University is something many people aspire to. Some desire the prestige, others the pursuit of knowledge, and others still the reputable party life. The best universities aren’t necessarily the most prestigious, or the most intelligent, nor would anyone argue that those with the best parties are the best. Ultimately, those universities who can balance academics and fun are the ones that most benefit its students.
University of California, Santa Barbara
Students at the University of California rank #3 in the happiest students in USA, and understandably, the uni has a 91% retention rate. This university also ranks #2 on the Top Party Schools of 2013-2014 released by the Princeton Review. UCSB also features on the Times Higher Education world University rankings at #33 – how’s that for qualified?
As one of the most politically active schools in the US, UCSB was the university with the most registered voters in the 2008 presidential election. It’s also famous for its free music festival Extravaganza which is held annually and attracts people from all around the country.
The Canadian university comes in at #35 in the Times rankings and is featured on Playboy’s top party schools list (yes, apparently that is a ‘thing’). Apart from parties and studying, students attending this university are treated to an array of extra-curricular activities. This uni is home to the three oldest a cappella groups in the world, making a great place for music lovers. Student organisations and unions are numerous and very active, striving to improve student welfare and participation in uni life.
Achieving fourth place in the Times ranking, this university is prestigious and famous for its academics. It’s not particularly well known for parties however (damn), but parties aren’t everything.
Stanford reigns supreme at the moment in athletics, coming first in the Top Athletic Universities reported in the Huffington Post. Their athletics team, the Stanford Cardinal, has amassed 75 different championships in the last 25 years. They have won national titles in 16 different sports including tennis, volleyball, swimming and diving.
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
The number one university in the world in 2013-14, beating Harvard University for the third time in a row, this university makes this list not only for its academics and certainly not for its party life (or lack thereof), but because of the wide range of student-run activities it offers.
Listed as one of the top 20 sober schools by the Princeton Review, it certainly isn’t a party school – but it’s a good all-rounder. It’s well known for its elaborate pranks, the most famous being the Great Rose Bowl Hoax that was viewed by over 30 million people nationwide. In this prank, during a football match, students managed to alter the card stunt shown during the halftime break, culminating in the display of the word "CALTECH”.
How could it not make the list? Apart from being prestigious, academic and world famous, it’s actually very liberal. Students at Harvard have pushed to improve its social sphere and encourage a more robust uni life.
As an Ivy League school, Harvard has prestige – but its athletics sphere is good as well. All in all, this school knows how to work hard and play harder... or maybe the reverse is correct, it’s still a good balance.
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Adrian Rodriguez is a freelance writer and university student who knows how to balance work and play. The Master of Engineering Management offered at Macquarie University offers great career opportunities as well as opportunities for having fun.