Wednesday, February 27, 2013

“Party Schools” – Fact or Fiction?

Written by Guest Author Vivian Kerr

Any parent about to send their child off to college worries whether they’ll truly be getting a return on investment. No one wants to fork over $100,000+ on 4 years of undergraduate just so their student can party like a rock star the whole time. But are these so-called “party schools” really deserving of their reputation?

In 2012, the Top 10 party schools are as follows according to Princeton Review:

1. West Virginia University
2. University of Iowa
3. Ohio University
4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
5. University of Georgia
6. University of Florida
7. University of California
8. Florida State University
9. Miami University of Ohio
10. Syracuse University

So where on this list is the notorious Penn State? Proof that schools, unlike leopards, might actually be able to change their spots, Penn State has dropped out of the Top 10 . You may recall Penn State’s wild ways documented on a 2009 episode of This American Life called “#1 Party School.” This year it was re-ranked as #11.

This year Penn State was also ranked as one of the top fifty universities in the world, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities in Shanghai. Its reputation for academics is stellar. Students may like to party there, but it would seem they also like to study. Check out the entire podcast from 2009 from This American Life and judge for yourself!

But what about the new Top Ten? It’s true that these schools have active social organizations, including fraternities and sororities, but keep in mind many of these so-called party school “rankings” are online, vote-based. If enough students decide their school is a big “party school,” it may unjustly get ranked as such. Each of these schools has significant “pros” besides the party school label “con.” Find out more on Princeton Review.

This is all the more reason to take tours of prospective schools with your son or daughter. You’ll want to talk to academic chairs and look at the campus itself, of course, but also consider a drive or walk around on a Friday or Saturday night during the school year. Are there a lot of students out? Drinking in public? But more importantly, does it feel safe? These party schools almost uniformly have local police and campus patrols to keep their undergrads in line. Ultimately, it will be up to your student to strike the balance between work and play.

About the Author:

Vivian Kerr: Vivian Kerr has been teaching and tutoring in the Los Angeles area since 2005. She graduated from the University of Southern California, studied abroad in London, and has worked for several test-prep companies including Grockit & Kaplan for whom she taught ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, and did admissions counseling. 

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