One of the nation’s best-known college rankings has once again crowned UW-Madison the top party school in the country, a distinction sure to draw groans from campus administrators nearly as loud as the cheers from many students.
The Princeton Review’s annual rankings, released Monday, placed the university No. 1 in its categories for “party schools” and institutions with “lots of beer.” UW-Madison also took the No. 5 spot in the “lots of hard alcohol” category.
The university is a fixture of the top party schools list, and last claimed the No. 1 ranking in 2005; West Virginia University and the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign rounded out the top three.
It’s a dubious honor in the eyes of administrators at UW and other universities that have received the ranking.
As officials pointed out when UW topped the party schools category a decade ago, the Princeton Review bases its rankings on unscientific surveys of students, who are asked to assess aspects of academic and social life at their institutions.
According to a webpage detailing the methodology for the rankings, “Schools on the ‘Party Schools’ list are those at which surveyed students’ answers indicated a combination of low personal daily study hours (outside of class), high usages of alcohol and drugs on campus and high popularity on campus for frats/sororities.”
UW also had the country’s top-rated student health services, and students rated their campus highly for friendliness toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students (No. 4) and the quality of its campus newspapers (No. 10) and libraries (No. 13), and students’ satisfaction with the university — it was No. 12 in the “students love these colleges” category.
In response to questions about the top party school ranking, UW officials sent a statement, reading in part, “Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have an incredible sense of pride in this institution and great camaraderie with their fellow Badgers that contributes to making our university an enjoyable place to attend school.”
“However, as at many institutions of higher education, high-risk alcohol use on campus remains a pressing public health concern that negatively impacts campus safety and (students’) academic progress and well-being,” the statement said. UW declined a request to interview campus officials about the ranking.
Just before the Princeton Review survey results were announced, university officials sent out a press release touting a ranking they were more proud of: A college guide from Washington Monthly put UW at No. 28 on its list of the country’s best colleges and universities.