College may be laden with papers, exams, and long nights in the library, but for many it’s also chock-full of raging parties, intense school spirit, and unforgettable memories with friends.
To determine which schools have nailed the formula for fun, we looked at 12 categories from The Princeton Review’s 2016 college rankings, including lists like “Party Schools” and “Lots of Beer.” Since alcohol isn’t the only way to have fun, we also included schools that placed on lists like “Happiest Students” and “Best Quality of Life.” We then combined these rankings to determine which schools were the most fun overall. You can read the full methodology here.
Based on our results, the typical “fun” school is a large public university with a strong Greek system and competitive athletics. But several smaller schools with close-knit communities earned spots on the list as well.
Read on to see which 30 schools across the US know how to have the most fun.
30. Loyola Marymount University
Loyola Marymount‘s Los Angeles location puts students at the forefront of LA culture – not to mention prime access to the beach. The warm climate makes hiking, tanning, and enjoying the sun possible year-round.
The school also has strong showings in both Greek life and community-service organizations, with students eager to get involved in their community.
29. Gonzaga University
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Amid a rainy climate, Gonzaga students find plenty of ways to have fun both indoors and outdoors. Skiing and snowboarding become popular pastimes during the winter, either nearby at Mount Spokane or farther away in Montana or Canada.
Nothing’s bigger than basketball season, however. Students race across campus and camp out for days to secure tickets, packing the McCarthey Center during every home game.
28. Wabash College
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Sports are a huge part of life at Wabash College – more than half of the student body plays on one of the school’s Division III athletic teams. In return, the all-male campus exudes school spirit for both NCAA and intramural games.
27. Auburn University
The home football games for Auburn are packed with students shouting “War Eagle,” the school’s battle cry. It’s especially loud when the Iron Bowl – the school’s annual matchup against the rival University of Alabama – is played at home in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Before every game, hundreds of students come out to the school’s huge tailgates, which are loaded with games, food, and – of course – beer.
26. University of Florida
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Welcome to Gator Nation. University of Florida students radiate school spirit, and a major chunk of the social scene revolves around sports and tailgates. When students want to party off campus, they head to Midtown, a bar-laden area of Gainesville within walking distance of UF.
Partying isn’t the only way to have fun, though: The school is also home to nearly 1,000 extracurricular clubs and close to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.
25. Florida State University
Though Florida State‘s student body tops out at more than 32,000 students, athletics draw the campus together. And when they’re not cheering the Seminoles on at football games, FSU students can be found at house parties, bars, and clubs on and near campus.
Students also head over to the many nearby rivers, where they can swim, kayak, and enjoy Florida’s balmy weather.
24. Rice University
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Every spring, Rice students from all of the school’s 11 residential colleges come out to support their team during the annual “Beer Bike” competition – a combined intramural bicycle race and drinking competition preceded by a week of parties and events.
Rice’s prime location in the heart of Houston means students can also take advantage of the city’s rich culture through museums, concerts, and a thriving food scene.
23. Providence College
- Providence College/Facebook
Providence, Rhode Island
At Providence College, students get the best of both worlds: The “big school” feel of Division I athletics coupled with the insular atmosphere of a small school in a college town.
Intramural sports are huge at PC, earning the school the top spot on the Princeton Review’s “Everyone Plays Intramural Sports” list.
22. University of Mississippi
Sports are a way of life at Ole Miss – especially during football season. Students spend every fall weekend at The Grove, a 10-acre patch of land in the middle of campus that plays host to some of the biggest and most epic tailgates in college sports.
Students also frequent the square in downtown Oxford, which serves as the city’s main hub of activity and features bookstores, art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.
21. University of Georgia
Tailgates and football dictate how University of Georgia students spend their Saturday afternoons in the fall, but fraternity parties and the bar scene blaze all year round.
More than just a congregation of bars, downtown Athens boasts thriving art and music scenes as well as an abundance of quaint shops for students to explore.
20. Colgate University
Hamilton, New York
At Colgate, students balance their work with a variety of extracurriculars, ranging from student clubs to Greek life to athletics. Whether it’s attending a speaker series or cheering on the Raiders at a football game, students always have something to do.
19. Lehigh University
- Lehigh University/Facebook
Despite its remote location, Lehigh University bustles with activity thanks to students’ “work hard, play hard” mindset. Weekdays spent in the library are balanced by the slew of parties that happen every weekend, often dominated by the Greek scene.
The school also takes part in “The Rivalry” – an annual football game against nearby Lafayette College that is the most played rivalry game in college football, with more than 150 meetings.
18. University of California at Santa Barbara
- UC Santa Barbara/Facebook
Santa Barbara, California
UCSB‘s beachfront location makes it an ideal school for outdoor activities such as surfing, sand volleyball, and hiking. And when the sun goes down, there’s no shortage of nightlife, including drinking on the beach and house parties on ocean-bordering Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista, where students predominate.
17. Whitman College
- Whitman College/Facebook
Walla Walla, Washington
With pickup Frisbee games, hiking trips, and plenty of parties, boredom is seemingly unheard of at Whitman College. The student-programming board sponsors fun events throughout the year as well, running the gamut from comedy shows to movie screenings to laser tag to Casino Night.
16. University of Wisconsin at Madison
- Jeff Miller / UW-Madison
Drinking plays a large role in the weekend activities of many University of Wisconsin students. Beer is ubiquitous on campus, and students especially go hard on big nights like Halloween.
Students also love to cheer on the Badgers’ football and basketball teams, which are routinely ranked among the country’s best. Or when the weather’s nice in Madison – which is surrounded by lakes on either side – students relax at the Memorial Union terrace on the water or explore the city’s eclectic food and arts scene.
15. Gettysburg College
- Gettysburg College/Facebook
Greek life runs rampant at Gettysburg College, with frat-hopping and themed parties as common weekend activities. Greeks and non-Greeks alike also flock to The Attic, an on-campus nightclub.
Besides partying, students enjoy exploring the historical town, catching up over coffee, and attending plays and concerts put on by the school.
14. Vanderbilt University
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Home to the happiest students in the country, according to The Princeton Review, Vanderbilt has a dominant Greek scene and large tailgates for football games.
All students come out for Rites of Spring, a school-wide, multiday concert held toward the end of the spring semester that’s just as much about the day drinking as the music.
13. Southern Methodist University
A large Greek scene sets the tone for social life at SMU, with fraternities often renting out spaces around the city for 18-and-up parties. Though some students report that they wish there was less of an emphasis on Greek life, there’s always plenty to do. Students often head uptown to Dallas to shop, attend concerts, or go dancing.
12. Bucknell University
Greek life dominates at Bucknell, where half of both men and women are affiliated with a sorority or a fraternity. House parties rage three to four times a week, and students of drinking age frequent nearby bars.
On campus, there’s always something going on, and students can attend movie screenings, cake-decorating contests, game nights, and participate in intramural sports ranging from football to sand volleyball to squash.
11. Virginia Tech
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Virginia Tech students love the Hokies. They come out in droves to tailgate on game days, and football season dominates everyone’s social calendar.
Blacksburg’s college-town atmosphere provides plenty of entertainment as well: In addition to several bars and restaurants, students can go bowling, catch a movie, and explore hiking trails close to campus.
10. University of Dayton
The abundance of clubs and organizations at the University of Dayton makes it possible for every student to find a way to get involved and make friends. Most students participate in intramural and club sports, which include everything from indoor soccer to sand volleyball to Ultimate Frisbee.
On the weekends, students frequent Brown Street, a campus-adjacent strip populated by a multitude of restaurants.
9. Claremont McKenna College
At Claremont McKenna, students love the community feel of the small school and can constantly be found outdoors playing Frisbee and basking in California’s sunny climate. The school itself provides ample fun opportunities to students, from bringing in big-name speakers to off-campus trips to school-sponsored parties.
8. Pennsylvania State University
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State College, Pennsylvania
Penn State always packs house parties and has a thriving bar scene during the year, but the school really heats up on game days, when students come out to support their beloved Nittany Lions.
In addition to parties and bars, PSU students also enjoy attending comedy shows, trying new restaurants around campus, and seeing concerts at the Bryce Jordan Center, Penn State’s basketball arena.
7. West Virginia University
- Facebook/West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
Whether students are catching a movie at the student union, cheering for the Mountaineers at a football game, or playing basketball in the rec center, fun permeates the atmosphere at West Virginia University.
Off campus, students flock to High Street in Morgantown’s downtown where there’s an abundance of bars, clubs, and restaurants.
6. Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York
Syracuse students go crazy for the Orange, packing the Carrier Dome – the largest on-campus domed stadium and basketball arena in the US – to the brim for basketball games.
‘Cuse hosts Juice Jam, a one-day music festival, in the fall and Mayfest, a daylong party followed by a concert, in the spring. Its strong Greek life and proximity to several on-campus bars also keep students plenty busy every night of the week.
5. Clemson University
Clemson, South Carolina
There’s nothing quite like a packed game day at Clemson‘s Memorial Stadium. A cannon booms as the players run onto the field past screaming fans shouting along to the Tiger Rag fight song, a ritual referred to as “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.”
Intramural sports are popular at Clemson as well, and students can always find pickup games happening on Bowman Field.
4. Kansas State University
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At Kansas State, a majority of students’ social lives revolve around the school’s Division I sports teams – especially cheering on the Wildcats every Saturday during football season.
Students can also explore Manhattan’s plethora of restaurants and shops. In the evenings, they head to “Aggieville,” an area of town packed with college bars, named as a throwback to KSU’s original mascot.
3. University of Iowa
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Iowa City, Iowa
School spirit is ingrained in the culture at the University of Iowa, and students turn out in droves to support the Hawkeyes. Students looking to get into the action themselves can take advantage of the school’s rec center, which sponsors hiking, kayaking, and rock-climbing trips.
Iowa boasts a lively party scene, earning the school No. 2 rankings on both Princeton Review’s “Party Schools” and “Lots of Hard Liquor” lists.
2. Tulane University
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While many colleges are proud of their signature party, can anything truly compare to Mardi Gras? Living in New Orleans, Tulane students have a front-row seat to all the parties and parades – plus, no open-container laws.
The rest of the year, students can enjoy the rich history and culture of the city with endless opportunities to hear live music and hundreds of restaurants to try.
1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Greek life is huge at University of Illinois, and nearly one-quarter of both men and women join either a fraternity or a sorority. Going Greek isn’t the school’s only social outlet, however. Though they can’t be served until they turn 21, students can enter bars in the surrounding towns as early as age 18.
Champaign also features a thriving music scene, with plenty of opportunities for students to attend various shows and concerts.