For many college students, going to a top-rated party school is an honor and a bragging right. Princeton Review, the granddaddy of all rankings, announced today that the University of Georgia is this year’s top party school in the country. Damage control began right away for UGA officials, reminding the country that there is no actual scientific truth behind these rankings and that UGA is a university that strictly enforces the importance of a solid education.
As a Nittany Lion (and 2009/2010 #1 party school attendee) , I honestly couldn’t be happier. Penn State spent all of last year under strict scrutiny because of our Number 1 party school status. I’m sure there are plenty of PSU students talking about how as the new #3 school, we have “work to do,” but maybe they should remember the tragic incident that kicked off the 2009-2010 school year. The “pressure to live up” to these rankings caused one student his life. Sure, every freshman has those nights where they get a little too drunk, and as college students, we idealize these hysterical stories that we tell over Sunday brunch in the dining commons. But these rankings take those crazy nights to a whole new level and don’t only affect a person’s time spent in school, but much, much more.
When I chose to attend Penn State, I made the decision based on our incredible alumni association and the overall environment of Happy Valley. I wanted to be able to walk into a job interview and be proud. Penn State proud. I didn’t want the person sitting on the other side of the desk question whether or not I was capable of handling responsibilities because I went to a school known for beer bongs and keg stands. The authenticity of my GPA shouldn’t be under dispute. I worked my behind off during the week and I enjoy myself on weekends, like any other college student.
What frustrates me the most about the whole party school ranking is that it overshadows the other amazing things Penn State students are doing with their free time. We have one of the most active Greek systems nationwide. We raised $7.8 million dollars last year in our annual 46-hour dance marathon, the largest student-run philanthropy in the WORLD. Where is all the press for that?
I’m not saying Penn State doesn’t deserve these rankings. After all, we make up our own freaking holidays. I am up and ready to tailgate on a fall Saturday at 10 AM, even if kick-off is past sundown. And I’ve never been one to turn down a theme party. But there is a serious underage binge drinking problem at our university that has cost Penn State and downtown State College not only hundreds of thousands of dollars, but student lives.
Rankings from Princeton Review, College Humor, and Playboy make these problems seem like jokes to brag about when they are anything but. Partying is a huge part of the college lifestyle but do we really need an award for it?