WORK HARD, PLAY HARD: The 20 Most Intense Colleges In America

University of michiganGetty ImagesThe University of Michigan is one of the top schools where students work hard and play hard.

College is about balance — yes, it’s important to take your classes seriously, but it’s equally as necessary to cut loose and have fun during your undergraduate years.

Business Insider has created a list of schools that best embody this dual principle — the “work hard, play hard” mentality that many students look for. We found that there was no typical “work hard, play hard” school, and everything from liberal arts colleges to Ivy League universities to large state schools are represented in the following ranking.

To compile this list, we used data from Niche, looking at its rankings of the best party schools and schools with the best academics, smartest students, best Greek life. Niche’s college section — College Prowler — features close to 1 million in-depth student reviews on more than 8,000 schools.

We’ve included a few quotes from each school’s Niche profile in our ranking to help illustrate what the student body is like.

#19 University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California

'You can find any type of person at one of USC's parties. As long as you are a Trojan, there is no discrimination. Everybody comes together to enjoy the night.'

'USC is the best academically successful party school.'

Visit Niche for more on the University of Southern California.

#18 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Urbana and Champaign, Illinois

'The social party scene is top notch and everyone always has a great time. Students are also responsible and know when enough is enough. The bars are always a great place to be to be social and most events occur there.'

'The program is great and the advisers and professors are very knowledgeable. The workload is definitely not easy, but my motto is always 'work hard and play hard'. There are many diverse internship options for students.'

Visit Niche for more on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

#17 University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

'Fun for all students. There is always something to do, even if that means simply going to the party next door or down the street.'

'The parties on campus are usually the best on Thursday nights. But taking you to the clubs in Hollywood or other hotspots in L.A. is a lot of fun. They provide buses that take students to and from the dorm area. It's safe.'

Visit Niche for more on the University of California, Los Angeles.

#16 Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, Georgia

'There are 31 fraternity house on campus, so during most weekends at least one of them is throwing a big party. Each person likes a different vibe at different frat houses and it takes time to see where someone fits in best. The parties are a nice stress reliever, after worrying about turning in assignments and studying for tests dancing and talking to other people becomes a necessity.'

'I think the greatest thing about nightlife at our school is that its really up to the student to decide, if you want to party and drink, you can find it, for sure. If you don't, however, no one would judge you for staying in and not wanting to go out.'

Visit Niche for more on the Georgia Institute of Technology.

#15 College of William & Mary

Williamsburg, Virginia

'William & Mary is a sleeper party school. The frats throw parties pretty much every weekend, which are usually open to all, and people regularly go out to them from Thursday-Saturday night, however ... (the) best parties are usually off-campus, rather they be independent house parties thrown by clubs or parties thrown by off-campus fraternities.'

'There is a good party scene at William and Mary, but we are no means a party school. We know how to have fun, but it is reasonable and not excessive.'

Visit Niche for more on the College of William & Mary.

#14 Georgetown University

Washington, DC

'The Perfect Balance -- Because Georgetown doesn't have any official affiliation with Greek life, it doesn't dominate campus social life like it does at many other schools. Because of this, sports teams and even clubs will often throw house parties (none of which you have to pay to get into). Area clubs will also have 18 and over events with great dancing (the downside being that you'll generally have to pay a cover fee). Georgetown is a super fun area to be in , and if you're looking to go out on the weekend you will find no shortage of options!'

'Partying every weekend is the norm. Drinking usually begins on Thursday and goes until Saturday, although most people do not go out every night'

Visit Niche for more on Georgetown University.

#12 Washington & Lee University

Lexington, Virginia

'Parties at least four times a week, either at fraternity houses or houses owned by fraternities. They often have bands or djs. There is a small bar/club scene, but the nightlife we have is so satisfying, I've never heard anyone complain.'

'The workload is pretty substantial, the academics are rigorous, and the professors are demanding, but they make it entirely worth the while. The opportunities students have to interact with the faculty both in and out of class are astounding.'

Visit Niche for more on Washington & Lee University.

#11 Lehigh University

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

'You always have the option of going out any day of the week which is great when you need to blow off some steam from class.'

'Lehigh has many parties at Fraternities or off-campus houses that take place every night of the week ... Upperclassmen students will frequent bars ... It's a work hard play hard atmosphere.'

Visit Niche for more on Lehigh University.

#10 University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

'The party scene is great and there are a variety of options for students. Greek life is rather large on campus and is a nice way to meet people. Club sports are also very active as well as other organisations. There are always a lot of parties during the year but syllabus week has something at least every night.'

'No matter what your scene is, there is something to do almost everyday of the week ... Maybe the only downside to nightlife is that it never dies down ... There is always a distraction from studies.'

Visit Niche for more on the University of Michigan.

#9 Dartmouth College

Hanover, New Hampshire

'Very prevalent Greek system but its different than at most schools. Basically all parties are in the frats with a few small parties in off campus houses. All frats are open to anyone with a student ID though and the atmosphere is generally more accepting than what I have seen at other schools. Nights out basically consist of pong (with paddles) or dance parties. There are great parties but if that's not your thing there are also lots of other options and I have never felt much peer pressure. Overall, a very positive experience.'

'We study hard and party hard. During exams, there are no parties to be found. Every other night, there will be SOMETHING happening -- it also goes without saying that every frat will have some pong in its basement or at least some guys chilling.'

Visit Niche for more on Dartmouth College.

#8 Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

'The parties tend to be on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights as most people tend to study on weeknights. However during the week people tend to hang out in smaller groups with their closer friends. I like how you have both options throughout the week.'

'It's an Ivy-league school with a reputation to match. The lecturers are great, the homework is challenging. They want you to think. They want you to work hard. I think they want you to learn.'

Visit Niche for more on Cornell University.

#7 Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

'Every weekend on Friday and Saturday there is guaranteed to be at least a couple big dorm parties. These are open to usually friends and their friends, suitemates, etc. Yalies are very welcoming and love to open doors to each other's company.'

'Great academics, possibilities and there is a lot of support. The competitive nature and the GPA system can be overwhelming but still yield the best results.'

Visit Niche for more on Yale University.

#5 Stanford University

Stanford, California

'There are regularly frat parties and events sponsored by Cardinal Nights, which provide an alternative to drinking on weekends; however, if neither of those is your scene, Stanford students still know how to make weekend nights worthwhile. Find some friends and get creative or look long enough and you'll find something fun to do.'

'Stanford is simply the best school in the world. The academics are top notch, and even though it's hard, it's worth it.'

Visit Niche for more on Stanford University.

#4 University of Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

'Typical weekends start on Thursday and end on Sunday. If you wanted to, you could party every day of the week. As first-years frats are the major scene, which slowly turns into visiting the local bars by the end of first-year and into second and beyond. UVA is the only school I know that has a party in the summer when everyone comes back for one weekend, called 'midsummers.''

'Academics are definitely a strong point at UVA. Professors are extremely knowledgeable and, for the most part, willing to help. While students know how to have fun, academics never suffer and are understood to be a priority. There is a strong competitive atmosphere when it comes to academics and achieving a 4.0 is sought after, but extremely difficult because of the high calibre of the classes. It's not ranked one of the top public schools in the nation for nothing, UVA deserves all the recognition it gets!'

Visit Niche for more on the University of Virginia.

#2 Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

'Nashville is amazing for night life. Students usually start the night on Greek Row and then go to bars in midtown or downtown. Never boring, so many options, so much fun.'

'By far, the best nightlife of any of the top 20 academic schools and arguably most colleges in general.'

Visit Niche for more on Vanderbilt University.

#1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts

'MIT frat and dorm parties are huge on the social scene. Kids from all over Boston and Cambridge come to our parties. Pub nights and parties are going on Wednesday-Saturday nights and fill up quickly. Frat parties are basically the only big parties that go on, besides the occasional East Campus party.'

'We have several mottos at MIT: 'IHTFP,' 'Work hard, play harder,' 'Sleep is for the weak.' Take what you want from each, but with this attitude, you are bound to enjoy some sort of nightlife on and around campus. Be it a late-night psetting-(doing a problem set) turned-beeriocart session, or chairing race through the tunnels, or your typical frat rager (at one of our 25 fraternities housed in brownstone mansions), there are always people looking to have a good time. Unfortunately, there is often so much to do on campus (be it work or play), you forget there are some 70 other universities in the area, not to mention bars and clubs. And even when I venture out of the MIT bubble, I always return cause you just can't party like us nerds ;)'

Visit Niche for more on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Want to check out some more schools that know how to have a good time?

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