The pros and cons of choosing a 'party school' as an international student
Source: Modesta Žemgulytė on Unsplash

If you’re planning to study in the US, you might have heard of the uniquely American concept of ‘Party Schools’.

This essentially refers to a college or university with a reputation for debauchery, where students often hold house parties or go ‘out out’, while the school itself hosts an active fraternity or sorority scene. In other words, it can be more about fun than your studies…

Like all universities, party schools have their own perks and their inevitable sore spots.

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With this in mind, here are all the pros and cons we think you need to know before submitting your application to an American party school.


1. You’ll learn how to mix business and pleasure

Any good businessman will understand the perks of late night pubs and karaoke joints. Likewise, when climbing the corporate ladder in places like Japan and South Korea, it’s only in alcohol-laden social settings at night that you are able to truly mingle with your senior colleague or ask your boss for a raise.

Going to a party school – where you’ll likely be downing shots at 1am only to wake up for class at 9am – will prepare you well for the above-mentioned careers. If you think you (and your liver) can handle this, a good place to start your application process is in Princeton Review’s sub-category of college rankings for Lots of Beer.

2. It’s great practice for those heading towards show business

If you’re aiming for a career in showbiz, event management or entertainment, getting involved in these party schools’ frequent Greek Life events can give you real-world experience beyond any textbook. How do you deal with a crowd of 2,000 people in a cramped sorority house? How much food and drink do you need for a pre-gaming crowd?

A great party is all about logistics. If you want a playground to practise on, these party schools are for you.

3. It’s great for study-life balance

For international students, moving to a new country can be stressful. With none of your usual tools for venting, crawling out of the initial culture shock can be more than a little tricky.

For extroverts, however, a party school could solve this problem as it can give you access to many great events, from sporting games to Greek life, integrating you into the beating pulse of campus. All work and no play makes us dull creatures, and the parties also offer a counteracting effect to the stresses of academia.

Some may call this culture of partying and binge-drinking superficial, but if they help you blow off steam and recharge for the next day, then hey, the joke’s on them!


1. It can be excessive

Alcohol, drugs, casual sex – no  ne can judge you if these are done moderately and you score a perfect GPA of 4.0. The problem, however, is some of these substances are heavily addictive and may make some individuals with certain dispositions more dependent on them.

It takes a lot of discipline to regulate yourself in such environments so if you’re not up for this, it’s probably not worth signing up to one of these schools.

2. It will be expensive

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As an international student, you will be paying tuition fees several times more expensive than domestic students in addition to other expenses – visa, SEVIS, international student administration, etc – all of which add up to a substantial amount in the end.

And unless you’re one of those sporting Ferraris, you’ll most likely be living on a tight student budget. Adding a beer and party budget to your monthly budget means you’ll be shaving off money from other crucial amenities like proper nutrition and school supplies. Moral of the story: if you don’t have the funds, don’t go to one of these schools.

3. It’ll tire you out

While party schools can teach you how to survive on only four hours’ sleep and a hangover, this probably isn’t the best way to graduate with a great GPA in the long run. If you’ve got parents who insist on straight-A grades, you’re better off at a university where you won’t be socially pressured out of your beauty sleep to head to the bar instead.

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It may be easy to scoff at the crucial necessity of sleep when you’re 18 years old, but trust us, you’re going to need all you can when your course has a demanding reading list and even more demanding assignments. When researching, always look at the course syllabi and see whether you can handle that AND a demanding party lifestyle before deciding on that particular course and university.

At the end of the day, college is what you make of it. Some of the most infamous party colleges have produced students who’ve gone on to earn prestigious Fulbright, Truman, and Goldwater awards. The key is to research comprehensively, know yourself and choose wisely.

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