GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida can raise a glass to another national title — best party school in the country.
The Gators, known for wild celebrations following national championships in football and basketball, wrested the party title away from West Virginia University and beat out the University of Mississippi and Penn State University, in the Princeton Review survey of 120,000 students released Monday.
The university has made the top 20 party school list for the past 15 years, but has never been No. 1.
Freshman Allison Belanger, a journalism and political science major, said she's only been on campus for a few weeks but already has had no problem finding a party.
"All I have to do is leave the dorm," said Belanger, 17. "A lot of people study hard and party hard."
A university spokesman said the party school reputation comes from the school's athletic successes. The Gators won two national basketball championships in 2006 and 2007 and one national football title at the end of the 2006 season.
"The fact that we have three national championships in two years is probably a major contributing factor," spokesman Steve Orlando said. "We know our students like to have a good time."
He defended the school's academic climate, noting Florida's incoming students have a weighted grade-point average of 4.1 and an average SAT score of 1,300.
Florida also came in first this year in the categories of students who study the least and students who pack the stadiums.
Joseph Milano, 21, a finance major from Palm Harbor, said a mostly young student body of 51,000 students and successful athletic programs make it easy to party.
"With a lot of people on campus, fun things happen," he said.
Chris Hickox, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, said he is working hard to try to get into veterinary school, so he doesn't have a lot of time to celebrate.
"We do party and have a good time, but I have to study or my Dad will kill me," he said.
The annual rankings also list the nation's "Stone-Cold Sober Schools." Topping that list was Utah's Brigham Young University for the 11th consecutive year.
The Princeton Review's annual guide, "The Best 368 Colleges," also ranks schools on scores from 60 to 99 based on admissions, financial aid, and a new category called the Green rating, which surveys colleges in part on their environmentally friendly practices.
The book has 62 categories in all, including: Best Professors, Middlebury College in Vermont, Tastiest Campus Food, Wheaton College in Illinois, and Best Dorms, Loyola College in Maryland. The students happiest with their financial aid attend Princeton University, which also tops the list for the most beautiful campus, the survey found.
The Princeton Review says the guide to the best schools is intended to help applicants who can't visit every school in person.
"In our opinion, each school in this book is first-rate academically," said Robert Franek, the book's author.
The Princeton Review is a New York company known for its test preparation courses, educational services and books and is not affiliated with Princeton University.