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The Work Hard, Play Hard Schools


College is first and foremost a place to receive an education, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun along the way! While it’s important to hit the books and make the grade, the students at these schools know the importance of working hard and then playing even harder.  When it comes to academics and partying, they go big or go home.


With its #14 ranking on U.S. News’ Liberal Arts Colleges list  and 18 percent acceptance rate, Washington & Lee is a pretty impressive school. Plus it’s the nation’s ninth oldest institution of higher education, so it’s safe to assume it has academics down to a T.

We should also mention that 80 percent of the student population is involved in Greek life and BroBible recognized the school as having some of the best fraternity parties in the nation. W&L students may spend over 45 hours a week on homework, but they also make time to party.


Ranked #6 on Business Insider’s“Work Hard, Play Hard” list, this top 25 school has students who will impress you academically and then show you a great time. Only 26 percent of applicants get to enjoy Colgate’s work hard, play hard mentality, and Buzzfeed ranked it #3 on its Smartest Party Schools list. If you can stand the long winters, Colgate is a great school for a solid education and thriving social life.


As if you don’t already know, let us remind you of MIT’s unprecedented status as the #1 best university in the world three years in a row according to BBC. It’s globally known for its science and technology research, and with a 7.9 percent acceptance rate, it’s safe to assume that MIT students excel at the “work hard” part of this list.

Yet working hard usually warrants some playing hard as well, which is why MIT topped Business Insider’s“Work Hard, Play Hard” list in 2014. With 49 percent of males in fraternities and 32 percent of females in sororities, Greek life also plays a role in MIT’s party scene. Students often go to parties in the brownstone mansions converted to frat houses or hit the bars in Boston. But after every crazy weekend, you know that MIT students are back to the books come Monday morning.


Nicknamed “The Social Ivy,” Penn students have perfectly balanced their academic responsibilities by blowing off steam. Ranked #8 in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Penn also sends more graduates to Wall Street than any other U.S. college and has more billionaire undergraduate alumni than Harvard.

While it’s topping the charts academically, Penn was also ranked #1 on Playboy’s Top 10 Party Schools list in 2014, beating out notorious party schools like Syracuse and University of Miami. We really shouldn’t be surprised though, considering more than 25 percent of the undergraduate student population is involved in Greek life, and Penn’s Spring Fling is known for getting incredibly rowdy. We guess brains and booze do mix after all!


The Trojans at USC seem to have it all. They’re known to be an academic powerhouse—their incoming Class of 2019 was chosen at a school-record-low of 17.5 percent acceptance rate. But they also know how to turn up on the weekends. In 2013, USC came in at #4 in Playboy magazine’s list of Top 10 Party Schools. As if going to school in L.A. couldn’t get any cooler, the school has a thriving Greek scene, along with the menagerie of bars and night clubs in the city proper. Each December, USC’s  annual “Frost” party brings both Greeks and non-Greeks together for an all-white extravaganza complete with ice bars and snow—sounds like enough to make you forget you’re living in Southern California!


Wake Forest, or “Work Forest,” is ranked #27 in the nation for its academic rigor and prestige. But the overwhelming amount of work doesn’t stop the Demon Deacons from having some fun. “We know the academics aren't easy, [so] to blow off steam, we have Wake Wednesdays which gives us an excuse to go out on a Wednesday night,” says Haleigh, a sophomore at Wake Forest.  “Fridays and Saturdays are always ragers with on-campus parties, off-campus throw-downs and bar crawls in downtown Winston Salem.”

Additionally, the majority of students are involved in Greek life (39 percent of guys, 58 percent of girls), so having a social life is always a priority for Wake students. “Students are always stressing about schoolwork and getting the best grades possible, but at the same time the student body, as a whole, is super social—students are either in the Greek system or they have friends in the Greek system,” says Raquel, a senior at Wake. “The library always seems filled with students who are trying to get their work done so they can enjoy their night out later!”


Besides having an amazing basketball program, Duke is also known for its academics. Consistently ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report, this prestigious university also has highly ranked graduate programs.

When the Blue Devils aren’t winning national basketball championships or hitting the books, they’re probably drinking somewhere. On the last day of classes, the entire school throws down in a campus-wide party, which usually includes a concert and lots of drinking. Of course students will buckle down the next day for finals, but at least they get to go hard beforehand.


While commonly nicknamed “Villa-no-fun,” any true Nova nationer would strongly disagree. Consistently rated the #1 University in the Northeast, Villanova has a 98 percent employment/graduate school placement rate across all four colleges.

“As one of the most selective Catholic universities in the country, [Villanova] students work incredibly hard, have impressive resumes, unbelievable accomplishments and excel in school,” says Kristin, a current Villanova senior. “However at night, especially on the weekends, Villanova students play as hard as they work and know how to have a good time.”

Basketball season is one of the highlights of the school year, and Nova’s student section was ranked #44 in fan attendance this year, with an average of 9,600 students at each game. “We have an insane amount of school spirit. The [basketball] season typically feels like one big party from the games to the tailgates to the after parties,” Kristin says. While Nova students do take their studies seriously, they’re also successfully shaking their “Villa-no-fun” reputation.


The smarties at UNC not only take their studies seriously, but they also never miss an opportunity to rock that Carolina blue. Students go absolutely crazy during football and basketball season, yet still make time for their academics, giving UNC the #30 spot in the national U.S. News & World Report College Rankings.

With over 3,000 students involved in Greek life, the party scene is always available for those done studying in the library. Plus, everyone goes to the Carolina Cup, aka the biggest drinking event of the year. Buzzfeed also named UNC its #2 on the Smartest Party Schools list, simply proving that the Tar Heels truly know how to work and play hard.

1. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

With its 32 percent acceptance rate and 29th standing in the U.S. News & World Report National Universities Rankings, there’s no doubt that University of Michigan is an academic powerhouse. But don’t let Michigan’s impressive education fool you into thinking students don’t have a great time. Known for their abundance of school spirit during football season, the Wolverines live by the unofficial motto, “Win or lose, we still booze.”

“Michigan is known for its work-hard, play-hard mentality,” says Rebecca, a senior at Michigan. “[We] know how to wake up at the crack of dawn for a football Saturday, then hit the library all the next day.” While they’re not cheering on their team or hitting the books, Michigan students are participating in Greek life, with over 60 fraternity and sorority chapters on campus. Usually you can find a frat party any day of the week.

“With 8 a.m. football tailgates, prominent Greek life and a wide array of bars and clubs, we Wolverines truly know how to party while keeping our Public Ivy academic status,” says Emily, a sophomore at Michigan. “It's this balance that makes Michigan such a fun and challenging school."

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