From some discussion here, I surprisingly found (by googling) that there are some ranking for top universities for partying. From USA Today and Time to Playboy, they list top universities for party and nightlife.

I understand that there are not quantitative factors to make such rankings, but are they genuine rankings or just practical jokes?

It is a fact that some students go to university to have fun, and care about such activities in their future university. Thus, such rankings can attract some students, which is still good for a university.

My question is: Do university take such ranking seriously? I mean, are top party universities proud of this feature and advertise to attract interested students?

Universities are proud of their athletic teams, and use their achievements for advertisement, but what about partying? (I ask because this is the first time I heard about naming top universities for party).

NOTE: I do NOT exclusively mean partying. I general mean any ranking considering extra-curricula activities, any ranking based on factors other than education and research.

  • 1
    "... attract students, which is still good for a university" --- I really hope that 'good' is not defined via 'revenue' here, and the intended meaning is more along the lines of "... by luring the heavy-partying students to an educational establishment, they are given an opportunity to turn to scholarship and learning, which otherwise they would deny to themselves." Right?
    – Boris Bukh
    Oct 10, 2015 at 17:04
  • What if my idea of a fun social activity is to go rock climbing, or play chess? I think these rankings are probably not so much about partying per se, which is impossible to define or rank, as about Greek life, alcohol, and football.
    – user1482
    Oct 10, 2015 at 20:37

2 Answers 2


Universities aren't pleased about ranking highly in such competitions they didn't ask to participate in. That is at least their official position. As it might help with recruiting, some people dealing with attracting students might quietly approve; but in the same way it attracts certain people, others will be repelled. The university in the above link has a great academic reputation as well, and would probably do just fine if it didn't have this other one.

Other than "being known as a 'party school' ", or appearing in 'rankings' such as Playboy's, I don't think there is any publication that evaluates extra-curricular activities. However, schools greatly value to be seen as a good place that people like to spend their formative years at. When I was accepted for graduate school at NYU, I got hardly any information on their academic side, but a beautiful hardcover picture book on Greenwich Village. Places that don't have natural advantages still care about presenting the school and its surroundings as desirable living locations. The tongue-in-cheek "Where the hell is Grinnell?" slogan comes to mind (it's in the middle of nowhere, but both the town and school are rather beautiful). In addition to mere location, social activities on campus are certainly highlighted in information about the school, and when visiting on site.


They are neither genuine nor practical jokes. They are, however, entirely made up rankings designed to sell magazines and newspapers. I doubt that universities take them seriously other than to be concerned that some students may partly choose to enroll based on them in order to take advantage of the supposed party atmosphere. No university I know of advertises its party-schoolness directly, whereas many advertise the corresponding academic rankings they receive from these publications.

Having the reputation for having a great social atmosphere might help a university increase its enrollment, but no serious university is going to try to game the metric that these publications use (if there really is one) to generate these party rankings. They do, often, try to game the academic ranking systems by manipulating the data they submit. Lots of applicants care about these academic ranking measures, and so universities either need to take them seriously or refuse to participate.

  • 4
    Do you have any evidence that they are "entirely made up". I would have thought there would be at least some interviews or surveys with current and/or former students or a count of the number of local bars or faternities and sorieities or something.
    – StrongBad
    Oct 10, 2015 at 21:37
  • @StrongBad, was basically just my assumption. this one appears to have a methodology of sorts. Heavily weighted towards student survey data with the rest being bar proximity based on US Census data.
    – Bill Barth
    Oct 11, 2015 at 3:09

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