Before pundits can even assess how well the new Greek life regulations actually work in practice for an entire school year, Penn State’s reputation might be starting to change. When The Princeton Review published its 2018 rankings on Monday, Penn State didn’t make the cut as one of the top 20 party schools in the country for the first time since well before Onward State was founded in 2008. Archives of past rankings show Penn State made the list every year since at least 2003.
For years, Penn State was a mainstay among the top ten schools, including multiple top-five finishes, namely 2010, when “Greek State” came in as the No. 1 Party School in the Nation. Just a year ago, Penn State was No. 7 on the list. This year, Tulane claimed the top spot in the rankings, while Big Ten rivals Wisconsin and Iowa also made the top 20.
The most noticeable difference between Penn State in 2018 and the previous 15+ years is the new regulations levied in the wake of Tim Piazza’s death after bid acceptance hazing rituals at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house. Whereas in years past fraternities could host 45 socials per semester and lacked clear restrictions on serving alcohol, chapters now can only host 10 socials with alcohol per semester, only serve wine and beer (but no kegs), and supposedly must put an end to the unruly underage drinking problem.
While the success of the new Greek Life regulations remains to be seen, they seem to be influencing how The Princeton Review sees Penn State. After all, the publication is ranking the best party schools and may view these restrictions as a hindrance to Penn State’s night(and daylong)life. Strong Greek Life seems to be a key criterion for the ranking as eight schools fall in the top 20 for both categories. However, the lively State College bar scene, and Penn State’s classic football game day tailgates remain pillars of the university’s social system and should be largely unaffected by the new Greek life restrictions.
Although the party school ranking may come as a surprise and even a snub to many, The Princeton Review commended Penn State in a few other, more important rankings with the No. 3 alumni network, No. 4 athletic facilities, No. 4 school newspaper (cc @DailyCollegian) No. 7 career services, No. 7 internship prospects, and No. 10 school pride. The university was also recognized as one of the top 382 colleges, one of the best Northeastern colleges, a green college, and a college that will pay you back. Despite this other high praise, The Princeton Review seems to have the pulse of students; it ranked Penn State as the No. 8 “not so great” financial aid school.