UF’s reputation as a party school may or may not be helping student enrollment numbers.
An 8- to 9-percent drop in out-of-state enrollment rates corresponds to colleges ranked as top party schools, the Huffington Post recently reported.
UF was most recently ranked as 2014’s No. 6 party school by The Princeton Review.
But UF spokesman Steve Orlando said he doesn’t think rankings have any real impact on enrollment rates and that many may not be valid.
Orlando said that the ranking system is not difficult to rig.
“My understanding of the Princeton Review rankings is that they are done by student surveys,” he said. “It’s not very hard to work the system.”
In addition, rankings can be invalid because they are skewed by UF’s old reputation as a party school, as ranked by Playboy magazine in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“I think there is sort of a historic lag,” Orlando said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get rid of a reputation that’s been around like that.”
Josh Kimble, an 18-year-old UF political science freshman, said he was aware of UF’s party school reputation.
But it didn’t influence his college decision.
“I knew it was a pretty big party school,” he said. “But that had nothing to do with my decision to come here.”
Orlando said he doesn’t think the rankings weigh too heavily on parents’ and students’ minds.
He said students who may come to UF for the parties will quickly experience UF’s demanding “academic rigor.”
“Students work hard here,” Orlando said. “If you’re looking for a party school where all you do is have a good time, you should look somewhere else.”
[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 1/24/2014 under the headline "Party school rank may influence who attends UF"]