College Nightlife

What kind of nightlife does college offer? Find out where to hang out and party at schools across the nation.

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Nightlife may seem like a distraction, but it’s an essential part of any college experience. Studying can be exhausting, and nothing recharges your batteries like a fun night out. Whether your scene is clubs and bars or concert halls and theaters, it’s important to find time to get out of your room, leave your books behind, and enjoy yourself.

Hitting the Town: Bars, Concerts, and Other Off-Campus Fun

Once the weekend hits, most students like to get away from the studious environment at campus. Exploring off-campus areas is a great way to do this. Off-campus nightlife can be vibrant, diverse and fun, especially if your school is located in a city.

College nightlife is great, but wherever your evening takes you, remember your number one priority: safety.

If you’re over 21 and like a loud and bustling scene, check out the local bars and clubs. Even small towns are likely to have a college hangout or two. You don’t necessarily have to drink to enjoy places like this, either: dancing, live music, karaoke and billiards could be available, depending on the venue.

Plays, movies, and concerts are all great options for a quieter night out. Look for an events calendar in a local newspaper and you’ll be surprised how much is going on. College nightlife isn’t just about partying at clubs. If you’re in the right mood, a night at the opera or a gallery opening can be just as enjoyable.

House Parties and the Campus Scene

At some colleges, most of the nightlife happens on campus. This is usually the case with smaller schools in sleepy towns. For example, Hope College compensates for the lack of nightlife in Holland, Mich., with a wild Greek life.

On-campus fun isn’t limited to small-town colleges. Located in the large and vibrant city of Dallas, Southern Methodist University is known for its excellent Greek life. At SMU, every Saturday is “fraterday.” Students devote the day to partying and relaxation.

If you’re not into the frat scene, house parties present an alternative party environment. There are also plenty of school-sponsored opportunities for late-night fun. Most colleges offer mixers, concerts and dance marathons for students looking for safe, alcohol-free fun.

Keep in mind, though, that going to a Christian school doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t encounter alcohol. Hope College and SMU are both Christian colleges, and there’s plenty of social life at both.

The Best Cities for Nightlife

For night owls and party people, being in a great city can have a huge impact on which college you end up choosing. Here are some of the cities with the most lively, interesting nightlifes.

  • New York

It shouldn’t be a surprise to see the city that never sleeps on this list. New York is one of the most diverse, energetic and unique cities in the world, and is without a doubt the best option for nightlife.

Local Colleges: New York University, Manhattan College, Columbia University

  • Austin, Texas

Austin is a dream city for party enthusiasts. The music scene is second to none, and the rowdy garage rock that Austin has become known for is indicative of one of the best bar scenes in the country. Head over to East 6th for some wild times.

Local Colleges: University of Texas, Austin Community College, St. Edward’s University

  • Chicago

Chicago is a great option for students who like the diversity and excitement of New York City, but want it in a smaller, more manageable package. (But don’t tell that to a Chicagoan.) With world-class galleries, music venues, theaters and clubs, Chicago has something for everyone.

Local Colleges: DePaul University, University of Chicago, Columbia College

  • Boston

Boston is for lovers. Lovers of sports, that is. In the 2000s, Boston teams won a combined seven championships, making it the most successful decade in pro sports for any single city. Boston teams have won championships in all four major pro sports this century, most recently hockey’s Bruins. But if sports aren’t your thing, there’s plenty of other stuff going on: great music, great bars, and more.

Local Colleges: Northeastern University, Berklee College of Music, Boston College

  • Montreal

It’s not just for Francophiles. Montreal is a gorgeous city with a vibrant and rich culture, and the nightlife is as fun and eclectic as you’d expect. The music scene is especially strong, with an ear for art rock in particular. The Dears, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Arcade Fire all call Montreal home, as well as up-and-coming bands such as Braids and The Luyas.

Local Colleges: McGill University, Dawson College, College de Montreal

Safety and Responsibility

College nightlife is great, but wherever your evening takes you, remember your number one priority: safety. Alcohol poisoning, car accidents and street crime are among the many dangers that college students face on a night out. Be conscious, safe, and responsible, and you’ll never have a bad night.

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