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UND among top 20 party schools

Party school

The University of North Dakota sounds just like the kind of place for high school graduates who like to get their booze on and lay off the books as much as possible, if you believe the latest rankings from a popular guide to colleges.

The university is No. 5 in the nation for having students who study the least.

It's No. 15 for students who down the most liquor.

And, overall, it's No. 18 among the party schools.

Those are all results from a survey of students at the top 12 to 13 percent of the nation's universities, as conducted by the Princeton Review.

UND is the only university in North Dakota that was mentioned in the 2010 edition of "Best 371 Colleges."

The law school and business school were mentioned in sister publications "Best 174 Law Schools" and "Best 296 Business Schools," though neither of them got any special notoriety.

"I have a high regard for each of those schools from an academic perspective," said Robert Franek, the primary author of "Best 371 Colleges." But, he said, "The goal of the book and the mission of the Princeton Review is to make sure college-bound students find a right fit for them."

The reaction from UND was mixed.

"We've been on Princeton Review for a number of years; we take it with a big block of salt," said spokesman Peter Johnson. The survey wasn't conducted in a scientific manner, so it's hard to take it very seriously, even the relatively positive ranking among the best 371, he said.

Robert Franek, the primary author of "Best 371 Colleges," said the report relies on a large sample of students - 122,000 in all, answering an 80-question survey online - and touts the fact that it's "information from primary sources and those are college experts: current college students."

Student Body President Tyrone Grandstrand and Vice President Matt Bakke aren't entirely sure UND is as big a party school as it's made out to be.

They said they haven't felt the presence of an overwhelming party culture at UND.

It's not as if most students come to class and brag about how wasted they got over the weekend, they said.

Some do, but others spent the time studying.

"From experiences among students at UND, students definitely like to go out and have a good time, let some steam off," Bakke said. "But I think you can see from the academic records that we do perform in the classroom as well."

Johnson acknowledged that being in the top binge drinking state does have an impact on UND, but the university is working to reduce that.

Franek said he hasn't noticed a link between the party-school status and weak academic performance.

Pennsylvania State University in University Park, for example, is the No. 1 party school with a No. 1 showing in beer swilling, No. 9 in liquor gulping, No. 3 on the Greek scene and No. 11 in least studying. Yet its academic rating, as determined by Princeton Review, is a respectable 74, a little higher than UND's 70. Average grade point average for Penn State is 3.57 compared with UND's 3.38.