This ranking isn't likely to make it into Penn State University's recruitment literature: No. 1 party school.
The Princeton Review yesterday named Penn State's University Park campus the top party school in the nation in its 2010 edition of "The Best 371 Colleges," which has rankings ranging from academics to campus life.
Penn State had come close before -- No. 2 in the 2007 edition, No. 6 in 2008 edition and No. 3 in the 2009 book -- but this is the first time it has ranked No. 1.
West Virginia University, which ranked No. 1 in the 2008 edition, fell to No. 6 this time.
Penn State spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz called the survey unrepresentative, noting:
"There are about 10 sites I found on Facebook urging students to vote and make Penn State the No. 1 party school, which shows that these rankings are nothing more than a popularity contest. It's become a badge of honor among students to get their school as No. 1 in these categories. The results are not connected to reality.
"The students that are answering are not the ones spending their time in the library studying and getting the high grades that pump up our graduation rates."
Robert Franek, author of the Princeton Review book, which has been published for 18 years, said, "I couldn't disagree more that it's not a representative survey."
The survey included a total of 122,000 students nationwide from all of the schools.
"We are asking the true consumers of these schools their experiences," he said.
Mr. Franek said that all schools listed in the book are asked to encourage students to respond to the survey. In addition, students can go to the Princeton Review's Web site to fill it out.
All students can vote just once a year, and all must use an e-mail address issued by the school they attend on the survey for their answers to be counted.
The survey has about 80 questions, and five of them form the basis of the party school designation.
Penn State ranked in the top 11 on four of the five categories.
It was No. 1 in lots of beer, No. 3 in major fraternity and sorority scene, No. 9 in lots of hard liquor and No. 11 in reports of lowest number of study hours per day.
The only party category not in the top 20 was drug use.
In addition to rankings related to the party school, Penn State was rated No. 1in the popularity of intercollegiate sports; No. 2 in students dissatisfied with financial aid; No. 3 in jock schools; No. 3 in best athletic facilities; No. 6 in best career services; No. 6 in everyone plays intramural sports; No. 6 in best college newspaper; and No. 17 in least politically active students.
Ms. Mountz agreed that Penn State has highly regarded career services and student newspaper, but said she wasn't agreeing because of the rankings.
She also disagreed with the financial aid ranking, noting that Penn State was one of the first to go to direct lending, thus helping to ensure availability of student loans for its students.
Eleanor Chute can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1955.