Promotional materials for higher learning institutions frequently feature bright-eyed students studying under massive trees, surrounded by books in the library, or slinging a book bag over their shoulder as they head to their next class. They’re filled with examples of the highest achieving students, and boast stats about the school’s various departments and accolades. However, if you’ve ever seen movies set at college, you’ll generally see the same thing – parties, parties, and more parties.
Sure, in real life, most college students’ experience is a combination of academia and cutting loose after a long day of classes. Every student is different, and will likely need different amounts of time and different tools to succeed. However, at the end of the day, there are a few colleges who have the reputation of relishing the moment when they can put away their books for the night and party until the wee hours of the morning.
Several publications rank the top party schools in the U.S., but there’s one in particular whose ranking you might put a little more stock in – Playboy. A magazine with a legacy of debauchery and crazy parties filled with scantily clad women probably knows exactly who is partying the hardest. In reality, the editors at Playboy based the results of their annual top party schools list on stats and facts, such as the access to nightlife and the demonstrated level of creativity when it came to planned social gatherings, as well as a reader’s poll.
So, without further ado, here are 10 college campuses in the U.S. where you’ll probably find a pretty good party, no matter when you go.
10 University of Michigan
There’s a phrase used by UMichigan students – “the Michigan difference” – which basically means that they can certainly study hard, but that they’ll party even harder once they’re done. The town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, may only have a population of slightly over 100,000, but you definitely shouldn’t discount it as a sleepy college town. Michigan Wolverines bounce from bars to house parties, taking red solo cups and kegs along with them for the ride. Plus, with the rabidness of Wolverines fandom, you know that tailgating is a seriously big deal. Grab a brew (or five) and brace yourself if you ever travel through the UMichigan campus.
9 University of Mississippi
What’s the University of Mississippi? Well, you may know it better by its colloquial name, Ole Miss. Ole Miss is notorious for its athletic dominance, and has produced some of the greatest athletes in professional sports. When you combine that level of athletic fandom with the good old Southern hospitality you’d expect of Mississippi, you have a recipe for a party that lasts basically the entire academic year. For goodness sake, recently a drone captured a huge fraternity bash, leading to the coining of the phrase “frat cam.” You know you’re having some serious parties when you’re adding entirely new terms to the nation’s party lexicon.
8 University of Wisconsin
In the frosty climate of Madison, Wisconsin, you might assume that the students are bundled up in layers upon layers of clothing and sequestered in warm libraries and coffee shops, right? Wrong. The city is particularly known for its Mifflin Street Block Party, and though the huge bash lost its sponsorship in 2013, University of Wisconsin students made sure to pick up the slack and keep the party alive year after year. Plus, football is a pretty big deal, so they too have legendary beer-filled tailgates before Badgers games. I mean, it’s the school that produced JJ Watt. You know everyone is turning up to the games and waiting to see the next athletic superstar in the making.
7 Syracuse University
You might think that New York City college students are the ones having the real parties, but surprisingly, a school in upstate New York is where all the real campus parties are. Syracuse has frequently appeared on top party school lists, to the point where university officials have banned certain partying behaviors – namely, hanging out and having a good time at Castle Court, a former popular parking-lot party hot spot. However, Syracuse students have no shortage of activities to attend and bars to hang out in – Mayfest, Juice Jam, Faegan’s Pub, the Phi Psi “Heaven and Hell” party… it’s a wonder they find time for class!
6 University of Texas
You know what they say – everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes the parties. Sure, everyone knows about the legendary parties that descend upon Austin during the famed SXSW festival. However, let’s be honest – most college students likely can’t afford entrance into the big ticket parties and events, and things just get far too packed. On any other week of the year, you’ll find students swarming Sixth Street and Rainey Street to get their party on. Plus, Texas laws state that individuals can legally go topless in public, so you know once the tequila shots start flowing some UTexas girls are ready to get the party started.
5 University of Illinois
Chicago is one of the stops for nearly every band who tours the US, which means that students at the University of Illinois get the chance to check out countless concerts and festivals. Greek life is also a really big deal at U of Illinois, and we don’t have to tell you that fraternities and sororities know how to have a good time. The piece de resistance for Illinois students? Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day, which is basically an event where students stay out of the classroom and keep a drink in their hand from when they first wake up to when they later (probably) pass out from overindulging. No one parties like Illinois.
4 Tulane University
If there was a city in the US you could characterize as a party city, let’s be serious – it would definitely be New Orleans. I mean, they’re the home of Mardi Gras, arguably the most insane, debauchery filled party that there is. Any school located within the New Orleans city limits will probably crack the top party schools list on sheer proximity to nightlife alone. However, while things are taken to the next level during Mardi Gras, it’s pretty much an all-year party for Tulane students. Great music, amazing bars, and an open-container policy that allows you to sip your potent drink while wandering through the crowds of interesting people? Definite party central.
3 Florida State University
A surprising amount of schools that made the top party schools list are located in chilly climates, where parties might be affected by snowstorms and sub-arctic temperatures. That’s definitely not the case for Florida State, where students can pretty much go from classroom attire to bikinis at a moment’s notice. They’re also known for their spring break shenanigans, where students from across the country come down to party with the Seminoles. However, if you want to know how easy it is to party in FSU, get this – a beloved local watering hole by the name of Bullwinkle’s Saloon offers a Thirsty Moose Card, which is basically a golden ticket that students can buy to earn the right to bottomless drinks for four nights out of every week. Why does every bar in a college town not have that?
2 University of Iowa
University of Iowa students can throw a house party with the best of them, but one of their main claims to the party throne comes thanks to a loop hole that a clever Iowa City bar found. Until 10.00 pm, the bars let in anyone over the age of 19. After 10.00, they have to head back to their dorms – unless, of course, the bar deems itself an “entertainment venue,” which the Union Bar did. By making a simple category change, Iowa students can party all the way until closing time. While countless bars likely see their fair share of action, the Union is apparently the place to be if you’re ready for a serious party.
1 Ohio University
Ohio? What kind of parties could students at Ohio University be throwing? Well, you’d be surprised. On campus, the school is known for crazy Halloween block parties that have even attracted sponsors. They have a legendary music festival, called simply #Fest, where they can groove to hits from Diplo, Kendrick Lamar and more. And finally, Court Street – this small, half-mile stretch of road connects the Ohio University campus to Athens’ dining district, but more importantly, it’s home to a staggering 18 bars. Students can take their pick, hopping from bar to bar before finally staggering back to campus. Party on, Ohio. Party on.