60 other lists you can review.

Most Beautiful Campus

For instance, Colgate University in New York came in first for having the most beautiful campus, while Virginia Tech has the best campus food. To check out the best college dorms you would need to head to Washington University in St. Louis.

If you’re looking for the happiest students, than none other than Vanderbilt University in Tennessee is the place to visit. And if you think that you like your college you should know that Claremont McKenna College in California finished on top of the list for students that love their college.

Princeton Review Best Colleges Survey

Princeton Review has been publishing its best colleges list since 1992. The rankings are based on surveys of 130,000 college students, averaging 343 per campus. It was an online survey that asked students 80 questions about their school’s academics, administration, student body as well as themselves. From there, the Princeton Review used a Likert scale to extrapolate the data.

See AlsoThe Talk: College Student Drinking


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Categories: Campus News