Party School Distinction Sobering for Administrators

Aug 17, 2011

While students might take pride in knowing they attend a party school, administrators aren't likely to crack open a bottle of champagne to celebrate being named a top party school by 'The Princeton Review.' The Education Insider takes a look at how schools react to this news and what actions they might take.

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By Jessica Lyons

Time to Party

When The Princeton Review compiles its annual list of best colleges, one of the categories is Top Party Schools (there is also a Top Stone-Cold Sober Schools list). For the recently released 2012 edition, Ohio University in Athens made the top of the party school list.

In order to determine which ones were party schools, the list looked at the answers 122,000 surveyed students gave to questions about alcohol and drug use, daily study time outside of the classroom and how popular their schools' fraternities and sororities are. The Princeton Review explains that characteristics of the party schools were that students did little studying outside of class, alcohol and drugs were highly used and fraternities and sororities were very popular.

Ohio University Responds

Although Ohio University students might have been happy to report their school's partying ways, administrators seemed less enthusiastic. In response to the ranking, Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis sent an e-mail to faculty and staff that said, 'The ranking is not indicative of the overall experience of Ohio students and does not match the data we have collected. We take seriously our responsibility to help our students succeed in all facets of their experience, including addressing high-risk behavior.'

McDavis went on to explain that the university has developed policies and programs to reduce high-risk behaviors among its students. During the last five years, McDavis wrote, the amount of judicial violations related to alcohol have dropped by 49%. Additionally, there has been an 'eight percent decrease in self-reported high-risk drinking by our students,' he said.

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Rankings a Motivation for Some Schools

While schools like Ohio University stress that even before their party school designations they were addressing student drinking, for other schools the news could motivate them to implement needed programs and policies. In an August 1, 2011 article, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the University of Rhode Island took action, in part, due to being named 1993's top party school. Since then, the school has added more repercussions for alcohol policy violations and increased alcohol education, among other initiatives.

An Undesirable Ranking

It's no surprise that schools would rather be known for their academics than the amount of drinking their students do. Colleges and universities want to make sure students are enrolling because they want to pursue a degree and not because they think it will be a way to get to the best parties. By implementing programs to educate students about the dangers related to heavy drinking schools might be able to change the glorified image students have of partying and avoid making the Top Party School list next year.

Find out more about The Princeton Review's college rankings.

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