The Princeton Review’s annual listing of the top colleges in the country has moved Iowa up from number two to number one in the category or party schools — though a university spokesman says the ranking doesn’t make sense. The rankings are based on surveys done of students, which U-I spokesman Tom Moore says doesn’t seem to match up with the information the university collects.
“Well, it’s a bit puzzling quite honestly. It seems counterintuitive because this information seems to be diametrically opposed to the information we’re hearing and receiving from out students,” Moore says. The Princeton Review also had Iowa ranked number one in “lots of hard liquor” and number four in two categories: “students study the least” and “lots of beer,”
Moore says the effort to curb problem drinking has been a cooperative one between the university and officials in Iowa City who instituted an ordinance the prevents underage students in bars. “Over the past three years, we’ve had the ’21 only ordinance’ here in our community, and even so, over the last three years it seems like these party school rankings have increase each year,” Moore says.
“So it seems to be a disconnect where these things just don’t quite match up.” Moore says they’ve used efforts to prevent alcohol abuse based on research studies that show the best way to reach out to students.
“One of the key things we’re doing is to trying to educate the incoming students. Before they show up on campus we require them to take an on-line course that has alcohol education and information available in there. And the key there is to try and give them tools for coping successfully with their college experience. And one of those things is only consuming alcohol in a legal, safe and responsible manner. So, we think that is having an affect,” Moore explains.
The Princeton Review ranking could make parents think twice about sending their kids to the school. Moore says if that’s the case, anyone can talk to university officials and they can see the results of the surveys done by the school.
“We’re seeing declines in high-risk drinking behavior and alcohol consumption across campus — anywhere from 10 to 25 percent in all categories. So those trends appear to be heading in a very positive direction,” Moore says. “We clearly still have work to do, but we are making progress. The other key thing is that our enrollment continues to go up. So, I think is this was something that was a deterrent that would have an impact on enrollment. So far it does not seem to have any impact at all.”
Moore says the information in the Princeton Review where it quotes student comments shows some very positive things about the Iowa City school. “They talk about having a Big Ten university full of exciting opportunities with a small-college feel. Having other activities that don’t involve alcohol consumption that are available to them,” Moore points out. “I think one undergraduate student summed it up very well when she says ‘the University of Iowa is a platform to launch yourself to the top of your field at an affordable price.’”
He also points out the U-I rates favorably on numerous other rankings, including being “Best Buy,” being one of the most green, or sustainable campuses, and having numerous outstanding programs, such as its Writers’ Workshop, speech and hearing program, and health care majors.