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School Reclaims Dubious Crown

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Beating Harvard or Yale on a list of rankings would ordinarily make administrators at the State University of New York at Albany beam. But not when it wins the nation's No. 1 party school crown.

Albany was ranked seventh in the use of hard liquor and marijuana, ninth in beer drinking and first in "students (almost) never study," helping get Princeton Review's top party spot.

The review's annual "Best 357 Colleges" survey, conducted since 1992, is based on responses from more than 110,000 students at campuses around the country. The review has no affiliation with Princeton University.

"The rankings are not to be taken seriously, and are certainly not reflective of the serious, hardworking students at Albany," university spokeswoman Lisa James-Goldsberry said in a statement. "If this were a term paper, it would get an "F" in methodology."

It is the ninth time the University at Albany — a state-run school with an undergraduate enrollment of 12,000 students — has been on the party school list. It was No. 1 in 1998 and No. 14 last year. The University of Colorado at Boulder ranked No. 1 last year.

One recent Albany graduate said the latest ranking wasn't too surprising. "It's pretty crazy," said Matt Kazimir, 21, a from Danbury, Conn. "There's always a party."

Still, some students say Albany's ranking isn't deserved.

"I wouldn't agree it's No. 1," said junior Brian Fessler, 20. "There are certainly a lot of opportunities to party, but it's also a great institution with some top programs. There are great academic opportunities, as well."

Brigham Young University was ranked the top "stone-cold sober" school, the survey found. Massachusetts Institute of Technology was the toughest to get into. The happiest students overall were at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.

The "party school" category is based on questions focusing on the amount of alcohol and drug consumption, the amount of time students spend studying, and the popularity of fraternities and sororities.

The American Medical Association has criticized party school listings, saying they legitimize high-risk drinking and portray alcohol as an essential part of student life.

Robert Franek, lead author for the survey, disagrees and says the survey accurately reflects college life — for better or worse — and can be a vehicle for change.

"I think we do a great service for college-bound students, being in a very unique position to get onto the 357 best college campuses and ask students tough questions," Franek said.

Other top 10 party schools were Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Va.; the University of Wisconsin-Madison; West Virginia University, Morgantown; Ohio University, Athens; Florida State University, Tallahassee; University of Texas-Austin; University of Georgia, Athens; University of Colorado; University of Mississippi.