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Top party schools in America

  • Top party schools in America
    1/ Bestbudbrian // Wikimedia Commons

    Top party schools in America

    It’s often said that college is the best four years of one’s life. It’s a time to learn, to explore, to sign up for an 8 a.m. class thinking, “that’s not too early,” and subsequently miss every last lecture because yes, that is too early. College is the padded barrier between childhood and adult life, full of adventures and ice cream for dinner, but devoid of grown-up problems like mortgages and cholesterol. College gives you a chance to figure out who you ultimately want to be.

    An added bonus to all that meaningful self-discovery? Parties. Most colleges, in addition to anthropology courses and mediocre dining hall grub, offer their own particular brand of social scene. While some studies have found that your typical college freshman is partying less and using social media more, Instagram hasn’t killed off the college party yet: 60% of students in a national survey reported drinking alcohol in the past month and more of them are regular users of marijuana than they were a decade ago.

    Whether students are binge drinking or sipping a glass of water while they spend time with their friends, parties offer the opportunity to socialize and connect with classmates. As a growing number of today’s college students report struggling with depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation, these moments of human connection outside the classroom become even more important. However, not all college parties are created equal. Certain schools really know what they’re doing in the way of parties, and it’s those schools that are honored with a place on this list.

    To create this party school ranking, Stacker used data pulled from Niche. Niche’s party calculations account for access to bars and restaurants, athletics culture, Greek life, and student polling data. Every school on this list received an A+ party grade, so grab a red plastic cup, drink responsibly, and enjoy Stacker’s list of the top 50 party schools in America.

    You may also like: Party schools whose grads go on to earn the most money

  • #50. Loyola University New Orleans
    2/ Paolo Zampella // Wikicommons

    #50. Loyola University New Orleans

    Location: New Orleans, LA

    Acceptance rate: 68%

    Net price: $24,119

    It’s no wonder that a school located in New Orleans would know how to party—the city itself seems to value food, drink, and parades above all else. However, the university is also Jesuit, which may account for its lower ranking on this list.


  • #49. The New School
    3/ Nylandmarks // Wikimedia Commons

    #49. The New School

    Location: New York, NY

    Acceptance rate: 60%

    Net price: $45,504

    The New School’s party scene can mostly be attributed to its location: smack in the middle of New York City. While the university doesn’t have a traditional campus of quads and football fields, it does provide access to all the nightlife NYC has to offer—and the tens of thousands of other college freshman who flock the city each year.

  • #48. Bowling Green State University
    4/ Bhockey10 // Wikimedia Commons

    #48. Bowling Green State University

    Location: Bowling Green, OH

    Acceptance rate: 76%

    Net price: $17,313

    The city of Bowling Green may be small, but it’s also full of bars and college kids, meaning parties are sure to ensue. For BGSU, St. Patrick’s Day is perhaps the biggest party event of the year; when the holiday fell on a Saturday in 2018, students prepared for absolute madness

  • #47. New York University
    5/ NYU-Stern // Wikimedia Commons

    #47. New York University

    Location: New York, NY

    Acceptance rate: 32%

    Net price: $35,147

    Like The New School, NYU’s party scene is based on its location in one of the most exciting and nightlife-heavy cities in the world. Students here have everything at their disposal, from dorm parties to dive bars, clubs to karaoke—plus almost everything’s open until 4 a.m.

  • #46. Rutgers University
    6/ Tomwsulcer // Wikimedia Commons

    #46. Rutgers University

    Location: New Brunswick, NJ

    Acceptance rate: 57%

    Net price: $15,614

    In many ways, Rutgers students have the best of both worlds: access to all the craziness of New York City, and all the benefits of a smaller city with local options. Students here can travel to Manhattan for everything happening there, or hit up bars, comedy shows, and music in New Brunswick.

  • #45. Texas State University
    7/ Billy Hathorn // Wikimedia Commons

    #45. Texas State University

    Location: San Marcos, TX

    Acceptance rate: 71%

    Net price: $12,647

    San Marcos, Texas is a college town through and through, with the university all but dominating the city itself. 60% of Students polled on Niche cite Riverfest, an annual spring concert, as the school’s biggest party of the year.

  • #44. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    8/ Caroline Culler // Wikimedia Commons

    #44. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Location: Chapel Hill, NC

    Acceptance rate: 27%

    Net price: $10,077

    Athletics certainly play a role in social life at UNC Chapel Hill: the school has some of the top teams in the country, particularly in basketball. The university has even launched initiatives to help keep parties going while keeping students safe, such as its “Party, Police Free” program.

  • #43. San Diego State University
    9/ Nehrams2020 // Wikimedia Commons

    #43. San Diego State University

    Location: San Diego, CA

    Acceptance rate: 35%

    Net price: $14,344

    If a school is located just a short drive from the beach, and the average temperature doesn’t go below 65 degrees even in winter, it’s hard not to have a good time there. Varsity sports, and their requisite tailgates, are also a big part of life at San Diego State.

  • #42. Clark Atlanta University
    10/ Thomson200 // Wikimedia Commons

    #42. Clark Atlanta University

    Location: Atlanta, GA

    Acceptance rate: 72%

    Net price: $27,725

    This historically African American university was originally two separate schools—they joined together in the 1930s to form today’s Clark Atlanta University. On Niche, 78% of students name Homecoming as the school’s top social event, in which sports games, concerts, and a Miss Clark Atlanta Coronation and Ball form several days worth of excitement.

  • #41. University of Maryland - College Park
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    #41. University of Maryland - College Park

    Location: College Park, MD

    Acceptance rate: 48%

    Net price: $15,757

    If somehow the name didn’t already give it away, College Park is absolutely a college town. The city is less than six square miles in size, but students find plenty to do—including attending the hugely popular Maryland vs Duke basketball games.

  • #40. Arizona State University
    12/ Kevin Dooley // Wikimedia Commons

    #40. Arizona State University

    Location: Tempe, AZ

    Acceptance rate: 83%

    Net price: $13,007

    This sprawling university is home to over 70,000 students and is one of the largest universities in the country. With this many people, there’s always a lot going on— including major sports events and a seemingly endless stream of pool parties (the average year round temperature is 87 degrees).

  • #39. Lehigh University
    13/ Matt Casey // Wikimedia Commons

    #39. Lehigh University

    Location: Bethlehem, PA

    Acceptance rate: 26%

    Net price: $27,478

    Lehigh was founded in 1865, and since then its students have been working hard and playing harder. Greek life is big (according to Niche, 40% of men and 45% of women on campus take part in fraternities and sororities), and a Niche survey also revealed that 67% of students say there are raging parties every single night of the week.


  • #38. California State University - Chico
    14/ MARELBU // Wikimedia Commons

    #38. California State University - Chico

    Location: Chico, CA

    Acceptance rate: 65%

    Net price: $13,645

    Cal State Chico is located just walking distance from a great variety of restaurants, bars, and clubs in its downtown area, making multiple nightlife options very accessible. What’s more, Sierra Nevada beer has its headquarters in Chico, so you can get the stuff straight from the source.

  • #37. University of California - Santa Barbara
    15/ Alanmak // Wikimedia Commons

    #37. University of California - Santa Barbara

    Location: Santa Barbara, CA

    Acceptance rate: 36%

    Net price: $15,149

    Set before a backdrop of rolling mountains and nestled on two sides by stretches of beach, UC Santa Barbara knows how to have fun and look good while doing it. From major events like Extravaganza and Halloween, to frat parties, to food and drink options downtown, UCSB students are never bored.

  • #36. University of Arkansas
    16/ Brandonrush // Wikimedia Commons

    #36. University of Arkansas

    Location: Fayetteville, AR

    Acceptance rate: 63%

    Net price: $15,411

    Fayetteville is a young, laid back city that’s often ranked amongst the best college towns in the nation, making it a great place for students to live, work, and party. At the university, sports contribute largely to social life—it doesn’t hurt that the Arkansas Razorbacks have won 44 NCAA championships.

  • #35. University of Delaware
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    #35. University of Delaware

    Location: Newark, DE

    Acceptance rate: 70%

    Net price: $15,894

    Newark, Delaware may be small, but its Main Street (right near UD campus) is packed with plenty of options for shopping, dining, and of course, drinking. And there are good times happening on campus, too—72% of UD students interviewed for Niche say that there’s a great social atmosphere in the dorms.

  • #34. University of Southern California
    18/ Ken Lund // Flickr

    #34. University of Southern California

    Location: Los Angeles, CA

    Acceptance rate: 17%

    Net price: $32,932

    Located in Downtown Los Angeles, USC students have access to all the clubs, bars and fun of the city. But for those who wish to stay on campus (or are not yet of age), there are lots of parties and events around both Greek life and USC sports.

  • #33. University of Missouri
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    #33. University of Missouri

    Location: Columbia, MO

    Acceptance rate: 75%

    Net price: $16,317

    Commonly referred to as “Mizzou”, University of Missouri enrolls over 30,000 students. Socially, the school boasts a healthy dose of Greek life and athletic pride (go Truman!).

  • #32. Kansas State University
    20/ Kzollman // Wikimedia Commons

    #32. Kansas State University

    Location: Manhattan, KS

    Acceptance rate: 94%

    Net price: $16,431

    Manhattan, Kansas doesn’t have Broadway or world-renowned pizza, but Kansas State University has a thriving party scene. One of its most exciting events is known as “Fake Patty’s Day”, during which the six square blocks of bars and restaurants in the other Manhattan (known as Aggiesville) dedicate a full day to drinking in early March.

  • #31. College of Charleston
    21/ Thomson200 // Wikimedia Commons

    #31. College of Charleston

    Location: Charleston, SC

    Acceptance rate: 84%

    Net price: $18,877

    There’s tons to do in Charleston, and a lot of it includes food ideal for a late night—who doesn’t love 4 A.M. chicken and waffles? This Southern hot spot is a stellar college town full of nightlife options like bars and live music—and according to Niche, house parties are a constant as well.

  • #30. Vanderbilt University
    22/ Jbaker08 // Wikimedia Commons

    #30. Vanderbilt University

    Location: Nashville, TN

    Acceptance rate: 11%

    Net price: $23,150

    Nashville is not just a college town—it’s a vibrant spot full of food, music, history, and lots and lots of bars. On campus, Vanderbilt students are also very active in Greek life, with 42% of students participating in fraternities and sororities during the 2016–2017 school year.

  • #29. University of South Carolina
    23/ Dfscgt21 // Wikimedia Commons

    #29. University of South Carolina

    Location: Columbia, SC

    Acceptance rate: 68%

    Net price: $19,913

    A school that has a beloved and longstanding food tradition of “Chicken Finger Wednesdays” definitely knows what’s good in life. University of South Carolina also goes far and beyond comfort food—on Niche, the most popular answer for favorite campus events is “tailgating on Saturdays for football games.”

  • #28. University of Pennsylvania
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    #28. University of Pennsylvania

    Location: Philadelphia, PA

    Acceptance rate: 9%

    Net price: $22,944

    With an acceptance rate of only 9%, Ivy League status, and a top ten ranking on Forbes’ list of America’s Top Colleges 2017, one might think Penn keeps students chained to the library. That’s definitely not the case—often referred to as “the social Ivy”, Penn’s Greek-life-heavy social scene is nothing to sneeze at.

  • #27. Syracuse University
    25/ Kai Brinker // Wikimedia Commons

    #27. Syracuse University

    Location: Syracuse, NY

    Acceptance rate: 52%

    Net price: $31,823

    Despite being located in a city that’s often buried in snow, Syracuse University has been consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top party schools. With a passion for basketball, involvement in Greek life, and major events like Juice Jam and Mayfest, Syracuse students know how to have a good time.

  • #26. University of Colorado - Boulder
    26/ MECU // Wikimedia Commons

    #26. University of Colorado - Boulder

    Location: Boulder, CO

    Acceptance rate: 77%

    Net price: $22,727

    As a leader in the decriminalization and recreational use of cannabis, the state of Colorado seems to know a thing or two about kicking back and enjoying life. Consequently, 4/20 is a popular event at the university. Students also enjoy frequenting Boulder bars and cheering on Ralphie the Buffalo at football games.

  • #25. University of Virginia
    27/ Bestbudbrian // Wikimedia Commons

    #25. University of Virginia

    Location: Charlottesville, VA

    Acceptance rate: 30%

    Net price: $15,945

    Of 188 students interviewed on Niche, 78% say that “varsity sports are a huge part of campus life” at University of Virginia. And then are the campus traditions that require a little less clothing: streaking the lawn has been a staple of Virginia life for decades.

  • #24. University of Kansas
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    #24. University of Kansas

    Location: Lawrence, KS

    Acceptance rate: 93%

    Net price: $18,014

    There’s year-round fun to be had at the University of Kansas, but it’s March Madness that really takes things to the next level. Kansas students have some crazy, well-deserved basketball pride, which lays the foundation for the school’s social life.

  • #23. East Carolina University
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    #23. East Carolina University

    Location: Greenville, NC

    Acceptance rate: 70%

    Net price: $12,817

    East Carolina cracked the top 50 in Niche’s 2018 ranking of “Best Greek Life Colleges in America.” and students agree that it’s a big part of life there. They also agree that Halloween is one of the biggest party nights of the year—and there are plenty of on- and off-campus spots to rock your incredibly last-minute costume.

  • #22. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
    30/ Jha4ceb // Wikimedia Commons

    #22. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

    Location: Ann Arbor, MI

    Acceptance rate: 29%

    Net price: $16,107

    The University of Michigan boasts some impressive stats: in 2018, Niche ranked it #3 for “Colleges with the Best Student Life,” #2 for “Best Big Colleges,” and #1 for “Top Public Universities in America” To top it all off, Michigan students also excel at partying—embracing the ultimate “work hard, play hard” mentality.

  • #21. Howard University
    31/ NCinDC // Flickr

    #21. Howard University

    Location: Washington, DC

    Acceptance rate: 30%

    Net price: $22,712

    Greek life certainly plays a role in Howard’s social life, and though not the main focus, varsity sports contribute as well. In fact, the hands-down most exciting event in Howard life is its homecoming.

  • #20. Michigan State University
    32/ Jeffness // Wikimedia Commons

    #20. Michigan State University

    Location: East Lansing, MI

    Acceptance rate: 66%

    Net price: $14,970

    East Lansing has it all: karaoke, quiet pubs, and plenty of places to dance. On campus, there are plenty of weeknight parties, as well as some particularly intense, rivalry-filled football games to attend.

  • #19. University of Miami
    33/ Harrier233 // Wikimedia Commons

    #19. University of Miami

    Location: Coral Gables, FL

    Acceptance rate: 38%

    Net price: $37,424

    Beach access and people who notoriously look great in bathing suits are not a bad combo, and the University of Miami has both. On Niche, 34% of Miami students polled named “tropical paradise” as the phrase to best describe their school, and the beloved varsity sports don’t hurt either.

  • #18. The Ohio State University
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    #18. The Ohio State University

    Location: Columbus, OH

    Acceptance rate: 54%

    Net price: $17,971

    Sports are a major part of life at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes give Ohio students a reason to be proud. And for those heading off campus for a night in Columbus, $1 grilled cheeses are a great way to begin or end the night (or both).

  • #17. University of Florida
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    #17. University of Florida

    Location: Gainesville, FL

    Acceptance rate: 46%

    Net price: $14,761

    There’s plenty going on at the University of Florida, and the nightlife scene is vast enough to provide something to all of the school’s 50,000 students. But only one event can cover it all, and that’s Gator Stompin’, where a ticket buys participants free drinks at dozens of Gainesville bars.

  • #16. Louisiana State University
    36/ Stuart Adams // Wikimedia Commons

    #16. Louisiana State University

    Location: Baton Rouge, LA

    Acceptance rate: 76%

    Net price: $15,095

    55% of LSU students polled on Niche say that “almost everything on campus revolves around sports.” The active nightlife scene in Baton Rouge provides plenty of fun options as well.

  • #15. University of Mississippi
    37/ Ken Lund // Flickr

    #15. University of Mississippi

    Location: University, MS

    Acceptance rate: 78%

    Net price: $14,678

    “Ole Miss” prides itself on taking tailgating to a “higher plane.” Most of the Mississippi tailgating experience is centered around The Grove: normally a 10-acre park in the middle of campus that easily transforms into the pinnacle of a tailgating city.

  • #14. Southern Methodist University
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    #14. Southern Methodist University

    Location: Dallas, TX

    Acceptance rate: 49%

    Net price: $37,499

    In 2012, SMU received the high honor of being named the school with the #1 Nightlife in the Country by Playboy. According to the magazine, Southern Methodist University is “Dallas’s never-ending house party.”

  • #13. University of Wisconsin
    39/ Richard Hurd // Flickr

    #13. University of Wisconsin

    Location: Madison, WI

    Acceptance rate: 53%

    Net price: $15,874

    Of all the things the state of Wisconsin does well, cheese might have to be first and foremost. But a close second is the nightlife and social scene at the University of Wisconsin, which includes going out and about in Madison and cheering on the Badgers.

  • #12. University of Alabama
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    #12. University of Alabama

    Location: Tuscaloosa, AL

    Acceptance rate: 53%

    Net price: $20,133

    If there’s one phrase to sum up everything University of Alabama, it has to be “Roll Tide!” This school knows how to party everywhere—from football games, to local bars, to frat houses, considering that 34% of the student body goes Greek

  • #11. Ohio University
    41/ Ed! // Wikimedia Commons

    #11. Ohio University

    Location: Athens, OH

    Acceptance rate: 75%

    Net price: $21,899

    Not only are people having fun at Ohio University, they’re also very happy—57% of students polled on Niche say that the campus is “beautiful” and their “second home.” The school has also been ranked as Playboy’s #1 Party School in the past.

  • #10. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    42/ Dori // Wikimedia Commons

    #10. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Location: Champaign, IL

    Acceptance rate: 60%

    Net price: $16,683

    In 1995, local Champaign bar owners were met with a problem: St. Patrick’s Day, typically a hugely profitable day for bars, fell during the University of Illinois Spring Break. Thus was born “Unofficial,” a fake St. Patrick’s Day that quickly became the biggest party event of the year for Illinois students.

  • #9. Indiana University - Bloomington
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    #9. Indiana University - Bloomington

    Location: Bloomington, IN

    Acceptance rate: 79%

    Net price: $12,621

    Social life is a big part of the IU experience, and both Greek life and major athletic pride play a role in making Indiana the good time it is. One particularly popular event at Indiana is the Little 500, a bicycle race on campus that also becomes what the town refers to as “The World’s Greatest College Weekend.”

  • #8. Penn State
    44/ Prayitno // Flickr

    #8. Penn State

    Location: University Park, PA

    Acceptance rate: 56%

    Net price: $25,055

    University of Pennsylvania students may be hellbent on reminding people that they are “not Penn State,” but being Penn State doesn’t look so bad. There’s Greek life and strong athletics, and more than half of students surveyed on Niche agree with the statement “I love everything about my school and have a lot of campus pride.”


  • #7. University of Texas - Austin
    45/ Larry D. Moore // Wikimedia Commons

    #7. University of Texas - Austin

    Location: Austin, TX

    Acceptance rate: 40%

    Net price: $16,010

    Austin really does have it all. There’s amazing music and culture, great food and drinks (even after midnight), and a good dose of Southern hospitality. UT Austin follows in the city’s footsteps as a university that knows how to have fun, especially at renowned events like Round Up.

  • #6. West Virginia University
    46/ Aparkswv // Wikimedia Commons

    #6. West Virginia University

    Location: Morgantown, WV

    Acceptance rate: 76%

    Net price: $10,814

    Morgantown may not be a huge city, but West Virginia University is a school with a big personality. The Niche statistics say it all: nearly half of students polled agree there are wild parties every night of the week, and most also agree that football games and Fall Fest are some of the most fun a WVU student can have.

  • #5. Florida State University
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    #5. Florida State University

    Location: Tallahassee, FL

    Acceptance rate: 58%

    Net price: $16,506

    New York City may be the city that never sleeps, but apparently it’s got a rival: FSU’s home, Tallahassee, is the “college town that never sleeps,” and that’s because there’s too much fun to be had while awake. It’s full of great bars, clubs, and restaurants, and the student house parties are a weekend feature as well.

  • #4. University of Iowa
    48/ KMSatoh202 // Wikimedia Commons

    #4. University of Iowa

    Location: Iowa City, IA

    Acceptance rate: 84%

    Net price: $14,161

    Iowa’s party school rep is nothing new, and it’s long been known that Hawkeyes know how to party. There’s a heavy Greek presence and the football stadium is always packed on game nights—not to mention all the wild tailgating before the game even begins.

  • #3. Miami University
    49/ Theodonc // Wikimedia Commons

    #3. Miami University

    Location: Oxford, OH

    Acceptance rate: 65%

    Net price: $20,186

    Lest the name fool you, Miami University is actually located in rural Ohio, north of Cincinnati. But being landlocked has not put a damper on Miami University students—in fact, this top three spot is earned by the variety of bar access, music, sporting events, and house parties available at Miami.

  • #2. University of Georgia
    50/ Pruddle // Wikimedia Commons

    #2. University of Georgia

    Location: Athens, GA

    Acceptance rate: 54%

    Net price: $14,956

    Greek life is huge at the University of Georgia, and a large portion of the social scene and nightlife is centered around this fact. Additionally, Downtown Athens is jam-packed with bars of every variety.

  • #1. Tulane University
    51/ Vegasjon // Wikimedia Commons

    #1. Tulane University

    Location: New Orleans, LA

    Acceptance rate: 26%

    Net price: $32,515

    And the winner is...Tulane University! Located in one of the most infamously wild cities in the country, Tulane gives students access to all the food, music, and bars that New Orleans has to offer. Tulane students really aren’t messing around when it comes to going out — they “party with a purpose.” 

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