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.