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State College Ranked ‘Drunkest’ City In Pennsylvania On List Dominated By College Towns

Groundbreaking news hit the web this week in the form of a “drunkest cities” list: College students drink. Really, it’s fascinating.

State College is officially the “drunkest” city in Pennsylvania, according to a USA Today-published listing from its content partner 24/7 Wall St. The drunkest city in each state was determined based on adults who reported binge or heavy drinking and also on alcohol-related deaths.

“Few groups are more likely to drink excessively than college students,” the State College entry reads. Just a few other college towns made the list, too, including:

  • Auburn, Alabama: Auburn University
  • Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska at Fairbanks
  • Flagstaff, Arizona: Northern Arizona University
  • Fayetteville, Arkansas: University of Arkansas
  • Chico, California: California State University, Chico
  • Fort Collins, Colorado: Colorado State University
  • Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia
  • Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University
  • Iowa City, Iowa: University of Iowa
  • Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas
  • Louisville, Kentucky: University of Louisville
  • Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University
  • Mankato, Minnesota: Minnesota State University
  • Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri
  • Missoula, Montana: University of Montana
  • Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska
  • Reno, Nevada: University of Nevada
  • Fargo, North Dakota: North Dakota State University
  • Columbus, Ohio: The Ohio State University
  • Providence, Rhode Island: Brown University (also Rhode Island College if you’re into that sort of thing)
  • Nashville, Tennessee: Vanderbilt University, Tennessee State University
  • Austin, Texas: University of Texas
  • Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah
  • Burlington, Vermont: University of Vermont
  • Blacksburg, Virginia: Virginia Tech
  • Seattle, Washington: University of Washington
  • Morgantown, West Virginia: West Virginia University


For those of you counting at home, more than half the list is dominated by college towns, and the rest includes some major vacation destinations and military bases. Penn State is the largest university in Pennsylvania, so it doesn’t take a lot to figure out State College is probably one of the biggest drinking towns.

According to the listing, 22.3 percent of State College adults report drinking excessively. Also, 24.1 percent of residents are enrolled in college or graduate school. This doesn’t seem like much of a coincidence.

The article also reports college graduates are more likely to drink than the average American, and nearly 50 percent of State College adults have graduated from a four-year college.

Data used to determine which metropolitan areas (Sidebar: Is State College really metropolitan?) are the drunkest was compiled from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program; 24/7 Wall St., which is produced independently of USA Today, reviewed the percentage of men and women over 18 who report binge or heavy drinking in each state’s metro areas. Social and economic factors came from the 2016 U.S. Census American Community Survey. Data on alcohol-induced mortality rates came from the Center for Disease Control.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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