The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that about 57% of college students aged 18 to 22 currently consume alcohol, with 38% of them admitting to binge drinking, defined as five drinks or more in one sitting for men and four or more for women. Teen drinking can be problematic for college students who are under the legal drinking age of 21 and at the top 10 party schools, the consequences of underage alcohol consumption can be severe.
The following schools have become notorious for substance abuse among college students. Here is our top 10 list of the least sober colleges in the U.S.
Located in New Orleans, Tulane University enrolls approximately 14,000 students and it is known for binge drinking and college sexual assault. In fact, The Princeton Review ranks Tulane as the number 3 party school in the nation.
Binge drinking in college is believed to contribute significantly to the sexual assault rates at Tulane. New reports indicate that 41% of female students and 18% of males attending Tulane as undergraduates have been victims of sexual assault. The majority of those victims reported being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the assault.
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia, located in Athens, has a total enrollment of 37,606 students and is known for underage drinking. One recent survey that analyzed college nightlife, athletics and access to bars and parties determined that this university was the number two party school in the country.
Athens has long been recognized as a high-ranking college football town. Students may engage in binge drinking at a University of Georgia tailgate party, as the survey also showed that athletics are an integral part of university life. While underage drinking may occur at tailgates prior to football games, students may also celebrate athletic victories at one of Athens’ nearly 100 local bars.
West Virginia University
West Virginia University, located in Morgantown, is home to 21,155 students and it ranks as the second top party school in the United States, according to The Princeton Review. There is a West Virginia University alcohol policy in place to protect students that prohibits alcohol in the university residence halls, even among students who are of legal drinking age. The policy also states that students can be removed from residence halls for substance-related violations, such as underage alcohol consumption or public intoxication, even if drugs and alcohol are not consumed in residence halls. Students can also be referred for treatment if necessary.
Students may also be impacted by the West Virginia opioid epidemic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of opioid overdose deaths in West Virginia rose from 122 in 2014 to 618 in 2017, mostly a result of overdoses that involved fentanyl. Due to the availability of these drugs, students at a West Virginia University party may have the opportunity to experiment with opioids and the outcome can be devastating.
University of Delaware
The University of Delaware party scene is well-known, with The Princeton Review ranking this university as the top party school in the country. The underage drinking problem at the University of Delaware is so extreme that there was a recent alcohol-related death and subsequent lawsuit.
According to news reports, the parents of a 19-year-old student filed a lawsuit after the student was struck by a vehicle and killed after he attended a party off-campus. The judge ultimately ruled in favor of the university but it was found that the student’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit at the time of his death.
A recent ordinance passed in the city of Newark, where the University of Delaware is located, which attempts to address the party and drinking problems at the university. The law reportedly enables law enforcement to issue civil citations to anyone who hosts an unruly party with four or more people when the party threatens safety or health in some way.
University of Wisconsin, Madison
With 34,648 students enrolled, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is listed at number eight on Princeton Review’s list of top party schools. Underage binge drinking is common at this school, and the city itself tops the list of U.S. cities with the most binge drinking. Madison Police records show their most cited offense was for underage drinking, with 705 citations issued in 2017.
In addition, news reports state that parties at the university are common. According to University Health Services, their college freshman drinking statistics show approximately 75% of freshman at the university consume alcohol, which exceeds the national average. Police indicate that alcohol-related crime in Madison typically happens near the university campus and of the traffic deaths in Madison, 39% are attributable to alcohol.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University, home to 5,047 students, is ranked the number six party school in the nation. In addition to parties, Greek life at Lehigh University is also associated with college hazing which often includes irresponsible consumption of alcohol. The university’s student newspaper reported that all 13 of the university’s Greek organizations were given hazing charges in February 2019.
A typical Lehigh University party may involve activities that violate the university’s code of conduct for students. In addition to hazing, violations from the February 2019 incident included distributing alcohol irresponsibly, encouraging others to use alcohol, and illegally consuming/possessing alcohol. Irresponsible alcohol distribution includes consuming alcohol via kegs or during drinking games.
Student binge drinking is also common at Bucknell University, which is located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and enrolls 3,597 students. The school is number five on the Princeton Review list of top party schools in the country.
At Bucknell, alcohol abuse can be life-threatening. A news report urging campus officials to address the binge drinking issue on campus indicated that 42 students received hospital treatment for alcohol-related issues in a single semester. Two of them suffered from cardiac arrest. The report also states that there has been a 300% increase in sexual assaults on campus, with alcohol likely playing a role.
University of Colorado, Boulder
The University of Colorado, Boulder, does not make the list of top party schools in the U.S., but it is known for drug abuse. In fact, in the fall of 2018, there were 5 reported incidents of students being drugged while attending parties. There is a neighborhood on campus referred to as “The Hill,” and the area is known for hosting regular weekend parties.
With Colorado law legalizing recreational marijuana use for those who are at least 21 years of age, the campus has experienced issues surrounding this drug. Marijuana use in teens is still prohibited and students are not allowed to use or possess marijuana on campus. University officials are taking steps to reduce drug and alcohol abuse on campus by referring students to the Office of Student Conduct, and in some cases, to the local court for violations related to drugs and alcohol.
Ranked at number four on the top party schools on Princeton Review’s list, Syracuse University enrolls approximately 15,000 students. The university party scene is well-known. There have been published reports of students using a college fake ID to obtain alcohol, and some local liquor stores are also known for failing to ask for identification when students purchase alcohol.
Student leaders at Syracuse have expressed concern that it is not unusual for students to be sent to the hospital for alcohol-related incidents such as extreme intoxication. Like some other schools on the list, Syracuse University’s alcohol policy to address some of these concerns and give the university a framework for preventing alcohol-related issues and potentially intervening in alcohol-related issues. Despite these efforts and a history of serious consequences stemming from alcohol abuse, some students continue to drink excessively.
University of Texas, Austin
The University of Texas, Austin, is not currently on the list of top party schools in the nation, but it has been in the past. In 2014, The Princeton Review ranked it the number 15 party school in the country.
Greek Life at the University of Texas, Austin could contribute to its reputation as a party school. Austin is also known for music festivals, bars and low beer prices, which all contribute to college drinking.
Alcohol Abuse in College
While partying and underage drinking may be common at the top 10 least sober colleges, alcohol abuse in college students is not healthy. Some students may develop alcohol use disorders or experience significant consequences as a result of alcohol abuse.
Signs of alcohol abuse can include developing a tolerance for alcohol, needing more and more alcohol to experience the same effects, and spending a significant amount of time obtaining or using alcohol.
Students who are dependent upon alcohol may experience withdrawal when not using. They may also engage in dangerous behaviors, such as driving under the influence or having unprotected sex while drinking. College students who develop alcohol use disorders may fail to show up for class and earn poor grades as a result of drinking and recovering from its effects.
If you or a college student in your life is abusing alcohol, treatment may be necessary. The Recovery Village has locations around the country and can provide specialized teen alcohol rehab to college students who are struggling with alcohol abuse. Contact an admissions professional today to discuss treatment options designed specifically for teen alcohol or other substance abuse.
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Tulane University. “Facts and Figures.” Accessed July 2, 2019.
The Princeton Review. “Party schools.” 2019. Accessed July 2, 2019.
Soave, Robby. “Blame Binge Drinking for Tulane University’s 2-in-5 Female Sexual Assault Rate.” Reason, February 5, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2019.
University of Georgia. “UGA by the Numbers.” Accessed July 2, 2019.
Pirani, Fiza. “Hold my beer: This Georgia university was ranked No. 2 party school in the country.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 14, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2019.
West Virginia University. “Community standards of conduct.” June 27, 2019. Accessed July 2, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “West Virginia Opioid Summary.” March 2019. Accessed July 2, 2019.
Wilson, Xerxes. “University of Delaware not liable for drunk student’s death, judge rules.” Delaware News Journal, March 5, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2019.
Smith, Leanna. “Law targeting University of Delaware ‘super parties’ immediately enforceable.” Delaware News Journal, March 13, 2019. Accessed July 2, 2019.
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Bush, Stan. “Sororities at CU Boulder on alert following 5 drugging cases.” CBS4 Denver, October 23, 2018. Accessed July 3, 2019.
Meltzer, Erica. “Campus life: Drugs and alcohol rules and regs at CU.” Colorado Daily,January 13, 2016. Accessed July 3, 2019.
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Stanton, Robert. “UT-Austin listed among top party schools.” Houston Chronicle, August 5, 2013. Accessed July 3, 2019.
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