- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2007

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — To the disappointment of school administrators — and the pride of some students — West Virginia University is No. 1 on the Princeton’s Review’s annual list of the top 20 party schools.

The school has made the list seven times in the past 15 years, despite efforts to curb underage drinking and rowdy behavior.

But not since 1997 have the Mountaineers taken the top spot. Last year, WVU was No. 3, bested by the University of Texas at Austin and Penn State University, both of which remain in the top 10 this year. Locally, Randolph-Macon College and the University of Maryland made the list, at Nos. 11 and 14, respectively.

Senior Katie O’Hara, 22, said WVU is No. 1 because “no matter what kind of party you want, it’s here — bars, fraternities, house parties. … If you want to take shots all night, there’s a bar; no matter what you want to do, it’s there.”

Still, Miss O’Hara said her friends “know how to manage their time. They know when to party and when not to,” which wouldn’t explain the school’s No. 1 ranking in the “Their Students (Almost) Never Study” category.

The rankings are in the 2008 edition of “The Best 366 Colleges,” which is going on sale today and is based on a survey of 120,000 students at those schools, mostly during the 2006-07 school year. No. 2 on the list was the University of Mississippi, followed by UT-Austin, the University of Florida and the University of Georgia.

WVU’s No. 1 ranking is just speculation, said sophomore Stuart Sauer.

“I think there’s no way to measure that,” said Mr. Sauer, 20. “Every school’s a party school.”

Incoming WVU President Mike Garrison played down the rankings, saying the students he met during the weekend and the first day of class yesterday are more concerned with their futures “and with the great year we have ahead” than partying.

The Princeton Review says the guide to the best schools is intended to help applicants who can’t visit every school in person. Guide author Robert Franek said each of the 366 schools “is a ‘best’ when it comes to academics.”

“But as anyone visiting colleges can attest, their campus cultures and offerings differ greatly,” he said. “It’s all about the fit.”

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