When does a party become a riot? At most schools on our list it’s shortly after the time the cops show up with tear gas. The difference at West Virginia University is that it’s Tuesday, not Friday, and something is probably on fire. At yearly gatherings such as FallFest and St. Patrick’s Day, thousands of strapping Mountaineers take to the streets to major in booze-fueled debauchery and minor in public disturbance. Intoxicated revelers run wild, clothes come off and, sometimes, couches burn. (Case in point: Anarchy broke out after WVU beat Texas last fall; more than 40 fires were reported.) In an effort to keep campus uprisings to a minimum—an arguably futile endeavor—fraternities are now assigned specific nights to hold court. The locals call Morgantown a drinking town with a football problem. We call it a seven-year plan with the possibility of parole.
Badgerland defines the “Work hard, play hard” maxim. Halloween celebrations last three days, but the library is always open. That philosophy must be working: Madison has spit out as many Fortune 500 CEOs as the Ivies. Tailgating is a winter religion here, but come snowmelt, blizzards are a distant memory as coeds soak up the sun on Bascom Hill and the State Street bar scene turns into a springtime bacchanalia. This is the land of beer and cheese, after all, and these scholars know what they’re doing.
From the house parties on the Hill to the breweries of downtown Boulder, CU easily takes this year’s bronze medal. Boulder’s real claim to fame, the annual April 20 marijuana smoke-out, has been snuffed by campus authorities, but don’t let that kill your buzz. The Rocky Mountains are within shooting distance, and Buffs regularly ditch books for snowboards. It doesn’t hurt that the girls are as beautiful as the surrounding wilderness. Roll one and relax.
Being minutes from Hollywood has its perks. USC students attend an elite college in a dicey neighborhood, but the women look like models and L.A. luxuries abound, making this campus world-class. Thursday is the best night to let loose because Fratty Friday is an all-out, all-day affair. On weekends kids pile into party buses and head for the nation’s hottest clubs or hop into a convertible for a wild evening in the Hollywood Hills. Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have donated millions to raise the next generation of entertainment talent, so count on having future stars and producers among your classmates. Better tighten up your elevator pitch, son.
Ahh, the joys of college in a tropical climate. Let us count the ways: bikinis, beaches and students as hot as the weather. Tallahassee has one of the largest fraternity systems in the country, and with Alabama and Georgia within driving distance, mingling with other Southern belles is an option. What’s more, Florida State isn’t nearly as academically rigorous as the University of Florida. Translation: More time to day drink.
Longhorns can choose to carouse in the packed bars of historic Sixth Street or plunge into the disaster area of West Campus, where fraternities and sororities stand alongside student housing thanks to a beautifully reckless zoning decision. Plus, Austin’s eccentricities keep things interesting. There’s more progressive culture and wondrous barbecue than you can shake a rib at. For a springtime taste of UT at its most unhinged, visit during Roundup, the largest Greek event of the year. It’s pandemonium mixed with Texas pride. Beware and be prepared—things really are bigger and better in the Lone Star State.
Baton Rouge isn’t New Orleans, but consider that a plus. On a typical night here you can choose among Tigerland bars, downtown’s classier offerings and a plethora of house parties. Sure, French Quarter chaos is only 90 minutes away, but Bourbon Street doesn’t have Tiger football. Need more reasons? Fat Tuesday comes only once a year, but you’ll enjoy many weekends of lawless tailgating at LSU.
Georgia offers robust tailgating, a crowded bar scene, first-rate live music and a campus that’s 60 percent female. As the Athens locals say, if you love Southern women (and we’ll throw in the food and football to boot), raise your glasses. To the rest, raise your standards.
On any given day of the week you’ll find a rager at Arizona State that’s crazy enough to make the locals look sane (and that’s saying a lot). With an overabundance of McMansions and more pools per capita than anywhere else in the nation, Phoenix serves as the perfect location for wet-and-wild bashes and a steady stream of theme parties. Why study in the library when you can study jaw-dropping coeds as they work on their Cabo-caliber tans? Tan, sleep, eat, drink and (maybe) go to class—just another day in the life of a Sun Devil.
College Park offers the pleasures of an East Coast university without the pretension. And that’s more refreshing than a cold Natty Boh. Campus life strikes a balance between small-school community and state-school rampage, and D.C. and Baltimore are a quick train ride away. Getting sloshed at the Washington Monument counts as patriotism, right?