Top 10 Party Schools

Do you believe in work hard, play hard? You’ve come to the right place! We found the best schools to flex your beer pong skills, and still get your degree. Examining factors such as Greek life, tailgates, football enthusiasm, access to nearby bars, and  tremendous annual events, these ten schools provide plenty of opportunities to unwind and hang with others. Prepare for four years of awesomeness!

10. University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

University of Iowa
College Gameday at University of Iowa by Phil Roeder

With roughly 50 fraternities and sororities, the 24,000 undergrads boast busy social calendars. Football season gets especially festive. Parking lots become a sea of yellow and black as fans turn out for tailgating at Kinnick Stadium during Hawkeye home games. By popular demand from those who can’t get enough of playing flip cup or eating Chuck Ford’s turkey legs, the university recently added extra tailgating time in university-owned lots following the end of daytime games.

9. University of Mississippi (Oxford, MS)

University of Mississippi
The Grove at University of Mississippi by Ken Lund

Old Miss raises the art of tailgating to a whole new level. The Grove—a 10-acre area in the center of campus lined with elm, magnolia, and oak trees—serves as the picturesque setting for a sea of tents (no cars allowed) under which dressed up fans eat off china and drink bourbon. Equally important to many students is the school’s active Greek system, which more than a third of undergrads choose to join.

8. DePauw University (Greencastle, IN)

DePauw University
The Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity House at DePauw University by Nyttend

While we’re on the topic: Nationally, about 8.7 percent of male undergrads join a fraternity. But at this Midwestern liberal arts college, a whopping 78 percent pledge. Not to be outdone, about two-thirds of women belong to sororities. And who needs a powerhouse football team? The annual game between the DePauw Tigers and Division III counterpart Wabash College for a 300-lb. prize known as the Monon Bell creates a charge in the air both on campus and at the telecast parties alumni gather at throughout the United States.

6.-7. University of Florida (Gainesville, FL) and University of Georgia (Athens, GA) (tie)

University of Florida
Nightlife in Gainesville by Chris Gilmore
University of Georgia
University of Georgia Cheerleaders by Steve Burns

Speaking of football, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more competitive, yet festive, atmosphere than when these two longtime rivals meet on neutral ground in Jacksonville, Fla. Crowds of over 100,000 gather for a pregame tailgate dubbed “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” Back on campus, Greek life plays a major role at both institutions. Midtown, a bar-laden area within walking distance, offers off-campus nightlife at UF. UGA students head to downtown Athens on the weekend, especially for its lively music scene.

5. Ohio University (Athens, OH)


Is there something inherently party-ish about places named “Athens?” Students regularly enjoy the bars on Court Street in this Ohio college town but absolutely flood the area for a block party on Halloween. Spring brings #FEST, billed as “the biggest and best collegiate music festival in the United States.” Think fun, sun, food, drinks (for those of age), and experiencing awesome music (past performers include Wiz Khalifa and Kendrick Lamar) with 15,000 of your new closest friends.

4. Pennsylvania State University (State College, PA)

Penn State
Beaver Stadium by Ben Stanfield

With upwards of 40,000 undergrads, everything on this campus is big— including the fun. Beaver Stadium seats 107,000 boisterous fans. Students craving the best tix (first come, first serve) camp out by the gates days in advance, turning “Nittanyville” into a social hub. When the actual tailgating starts, the campus turns into an endless vision of cars, RVs, and tents as far as the eye can see. “Happy Valley,” as Penn State sometimes gets dubbed, also has a huge Greek system of around 90 fraternities and sororities.

3. Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)


Students at Syracuse don’t let a little 100 inches or so of annual snowfall damper their spirits. About 20 percent get involved with Greek life. The sports scene gets equally robust as fans push the capacity on the Carrier Dome (aka “The Loudhouse”), the largest on-campus domed stadium and basketball arena in the nation. And the end of the schoolyear brings Mayfest. Students enjoy free burgers, beer, and music in Walnut Park throughout the day before heading to Block Party for an awesome evening concert. (50 Cent entertained in 2015.)

2. University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign, IL)

University of Illinois
Unofficial, the pre-Saint Patrick’s Day celebration by William Murphy

Home to the largest Greek system in the world, almost a quarter of the roughly 33,000 undergrads pledge. And when they’re not throwing house parties they’re making their way to the bars. Of course you need to be 21 to drink, but students can enter legally at 19 in Champaign and 18 in Urbana. Perhaps second only to celebrating a Fighting Illini win (this is a Big 10 school, after all) is the excitement surrounding “Unofficial.” This pre-Saint Patrick’s Day celebration started because the actual holiday always falls during Spring Break. It has since grown from a small bar promotion in the 1990s to a regional party drawing thousands.

1. University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI)


Tailgating for Badger games involves plenty of beer and brats (even when kickoff is at 11 a.m.). But don’t worry if the team has an away game. You can still find action at Jordan’s Big 10 Pub or Lucky’s on any weekend. October brings the State Street Halloween Fest (aka “Freakfest”), a costumed gathering that attracts locals and out-of-state partiers alike. The end of the school year means the Mifflin Street Block Party and Revelry. The first features casual, yet crowded, hanging out on porches, lawns, and balconies. The second has developed into a popular music and arts festival. Attend both, if you have the energy.