College Q&A: What’s the deal with party schools?
You’ve probably heard rumors about the school I attended. The school named the “Top Party School” in the U.S. by Playboy in 2002 and remains in the top 10. The school that had a sex scandal involving the student body vice president. The school that’s easy driving distance to both Las Vegas and Rocky Point, Mexico. Arizona State University. I wasn’t a partier in high school, yet I ended up at an infamous party school. Before starting, I got a lot of “Hey, isn’t that a huge party school?” from friends and family. After classes began, it didn’t change much.
My answer then (and still is): “Any college can be a party school. You make it what it is.”
Sure, at ASU you could find a frat party pretty much any night of the week. The bar scene on Mill Avenue and further north in Old Town Scottsdale is a happening place. Hookups with party-crazy freshmen were common in my dorm, Manzanita Hall (known affectionately by upperclassmen as “15 Floors of Whores”). As a whole, drugs, sex and alcohol were easy to come by.
However, maybe attributable to being a bit of a goody-goody, I kept a 3.8 grade average and graduated in three and a half years. Oh, I had fun, believe me. (Mom, Dad, if you’re reading this… if I wasn’t at the library, I was drinking milk at the cafeteria and getting eight solid hours of sleep each night!) Ok, yeah, I did partake in some underage spirits. I’m a firm believer in having fun. But I was also not about to throw away my education. I knew I was paying an exorbitant amount of out-of-state tuition, and I wasn’t about to waste the money my grandparents and parents had carefully saved. Plus, I really wanted a college degree. Have fun, yes… but study? Yup to that, too.
Things have definitely cooled down for ASU since I was there, mostly attributed to the new president’s desire to get the school in the top tiers of research universities and out of the top tiers of boobie magazine polls. As an ASU alumna, I’m glad. They’ve spent a lot of money and resources to improve education across the various colleges. This crack-down might put a damper on on-campus keg parties, but I guarantee someone will still be having a party every Friday night, and there’s always the opportunity to meet like-minded freshmen looking for a casual hook-up. If that’s literally all you want, why spend the thousands of dollars to attend college? Hit up your local college campus-adjacent bar.
The reputation ASU had as a party school didn’t come out of nowhere. I will concede it was probably (definitely) easier to find a party or drugs or whatever you wanted than at, say, Brigham Young University. Not saying the LDS community doesn’t have fun, but again, their college campuses have cleaner reputations. But again, you make it what it is. Whether or not you go to parties, also go to class, study and be able to enjoy non-alcoholic beverages, too (milk!). You’ll still have a blast, and you’ll have the added benefit of walking away at the end of it with tangible evidence of your experience: a college degree.
This article is part of the BetterGrads special series “BetterGrads Q&A.” Contributors are asked to pick one big question they had about college and tell how they found (or didn’t find) the answer. If you’d like to submit an article for this series, please read our editorial guidelines and let us know here.