Syracuse Tops Princeton Review’s ‘Party School’ List

August 5, 2014

Syracuse University is the nation’s top party school, according to the Princeton Review’s annual college rankings, which were released Monday.

The ranking dismayed Syracuse officials. “Syracuse University has a long-established reputation for academic excellence with programs that are recognized nationally and internationally as the best in their fields,” university officials said in a statement. “We do not aspire to be a party school.”

The Princeton Review surveyed 130,000 students across the country – an average of 343 students per campus – to develop its rankings. The “party school” rankings come from survey questions on alcohol and drug use, the number of hours students spend studying each day and the Greek system’s popularity.

Syracuse has fretted about college rankings in the past. Nancy Cantor, Syracuse’s former chancellor, disdained rankings. She quipped that the U.S. News & World Report rankings “may sell magazines,” but not much else. Syracuse slid down rankings lists under Cantor’s tenure as the university admitted more low-income and at-risk students.

Its current chancellor, Kent Syverud, who took office in January, pledged to pay more attention to rankings. The dubious honor of “top party school” is likely not what he had in mind.

“With new leadership, we are very focused on enhancing the student experience, both academically and socially,” Syracuse officials said in response to the party-school designation. “Students, parents, faculty and the full Syracuse University community should expect to see important and positive changes in the year ahead that will improve and enhance the student environment in every aspect.”

Officials said the rankings came from a “two-year-old survey of a very small portion of our student body” – a claim that misleads slightly.

The Princeton Review conducts formal surveys of colleges once every three years. But the company also offers an online survey, which students can complete any time.

“Surveys we receive from students outside of their schools’ normal survey cycles are always factored into the subsequent year’s ranking calculations, so our pool of student survey data is continuously refreshed,” Princeton Review editors wrote in their 2015 “Best 379 Colleges” guidebook.

Brigham Young University ranked number one among “Stone Cold Sober" universities – a title it has captured for 17 years in a row. To celebrate, the university posted an image on its Facebook page of what may be its preferred celebratory beverage: reduced fat chocolate milk.

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