What are the best party schools in the U.S.? We did the research for you! You probably didn’t get to party much during your senior year in 2020. So, if you’re considering any of these ten schools – you’ll definitely make up for the lost time.
We looked at lots of different factors to rank these schools “party” factor,
- Greek life, tailgates,
- Football enthusiasm,
- Access to nearby bars,
- Annual events
The following 10 schools ranked high in all categories and will make the perfect choice for you to have the best partying experience in college. Prepare for four years of awesomeness!
10. University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)
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 even has extra tailgating time.
9. University of Mississippi (Oxford, MS)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
If you’re looking for other schools that offer more than just academic life, check out the Find Your Perfect “U” tool. You can search over 6,000 colleges and universities with 11 different filters to find the perfect school for you!
Beth Braccio Hering is an honors graduate of Northwestern University and has been a freelance writer for more than 25 years. In addition to extensive contributions to various Encyclopaedia Britannica products, her work has been published by outlets such as Business Management Daily, CareerBuilder, Walt Disney Internet Group, and Chicken Soup for the Soul.