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Party Hearty then Earn Big: America’s Top Party Colleges by Salary Potential

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Even though some educators and administrators dislike college rankings with a passion, we’re all guilty of paying attention to those top colleges lists. After all, what better way is there to learn about the cheapest colleges in America, the colleges with the nicest dorms and the colleges with the happiest students?

College rankings are calculated and published annually by a variety of organizations including The Princeton Review, US News and World Report, Washington Monthly, StateUniversity.com and even Playboy.

Top Party Colleges

Although college is supposed to be an educational experience, college rankings lists mentioning the top party schools in America are typically celebrated by students—especially the students that attend the biggest party colleges!

If you’re looking to party hearty during your college years but still want to earn a fat paycheck after graduation, you might want to consider the following schools. Based on information published by both the online compensation database PayScale and The Princeton Review in 2011, these top party colleges by salary potential are scattered across the U.S., proving it’s possible to get wild and crazy on campus in any region of the country.

Party Schools: Northeast

Pennsylvania State University | University Park, PA

Penn State’s football program is the midst of one of the most scandalous child sex abuse investigations in history, shocking the entire Penn State community as well as Nittany Lions football fans. Apparently plenty of Penn State students will enjoy drowning their sorrows by hitting the bottle, because the college is consistently named one of the top party schools in the country.

Starting Median Salary of Penn State grads: $48,300

Mid-Career Median Salary of Penn State grads: $83,700

Party Schools: Mid-Atlantic

University of Maryland | College Park, MD

University of Maryland co-eds seem to make more headlines for their drunken riots than their academic achievements, but one way or another UMD manages to produce people that earn the big bucks. In 2010, some UMD students went a bit berserk after the Maryland Terrapins’ men’s basketball team beat their massive rival Duke. The students’ post-game antics were described as “poor judgment” in a news release, but in reality it sounds more like “one too many.” Similar events occurred after the team’s loss in 2001 as well as their victory in 2002.

Starting Median Salary of UMD grads: $49,500

Mid-Career Median Salary of UMD grads: $89,800

Party Schools: Southeast

University of Georgia | Athens, GA

University of Georgia leaders think their school is top-notch, so they probably aren’t too thrilled when UGA tops lists of popular party colleges. Athens is home to nearly 100 bars— in addition to all of the ever-present house parties featuring drinking games galore—so it’s almost a no brainer that the Georgia Bulldogs know how to chug with the best of em!

Starting Median Salary of UGA grads: $41,000

Mid-Career Median Salary of UGA grads: $79,400

University of Florida | Gainesville, FL

Combine a huge mostly-young student body with plenty of impressive sports teams, and what do you get? One of the biggest party schools in the nation, of course! The University of Florida is known for its strong athletics programs, but the Gators themselves are known for their wild celebrations following all those NCAA championships. Florida officials claim that its students study hard but know how to have a good time, too. Guess it really is possible to mix business with pleasure, since UF grads also know how to bring home the bacon.

Starting Median Salary of UF grads: $45,300

Mid-Career Median Salary of UF grads: $80,700

Party Schools: Midwest

University of Wisconsin-Madison | Madison, WI

Wisconsin might be known for its cheese, but UW-Madison students are known for their drinking. Rumor is that Wisconsin has a higher people-to-bar ratio than any other state in the country, and thanks to annual events like the Mifflin Street Block Party in addition to tailgating before—and drinking during—football games, the Badgers definitely know how to party. Perhaps it’s all just preparation for future business meetings at bars, because UW-Madison graduates typically earn a first-rate starting salary.

Starting Median Salary of UW grads: $46,900

Mid-Career Median Salary of UW grads: $84,800

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | Champaign, IL

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign officials turned up their noses when the school was given the dubious honor of being a top party college, but sometimes the truth hurts. There are plenty of bars for students to frequent near campus, and the university has the largest Greek system in the world by membership. Even so, the Fighting Illini must learn a thing or two in between games of beer pong-—alumni salaries are just as impressive as the university’s high-ranking academic programs.

Starting Median Salary of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign grads: $51,500

Mid-Career Median Salary of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign grads: $94,300

Party Schools: Southwest

University of Texas at Austin | Austin, TX

The University of Texas at Austin gives students the ability to make new friends and experience life’s challenges while pursuing academic and career goals—oh, and let’s not forget the ability to party! Not only does the university offer highly respected programs in a variety of fields, the Texas Longhorns have appeared on multiple top party schools lists over the past few years. UT has one of the largest single-campus enrollments in the country and apparently all those students know how to knock em back. They do say everything’s bigger in Texas, which also seems to be the case with UT alumni paychecks.

Starting Median Salary of University of Texas at Austin graduates: $48,200

Mid-Career Median Salary of University of Texas at Austin at Austin graduates: $89,500

Party Schools: West Coast

University of California Santa Barbara | Santa Barbara, CA

Feeling as if you’re lost in the crowd can be easy at a school as big as UC Santa Barbara, but if you like to let the good times roll you should be able to fit right in just fine. A large majority of students live immediately adjacent to campus in the community of Isla Vista, which has had a party rep since the early 1960s. The trend continues to this day, meaning the UCSB Gauchos aren’t afraid to get wild on the weekends—or weekdays, for that matter.

Starting Median Salary of University of California Santa Barbara graduates: $47,300

Mid-Career Median Salary of University of California Santa Barbara graduates: $91,000

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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