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DC’s Top Party Schools

DC’s Top Party Schools

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Post Date: May 05, 2012

The Biggest Party Schools in the DC Area

Going for a little more party and a little less study? Check out the top schools in the area, where students take full advantage of DC nightlife and the campus party scene!

Each year, colleges in America are ranked, most popularly by the Princeton Review or Playboy Magazine. Currently, Ohio University is the #1 party school in America. Southern schools, unsurprisingly, like University of Georgia, University of Mississippi, Florida State University, University of Florida, and University of Texas all came in strong. The University of Maryland also made this year’s list, giving the area a sense of local pride.

Since our very own University of Maryland made the list, we thought we’d dig a little deeper into the hard partying ways of colleges and universities in the DC, Maryland, and Virgina area.

Who are the local party monsters? Check out the list below!

University of Maryland

Univeristy of MarylandDowntown College Park is home to just a handful of bars and there’s no longer bars on campus. It’s a good thing so many DC nightclubs are close by! As for parties for UMD on Fraternity Row, times have changed: alcohol-focused parties are fading and campus police seems to be cracking down on on-campus revelries.

This is where living off campus comes in handy for students who crave alcohol and parties, where students turn their homes and backyards into nightlife hotspots.

Like all big state schools, football season also brings massive tailgates and parties all across town.

James Madison

James MadisonIn 2009, Playboy ranked JMU as the 22nd Best Party School in the nation. 

Tucked into the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia, James Madison University was founded as a women’s college.  So, boys flock there to take advantage of the Male / Female ratio: 40 % / 60% party scene.

You can be a little picky, since there’s plenty of bars in town. But if the nightclub scene is what you’re thirsting for, DC is just a couple hours away.

Creativity and a low budget is the key to having a good time in Harrisonburg, VA where house parties are the norm and students get down with kids from neighboring schools.

University of Virginia

UVAThere is hardly a club scene in Charlottesville, but a handful of spots offer a dance party/club-like experience. The bars that University of Virginia students frequent are, for the most part, located along the Corner and are host to crazy drink specials.

Sometimes these bars feel just like the frat parties, though, simply transplanted into a bar setting.The bars along the Downtown Mall seem more grown-up and attract grad students.

The typical evolution of a student’s nightlife entertainment is to go to frat parties or organization parties for the first two years and then to hit up bars along the Corner later on.

Virginia Tech

VTThe town of Blacksburg provides various nightlife choices for students. Downtown Blacksburg consists mainly of bars.  Unfortunately, since Blacksburg is so small and downtown is only two blocks long, it doesn’t take too much time to check out all the bars and clubs.

There are always apartment and house parties going on, many thrown by fraternities in Oak Lane.

Throughout the year, Virginia Tech also brings all kinds of entertainment to campus, including comedians, bands, plays, hypnotists, and classical music. Sometimes student organizations have weekend dance or concert events.

Towson University

TowsonTowson University is a bar school where students often see on-campus promotions for nearby clubs or bars almost about every day of the week.

What makes Towson’s nightlife so great is that there are so many different bars to choose from that the scene does not get old too soon. One can easily get away with pre-gaming and stumbling out to the uptown bars, which are within walking distance from campus.

Due to the abundance of bar scene options, the house parties are usually lacking. While there are tremendous parties (think TigerFest), they tend to be held more often when the weather is nice.

George Washington

Because George Washington University is located in the city of Washington, DC, off-campus bars are often as much a part of the social scene as on-campus parties.

Party nights are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. GW traditionally has offered fewer Friday classes and students capitalize on this by going out late on Thursday evenings.

With so many options to explore, GW students often find themselves carving out their own stomping grounds. The city offers top-notch nightlife, so whether you’re looking for a loud bar, a late-night nightclub, or more exclusive lounge, everyone will find something for them.

George Mason

GMUThough George Mason isn’t your stereotypical party school, there are some cool local bars for students 21 and up. Since Fairfax, VA is close to DC, there are also plenty of options for students who aren’t of age. Check out DC’s hookah bars, comedy clubs, and nightlife 18 and over.

The week after move-in, frat bros can be found around the freshmen housing areas picking out the hot freshmen to invite to their parties.

Plus, the frat rushes provide safe rides for party attendees from campus.


GeorgetownThe Georgetown Univeristy Hoyas are generous with their praise for the local club and bar scene.

Every student has his or her favorite spot in Georgetown itself, but some of the most hallowed party grounds are located outside of Georgetown proper, where students can access a plethora of 18+ nightclubs.

On-campus parties are frequent and free. Indeed it is true: if you like to drink in crowded public places, Georgetown might just be the school for you. A final note — many Georgetown students don’t realize how lucky they are that nobody charges for house parties on campus; it’s sort of an unwritten rule that upperclassmen are expected to throw free parties for whoever wants to show up.

The downside of this system is that campus parties are notoriously overcrowded.

American University

Many students agree that there is something for everyone at American University, which is located in upper Northwest DC. Though the school’s population is relatively small and has fewer parties when compared to state schools, many students assert it’s worth it to be in DC.

Welcome Week is probably the most fun for nightlife around campus. There are open fraternity parties every night to take advantage of.

DC nightlife is active and exciting enough to wear the most energetic students out. The most interesting places require only a short Metro ride, though there are some spots in Tenleytown for AU students.



RadfordWhat Radford University in Southwest Virginia lacks in organized nightlife (such as bars and clubs), it makes up for it with plenty of house parties. Students involved in Greek life or club sports or who live off campus are the ones to know in order to attend a great party.

The parties are usually in basements or in houses off the main streets to prevent police involvement. Certain organizations will card and require a student ID because they don’t want freeloaders showing up from other schools or the high school in town.

Radford’s downtown nightlife is more suited for the 21-and-older crowd, but no matter your age, there is always a party to attend.

Catholic University

Catholic UniversitySimply stated: there is always a party at Catholic University of America.

Whether students are trying to throw a sneaky party in a dorm room or are making their way by the dozens to the many bars and clubs DC has to offer, the bottom line is that you can tell the weekend has arrived when CUA kids are stumbling around.

Thanks to the vast nightlife in DC, the possibilities for nighttime entertainment are limitless, whether students are 21 or not.

Howard University

HUWhen night falls and it’s time to get your party on, there are a few things to do on campus at Howard University.

Student organizations often host parties during the school year. Dancing and socializing are definitely big, and many students frequent local dance clubs like Love and Fur Nightclub.

Howard Homecoming occurs every year in the third week of October. Homecoming is a can’t-miss event and has been known to draw thousands of alumni and students from schools all over the country. Even if you’re not yet 21, you can still enjoy DC nightlife, because many of the clubs cater to those who are 18 and older on certain nights.

Check out our Guide to DC Nightlife 18 and Up Venues and America’s Top Party Schools of 2012!