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How do you know if a college is a "party school" ?


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I don't have a whole lot of English advice as it certainly isn't my forte, but I am curious as to what you thought about Baylor. It's on my middle son's list, but we're in PA, so it's a far longer trip to visit. He's interested in Pre-med or med research. We were going to combine the trip with a visit to Rice, but he's no longer interested in Rice after reading about their college life and its emphasis on drinking, etc., so Baylor is out there in TX alone. I don't know whether to put it on a back burner or make the effort to visit this winter.

 

I didn't want to hijack an earlier thread so I brought the quote over here. I would never have thought Rice to have a "party" reputation, which made me think: how do we learn more about a potential school?

 

Besides reading anecdotally about a college being a party school, are there any other clues about what the student body is really like? From my own experience I know to check out a campus on Friday or Saturday nights (!) but sometimes that is just not feasible. And we have neither the time nor expense to weed out all the good from the bad.

 

My D's best friend just spent 7 weeks as a freshman at a "highly-supervised" summer session at our number 2 state school that is reputedly quite academic, but the horror stories...drinking, blacking out, going from one dorm party to the next, getting multiple ++++ body piercings and not remembering getting them, while her roommate got several permanent tattoos. These are "nice" girls from decent communities with involved parents! Both of them ended up with grades of C for the 2 easy classes they took. As a frame of reference, I am not a prude, I let my D pierce her nose, she wears henna tattoos herself, no curfew (doesn't really need one)....I'm an old, liberal hippie-type mom.

 

I am encouraging my D to request an Honors floor or an Honors wing for housing, regardless of where she ends up going, but as is all too common, even the really academic kids (IB/AP classes in high school) party quite a bit. As my D told me wryly last night, "mom, sometimes I feel like such a loser...I'd rather spend my Friday night giving myself a facial and reading a romance novel than going to endless rounds of stupid parties getting drunk."

 

One of the reasons I have chosen to homeschool is to place an emphasis on higher caliber personal and intellectual development. I know my D will make good choices when she goes to college, and I want her to feel her time in college is not hindered by the mindset of her fellow students.

 

So how do we find those settings that best work for our children? Any pointers?

Edited by distancia
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Let's be brutally honest: all colleges are going to have a party contingent in the student body. When I was an undergrad, a Christian college in town was known to have a significant drug culture, the point being that even so called "Christian" schools have their share of alcohol and drugs.

 

I think that the best we can do as parents is to raise well grounded and confident kids who will neither seek nor rely on substances. Many top notch schools are known for students who work hard and party hard. The latter may mean alcohol or it could mean folk dancing. Smart kids need to let their hair down just everyone else. I hope that my son does so by playing ultimate frisbee or making music with friends.

 

I am of the opinion that fraternities and sororities also encourage drinking. (Opening can of worms here! Every time I make a statement on the effects of Greek life on campus, I hear tales of frats or sororities which focus on community service--not partying. So I recognize that I am painting Greeks with a very broad brush.) Campuses that have a large proportion of students belonging to Greek organizations often seem to have higher ratings on the party lists.

 

At some schools, partying is tied to sports although I have never seen statistics on whether schools with Division I football teams have students who drink more than students with Division III teams.

 

Back to my original claim: I think that our young people will be tested wherever they land.

 

Jane

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Since we're located quite a distance from some schools my boys have considered or are considering, we're relying quite a bit on Princeton Review (sign up for a free account, search for colleges, then click on "more" under college life or something similar to that) and Choosing the Right College ($25 for a subscription online and this only does 200+ schools, not all of them like Princeton does, but those schools it talks about it tells more in great detail making it worth the $$ in my mind - note this site in general is meant for conservative leaning parents/students, but I know people of all political persuasions that use it for the details and simply don't care about some of it).

 

Then I google the schools and see what comes up - good, bad, and ugly - I read a bit of it - just to know. I consider the source when I read.

 

As others have said, all schools will have drugs and/or alcohol to some extent. Some students even prefer more vs less. We're just looking for a good fit for each of my boys and trying to winnow as best we can from a distance. Therefore, we will use other people's opinions as best we can. Many schools are good for academics - we want that and as good a fit as we can get within our budget.

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Honey, if it's a college, it's a party school. You might get away from that if you send them to ORU, Hillsboro, Patrick Henry, etc. - but in general, young people are going to experiment with something in college....

 

:iagree:

 

Expect some experimentation, esp Freshman year. It seems to settle down after that.

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Ds attends Georgia Tech, which is not a party school (though as above posters have stated, there is a party element to EVERY school.) However, the school does have a reputation for heavy drinking--after midterms, finals, major tests even.

 

Ds is a total "nerd" spending Friday nights at programming competitions and such. He chose this school based on the academic outcome he wants.

 

After a certain point it's all up to the student. We as parents can only shelter them so much. Ds spent his first 2 years of college attending a very small university an living at home.

 

He knows binge drinkers. He knows students who never drink. He knows he is not of legal drinking age yet, and he has seen others get into a lot of trouble. He stays away from the frat life.

 

He is totally monetarily self sufficient, but he still seeks our advice. I have had several "philosophical" discussions with him that drove me to tears, because he was testing beliefs he encountered at his co-op job against the "mom and dad wall of judgement!"

 

I guess my point in all the above is that parents have to let go. And the kids have to grow up.

 

I thank God every night that ds is safe and still seems to have his head on pretty straight!

 

Mary

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Honey, if it's a college, it's a party school.

 

I disagree. At all schools there are parties, but at some schools partying is more expected than at others. There will always be those that don't party, but the percentages are different. Those with higher expectations (peer pressure) and percentages are those I would consider "party schools."

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Some kids will party and some kids won't at any school. I went to 3 different colleges and here's what I found. The Christian college had as high of a party ratio as the state school that was known for that. At the Christian college, it tended to be the PKs or kids that came from a similar strict upbringing that partied out of control the most. My theory is that they came from such controlled and protected upbringings that when they did get a little freedom, they didn't know how to handle it and had to learn the hard way. Most of these kids settled down also by their junior year.

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Honey, if it's a college, it's a party school.... but in general, young people are going to experiment with something in college....

 

I disagree, also, inasmuch as every college is going to have as much partying from one to the next. I just cannot be convinced that a science/technology oriented school is going to have the same ratio of "hard partying" students as a university filled with students who are going to school because they (or their parents) don't know how else to occupy the void following high school.

 

Granted, there is experimentation at colleges, but a student shouldn't have to be forced into certian housing situation to avoid the predominance of drinking.

 

As an example, at UCF here in Florida one has to make a specific request to live in a building that is "free of alchohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs."

 

I am neither conservative nor a prude, and I recognize that many freshman go to college and go wild (hence, the nationwide dropout rate of 25%). At the same time, I do believe there must be a certain number of schools where the students are a tad more responsible about moderating their alcohol, tobacco, and drug use.

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I'm just not sure where those schools are, save for some I mentioned, LOL.... A very expensive engineering oriented school might not have as many students who party as hard, but large state schools known for engineering (like UT, Knoxville, where I attended), or UK (where I live) are known as party schools....

 

I guess the lists of "party schools" that come out each year must rate schools by the ratio of those who say they party hard to those who say they don't. I'm not sure how accurate such surveys might be....

 

Here's the Princeton Review's top list for last year:

 

http://campuslife.suite101.com/article.cfm/top_american_party_schools_for_20092010

 

(I see UT is still in the top 20, LOL, but UK doesn't even make the list....)

 

And here's their definition of what it means to them to be a party school:

 

http://campuslife.suite101.com/article.cfm/top-party-schools-what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-party-college

 

And I believe this is the most recent ranking for stone cold sober schools:

 

http://www.campusgrotto.com/stone-cold-sober-schools.html

 

(although I can't find a direct link....)

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The stone cold sober schools list struck me funny...Although I went to Calvin College many, many years ago...it's the Christian school I was referring to a few posts up.

 

I don't think Calvin has changed much. When I was researching the school last year I certainly was informed of the party aspect at it. I'm not sure I'd call it a party school, but I certainly wouldn't put it on a list of stone cold sober either. I don't particularly trust many of those lists as it all depends on who answers their surveys. I prefer word of mouth from current students, alumni, or locals (or google). It helps that we don't need stone cold sober either - just a good fit overall for each youngun.

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Let's be brutally honest: all colleges are going to have a party contingent in the student body. When I was an undergrad, a Christian college in town was known to have a significant drug culture, the point being that even so called "Christian" schools have their share of alcohol and drugs.

 

I think that the best we can do as parents is to raise well grounded and confident kids who will neither seek nor rely on substances. Many top notch schools are known for students who work hard and party hard. The latter may mean alcohol or it could mean folk dancing. Smart kids need to let their hair down just everyone else. I hope that my son does so by playing ultimate frisbee or making music with friends.

 

I am of the opinion that fraternities and sororities also encourage drinking. (Opening can of worms here! Every time I make a statement on the effects of Greek life on campus, I hear tales of frats or sororities which focus on community service--not partying. So I recognize that I am painting Greeks with a very broad brush.) Campuses that have a large proportion of students belonging to Greek organizations often seem to have higher ratings on the party lists.

 

At some schools, partying is tied to sports although I have never seen statistics on whether schools with Division I football teams have students who drink more than students with Division III teams.

 

Back to my original claim: I think that our young people will be tested wherever they land.

 

Jane

:iagree: I remember when Ds#1 was looking for colleges. He really liked the history/political science department at a certain private Christian college. When we toured the campus it became evident from listening to the other parents that many of them were sending their "problem" children to this particular school hoping that it would curb their darlings' tendencies to "party". It was interesting to listen to the student tour guides. They tried to tell these parents that there is drug use, alcohol use, and s*x at this particular school, as well as any school, and if the students are looking for it, they will find it. I thought the students did a great job being open and transparent. But I feared for these parents and their kids because they seemed to have the naive expectation that the setting their student was in would change their student's heart.

 

My ds chose to go to the big state school after changing his mind on his major. He has significantly more "Christian" opportunities that are more in line with our family beliefs, he has made friends among a wide spectrum of students, he has learned which ones will be loyal and which are just fun to hang with, and he has had to know why he believes what he believes - and that's a wonderful thing!

 

And one of his friends is a member of a frat, in fact a leader in the frat, and that young man has chosen not to drink before he is of age. So there are good kids even in frats!

 

He did say a few days ago that he needed to be ready for his eyes to be assaulted :lol: He explained that he seldom sees as much "female leg" as he sees when he hits campus in the summer/fall. ;)

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