anne_mikolay_120The Best 371 Colleges – 2010 Edition, recently released by the Princeton Review, has named the top “party schools” in the country. They are: 1. Penn State University, State College, Pa. 2. University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla. 3. University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss. 4. University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 5. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 6. West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va. 7. University of Texas, Austin, Texas 8. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.9. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla. 10. University of California-Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, Calif. 11. University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo. 12. University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 13. Union College, Schenectady, N.Y. 14. Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind. 15. DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind. 16. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn. 17. Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn. 18. University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D. 19. Tulane University, New Orleans, La. 20. Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.

The survey, though hardly empirical (students responded to an online Princeton Review questionnaire), paints parents a rather bleak picture of college-bound teenagers. But...so what? Let's be realistic. Regardless of the school chosen, if your kid wants to find a party...he/she will find it. If your kid is level-headed, academically oriented, he/she will fore-go the party scene, and crack the books instead.  It all depends on why the kid is going off to college in the first place.

Lots of kids pack their bags for college simply to get away from home, out from underneath the perennial parental thumb. I had a friend who was thrilled when her daughter was accepted to Rider University, and not so thrilled when the girl concentrated more on the campus social scene than academics, and flunked out. Contrast that girl's motivation with my nephew's fiancé, a Rutgers University graduate. While the Princeton Review casts Rutgers in an unfavorable light, reporting that Rutgers'  respondents ranked the school high in alcohol and low in academics, my nephew's fiancé  focused entirely on her studies, an admirable endeavor rewarded by a prestigious graduate program and a recent doctorate from Princeton University, and more importantly in today's environment, employment as a professor at The College of New Jersey.

Motivation is the key to success at any college. A kid who wants to learn, to experience, to mature, will seize every opportunity in his/her academic environment to do so. A kid who wants to party will nurse a four year hangover, and graduate – if he/she graduates at all – no more intelligent or mature than when he/she arrived on campus. Case in point: In its Tuesday, July 28th, edition, The Asbury Park Press quoted one Rutgers respondent to the Princeton Review survey as stating: “If there was no such thing as getting inebriated, there would be nothing to do here.” That has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Whoever said that, and believed it, is an idiot who unwittingly proved my point, which is perfectly summarized in the slogan of the United Negro College Fund: “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”