Editorial: UI isn’t limited to being a party school

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

Dear parents of Prospective UI students:

Over the summer, the Princeton Review selected the University as the No. 1 party school in the country. This ranking comes after a few years bouncing around their top-10 list, but for the first time, Illinois is at the top.

Even though this may seem daunting, don’t be afraid of this ranking.

Our university, like most other universities, has people that like to party, but it also has one of the top engineering programs in the world. It’s one of the best agricultural sciences schools. It has world-leading researchers in dozens of fields. It’s a great place for academia, athletics and social-life.

We understand why the University administration has spoken out against this ranking; we similarly don’t want our University’s image to be limited to that of a giant keg party. But we don’t think that people solely see the University this way — either internally or externally.

We know, of course, that people party on campus. That’s a given at any school of this size, especially one with campus bars that admit 19 year olds. But we don’t submit to the belief that partying negatively affects the University. Most people who go out during the week often still make it to their classes the next day. And further, engaging in a party atmosphere doesn’t inhibit any student from also being a diligent student.

The bars may be busy during an average weekend, but before exams — and often during much of the rest of the school year — there’s nowhere busier than the University’s libraries.

It’s OK to acknowledge that University students drink and a party culture exists here. We are a massive Big Ten university like Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Indiana, all of which are places with similar partying atmospheres. There are people everywhere who go to college to get away from their parents and their hometowns and party too much.

But our University isn’t a big Animal House — for it to be thought of that way would be laughable — and this ranking will pass.

People who matter — especially those who hire recent college graduates — don’t seem to be deterred by any party school reputation.

In 2010, UI was ranked No. 3 on Wall Street Journal’s list of colleges as ranked by job recruiters. That is the kind of ranking that’s key — even five years ago — because college is four years of school that should eventually lead to a job.

So prospective parent, don’t worry, at least not any more than you would about your child going off to college.

The No. 1 Party School ranking isn’t worth your time. Illinois isn’t a one-dimensional place and if your child wants to come here, his or her experience will be far more than a party experience.