ATHENS, Ga. - University of Georgia sophomore Sarah Walsh spent most of her down time last week studying for a biology test so that she could help a couple of friends celebrate their 21st birthdays over the weekend.
"I've been studying all week, and I'm sure it's gonna get worse," Ms. Walsh said Friday afternoon while poring over her textbook, marked up with highlighter. "I'd rather be sleeping than going out."
Ms. Walsh said she tries to maintain a social life along with her studies, but unlike the students who contribute to UGA's high "Party School" ranking in Princeton Review's 2008 366 Best Colleges book, the two parties she attended were two more than what's normally on her weekly social calendar.
Princeton Review bases the "Party School" rankings on how many hours students at each of the 366 schools say they spend studying and how popular they think alcohol, drugs, fraternities and sororities are on campus.
The Princeton Review recruits students for the survey on which it bases the rankings by asking universities to invite students to participate, asking student newspapers to announce the survey and advertising the survey in Princeton Review publications, said Jeanne Krier, Princeton Review publicist.
UGA's party school ranking jumped from No. 12 last year to No. 5 this year, during a time when UGA officials have been trying to increase academic rigor on campus, crack down on students' alcohol consumption and overcome a long-standing reputation among students that the university is the place to work hard to get into and party once they get here.
The subject of the UGA "Party School" ranking came up in Ms. Walsh's statistics class last week, drawing skepticism from both students and the instructor, she said.
"The rankings seem kind of arbitrary to me," Ms. Walsh said. "I don't understand why it would change so abruptly."
UGA also made it into the top 15 for how popular students find intercollegiate and intramural sports, fraternity and sorority life, the student newspaper, campus food service and hard liquor.
Jere Morehead, UGA's vice president for instruction, said he has "grave doubts" about Princeton Review's ranking methodology but acknowledged that it shouldn't be completely brushed off.