The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Here are the best college rankings: From party schools to food

Students walk across the Drillfield on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. (Photo via REUTERS/Chris Keane)

The annual U.S. News and World Report college rankings for 2016 were released Tuesday, with Princeton University topping the list of national universities, the University of California, Berkeley named best public school and Williams College the best liberal arts institution.

The U.S. News ranking lists what the editors described as America’s “best colleges.” But that’s just one magazine’s opinion.

U.S. News college rankings: Princeton, Williams and UC-Berkeley at the top, again

Thanks to the Internet, there’s a plethora of rankings for just about every aspect of college life: best dorms, best food, best traditions, best college bars, and, of course, best parties.

So here’s a ranking of all the rankings out there.

10. Best “Green” schools: Check out this list by the Princeton Review of the top schools in the country for environmentalists and those who drive a Prius. It’s probably no surprise that the No. 1 school is in Portland, Ore. Here’s the Top 5:

  • Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Ore.
  • Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vt.
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • State University of New York, Stony Brook University
  • Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa.

9. Best College Dorms: For most freshmen students, living in a dorm can be one of the most memorable experiences of their college career. For good and bad. This list, from Niche, gives the top spot to Washington University of St. Louis. Here’s the Top 5:

  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine
  • Regent University, Virginia Beach, Va.
  • High Point University, High Point, N.C.
  • Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

8. Best College Traditions: The students at Northwestern gather three times a year to relieve their collective stress by screaming at the top of their lungs. Makes sense. Whatever happened to old fashioned streaking? This is a list from Unigo of schools with unusual traditions. The Top 5:

  • Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va. — For its annual Cadet vs. Civilian Snowball Fight.
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. — For “Dragon Day,” a costumed parade with a giant model dragon that is ultimately set ablaze “in the midst of a reveling student body.”
  • Reed College, Portland, Ore. — For its Annual Nitrogen Day (celebrating the seventh element of the periodic table) and Renn Fayre, a renaissance festival that includes seniors burning their thesis notes.
  • Barnard College, New York — For its food traditions, including the annual Midnight Breakfast and consumption of “the big sub,” which stretches across campus and grows a foot a year. It’s now more than a mile long.
  • University of Colorado Boulder — For its 4/20 marijuana celebration.

7. Best College Radio Stations: A good college radio station has the ability to reflect the eclectic tastes and culture of a campus. Who hasn’t been awake at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday listening to an amateur DJ spin an obscure band you’ve never heard of but is all the rage on Pitchfork? Know what I mean? No? Ok. Here’s the list, from The Top 5:

  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Florida State University
  • Rutgers University, New Brunswick

6. Best College Bars: On many campuses, the most popular off-campus hangouts are the local watering holes. Here’s a ranking of the best college bars, according to Buzzfeed. The Top 10:

  • Harry’s Chocolate Shop, Purdue University
  • The Boot, Tulane University
  • Kam’s, University of Illinois Urabana-Champaign
  • The Olive Branch, Rutgers
  • The Kollege Klub, University of Wisconsin
  • Good Time Charley’s, University of Michigan
  • Kilroy’s on Kirkwood, Indiana University
  • Gallettes, University of Alabama
  • The Dixie Chicken, Texas A&M University
  • Lonnie’s Western Room, Vanderbilt University

5. Best Party Schools: Playboy magazine has long ranked schools with the best parties, choosing schools for their “access to nightlife and musical events, and creativity when planning social gatherings” along with a poll. Here’s the magazine’s list, with a link — via TIME — that is safe for work. Here’s the Top 10 from 2015:

  • Ohio University
  • University of Iowa
  • Florida State University
  • Tulane University
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Texas
  • Syracuse University
  • University of Wisconsin
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Michigan

3. Best Colleges for Republicans And Democrats (Tie): It’s an election year. Haven’t you heard? For those students who are grounded in their own political beliefs, here are two lists that represent schools most welcoming to the two major parties (no not those parties — see above — the other kind.) The top colleges for “conservative values” list comes via Newsmax, while the “most liberal colleges” list comes from Niche.

The Top 5 Most Conservative:

  • Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Mich.
  • Christendom College, Front Royal, Va.
  • Grove City College, Grove City, Pa.
  • College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Mo.
  • Biola University, La Mirada, Calif.

The Top 5 Most Liberal:

  • Evergreen State College, Olympia, Wash.
  • Carleton College, Northfield, Minn.
  • Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa.
  • Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa
  • Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley Town, Mass.

2. Best College Food: There’s only one thing college students love more than beer: Food. Some colleges serve slop. Others offer Filet Mignon. So this list, from Princeton Review, is in the No. 2 spot because of its importance to college students. The Top 10:

  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • Bowdoin College
  • Cornell University
  • Virginia Tech
  • St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn.
  • College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine
  • James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.
  • Saint Anselm College, Manchester, N.H.
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

1. Best College Libraries: This list ranks No. 1 because there’s no better place on campus than the college library. Let’s be honest: we all spent too much time there and not enough at all. The Top 10, from

  • Cook Legal Research Library, University of Michigan
  • William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library, Ohio State University
  • Linderman Library, Lehigh University
  • Hale Library, Kansas State University
  • Walter C. Langsam Library, University of Cincinnati
  • Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia
  • University Libraries, Michigan State University
  • William R. Perkins Library, Duke University
  • Klarchek Information Commons, Loyola University of Chicago
  • Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library, Harvard University