Ohio University has moved from number two to number one in The Princeton Review's most talked-about annual ranking -- it was named the top party school in the publisher's annual college guide, The Best 376 Colleges, which was released Monday.
The guide includes individual profiles of each college, along with rankings based on an online survey of more than 122,000 students nationwide. Ohio University, last year's number-two party school, displaced the University of Georgia for the top spot. Students at OU reported high rates of beer-drinking (it was number one in this category), liquor consumption (number two), and participation in fraternities and sororities (number 11). It also earned a number-12 ranking in the "students study the least," category, although it did not make the top 20 in the marijuana-use category, (topped by Colorado College), one of the criteria used in the party school rankings.
The top five was rounded out by other familiar institutions -- the University of Mississippi, the University of Iowa, and the University of California - Santa Barbara.
OU officials released a statement saying they were "disappointed" in the ranking and felt it did not reflect the experience of most students. To back up this claim, the statement cited the university's biennial alcohol and drug use survey, which was released in June and showed a two-percent decrease in "high-risk" or "binge" drinking since 2009, and an eight-percent decrease since 2007.
Of the 1,101 respondents, all undergraduate students, about 70 percent reported consuming five or more drinks on one occasion within the past two weeks in this year's survey, compared to about 73 percent in 2009 and 78 percent in 2011. Vice president of student affairs Kent Smith attributed the decline to the university efforts to curb drinking, including a mandatory online alcohol education course and a public relations campaign called "Stop at the Buzz." Drinking at OU is still a problem, he said, but the university is "moving in the right direction."
The Princeton Review's annual survey features more than 80 questions about academics, financial aid, facilities, and extracurricular activities, most of which include five possible responses, (for instance, responses to some questions include a range from "Awful" to "Excellent"). The Princeton Review uses the data to assign each college a score in each category. Other categories include "Professors Get High Marks" (Wellesley College topped the list this year), "Great Financial Aid," (Swarthmore came in at number one), and the new "Best Health Services" category (which was topped by the University of California - Los Angeles).
But its party school list typically generates the most buzz, and this year's edition of The Best 376 Colleges came with a disclaimer about the list, saying it does not necessarily reflect the overall quality of the institutions.
"We recommend all 376 schools in this book as outstanding institutions at which to earn one's college degree," wrote co-authors Robert Franek, Laura Braswell, and Seamus Mullarkey.
"But just as the schools on our 'LGBT-Unfriendly' list may not be ideal campuses for gay students, the schools on our 'Party Schools' list may not be ideal for students seeking a campus at which the use of alcohol and drugs and the frrat/sorority scene is, well, less exuberant."
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