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Princeton Review ranks UF No. 1 party school

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Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 12:00 am

Gainesville may not have won ESPN's TitleTown USA contest Monday night, but UF students still have something to party about this week.

The Princeton Review named UF the No. 1 party school in the nation Monday.

The infamous ranking, based on 120,000 student surveys from 368 colleges, means UF has high levels of drug and alcohol use, a popular Greek system and students who don't spend much time studying, according to survey results.

This is the first time in the 17-year history of the ranking that UF has earned the top spot. Last year, UF was ranked No. 4. The highest ranking UF achieved before this year was No. 2 in 1999.

UF's two NCAA basketball championships and one national football championship in the past few years likely contributed to this year's No. 1 ranking, said Steve Orlando, UF spokesman.

"If (the ranking) means our students know how to have a good time, we knew that already," Orlando said.

He was quick to point out that UF students may play hard, but they know how to work hard as well. He said UF's incoming freshmen have average SAT scores of 1300 and high school GPAs exceeding 4.0.

Even so, UF students' affinity for drinking was made clear a few years ago when five students died from alcohol-related deaths in less than two years. And soon after his 2003 arrival, UF President Bernie Machen launched a campaign to curb underage and binge drinking.

The campaign included banning liquor ads at campus venues and in UF television productions. Machen also canceled Lex & Terry, a syndicated radio show with a live drinking segment, from WRUF, and he criticized all-you-can-drink specials at bars.

Being a top party school is just one of 62 rankings included in "The Best 368 Colleges," a yearly book aimed at providing information for college-bound students and families. The 2009 edition went on sale today.

Robert Franek, author of the book, said it helps to prompt discussion at colleges unhappy with their rankings.

For example, he said the University of Colorado at Boulder was ranked as the top party school four years ago and implemented policies to reverse that ranking. This year, the university was ranked No. 13 on the list of party schools.

UF had two more No. 1 finishes in the book's other rankings. These were in categories labeled Students Study the Least and Students Pack the Stadiums.

The Students Study the Least category was based on the reported number of hours students study per day outside of class, and the Students Pack the Stadium category was based on responses to questions about the popularity of intercollegiate sports.

UF freshman Chelsea Cohen said it seems like other schools, such as the University of Central Florida and Florida State University, are bigger party schools than UF.

FSU placed 10th in the party rankings. Cohen said the rating surprised her because the police in Gainesville are "so strict."

Dennis Sison, a UF nutritional science junior, said UF's rankings as both the top party school and the school that studies the least actually shows the intelligence of UF students.

"We don't even need to study that much," Sison said. "We know that we'll still get the grade, even with a hangover."

Welcome to the discussion.