University of Wisconsin-Madison is top party school in U.S.

Pedestrians walk across Bascom Hill at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Oct. 27, 2014. UW-Madison has once again earned the top party school ranking in the country.
Jeff Miller | UW-Madison 2014

University of Wisconsin-Madison leaders are chafing under a state-imposed tuition freeze and the football team didn't crack the Top 25 preseason rankings. But no school in the country throws a better party, according to the Princeton Review's 2017 edition of "The Best 381 Colleges."

Here's a look at how it decides who's No. 1, as well as other notable "best of" rankings, such as best financial aid and most beautiful campus:

What's the Princeton Review and how did it put together these rankings?

The Princeton Review is a New York-based tutoring, test prep and college admission services company that publishes a book every year ranking colleges in 62 categories. This year's edition is based on an online survey of 143,000 students at colleges selected by an editorial board.

How did UW-Madison earn the top party school ranking?

The survey asked students about alcohol and drug use on campus, the popularity of Greek life and the number of hours they study each day outside of class.

UW-Madison is famous for its parties, especially Halloween and an end-of-year block party. Every home football game is preceded by hours of off-site drinking.

It was last named No. 1 party school in the 2005 survey. Princeton Review senior vice president and publisher Rob Franek noted that the school has ranked among the Top 20 party schools in 22 surveys over the last 25 years.

"You won't find a more friendly place to be as attendees share brats, offer up beers, and join in singing some of our most memorable chants — all before the game even begins," one unnamed student said in the survey.

UW officials greeted the news coolly, issuing a statement that called heavy alcohol use on campus a "pressing public health concern" that hurts academic achievement and makes schools less safe. They said incoming students go through mandatory programs to be educated on alcohol use, and that many students drink moderately or not at all.

What other schools get their party on?

West Virginia University in Morgantown came in second, followed by the University of Illinois' flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign, which was ranked No. 1 last year. Two Pennsylvania schools — Lehigh University and Bucknell University — filled out the top five schools.

Did UW-Madison earn any other top rankings?

Yes, "Best Health Services" and "Lots of Beer." It was also fourth in friendliness toward transgender, gay and bisexual people.

Who won other categories?

For students who don't care to drink, Brigham Young University is the place to be. The private school that's affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took top honors in the "Stone-Cold Sober Schools" category for the 19th straight year.

Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has the best financial aid. The University of Massachusetts-Amherst has the best campus food, Washington University in St. Louis the best dorms and Penn State University the best athletic facilities.

If you're looking for a picturesque campus, head to Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., which was named most beautiful. If you want the best teachers, you'll find them at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

West Point is tops in the "Students Study the Most" and "Most Accessible Professors" category.

Volume Button
Now Listening To Livestream
MPR News logo
On Air
MPR News