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University of Iowa claims top party school title

  • In this Oct. 2, 2010, file photo University of Iowa students react before an NCAA college football game against Penn State in Iowa City, Iowa. The Princeton Review named the University of Iowa as the nations's best party school Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, on a list determined by 126,000 students in a nationwide survey. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

IOWA CITY, Iowa — College students consider the University of Iowa the nation's best party school, even though Iowa City has tried to make its famous bar scene less hospitable to underage drinkers.

The Princeton Review bestowed Iowa with the top ranking Monday on a list determined by 126,000 students in a nationwide survey. Rounding out the Top 5 are: University of California, Santa Barbara; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; West Virginia University and Syracuse University.

The organization also released its "stone-cold sober schools" list — led again this year by Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah; and followed by Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.

Officials in Iowa City aren't celebrating the ranking, which comes after they've made recent strides in the battle against binge drinking on campus and downtown. University of Iowa spokesman Tom Moore said The Princeton Review "gets some things right," by describing Iowa as an affordable Big Ten university with students who are both studious and social.

"That indicates they are balancing their academic responsibilities with their social pursuits," he said.

The rankings are based on surveys in which an average of 333 students per campus are asked 80 questions about a range of subjects in the last three school years. Its methodology uses a five-point scale, allowing for school-to-school comparisons.

Universities routinely dismiss the rankings as unscientific and invalid, while praising the free publicity that comes along with positive ones. For instance, Emerson College is likely to embrace its ranking Monday as the most LGBT-friendly school, and the University of Mississippi will certainly tout its "most beautiful campus" designation.

Packed Iowa City bars blaring dance music, off-campus house parties and tailgating before Hawkeye football games are as much a part of Iowa's culture as the cornfields that surround the city. Fraternities and sororities also contribute to the party atmosphere.

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