It’s that time of year – college campuses across the nation are buzzing with the anticipation of the season’s first home football game. That’s right, homecoming is upon us once again!
As I’ve mused before, being a super senior comes with its decent amount of benefits and drawbacks, one of which is the lingering knowledge that everything you do will be for the last time. While I cannot recommend you be that person who shares each one of their “lasts” via social media, I must stress the importance of recognizing each milestone, as they can pass you by without you getting a chance to appreciate them. That’s why, for my final homecoming as an undergraduate, I’ve decided to reflect on why this time of year is, without a doubt, the best part of the fall semester.
Everyone on campus and in the community is buzzing with the excitement of homecoming week. School spirit is at an all-time high, and everyone partakes in the revelries. From Greek houses, to on-campus clubs, to local businesses and sponsors, homecoming provides an opportunity for the community to join together in celebration of what makes your university so amazing. No one wants to miss out on the fun, and for this one week in time, even the biggest on-campus rivals can unite in agreement on one indisputable truth: that your school is the best.
There is something for everyone to enjoy during the week-long celebration of homecoming. Between bonfires, homecoming court, undie runs, Greek competitions, carnivals, dances, rallies, concerts, picnics, and parades, each university offers its own unique set of traditions that its fans, young and old, hold dear to their hearts. The annual fete is a chance for students, parents, alumni, administration, and local fans to bond over the university’s legacy.
Whether you’re a freshman experiencing these traditions for the very first time, or an 80-year-old alumnus reprising the rituals of your youth, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed with pride as you sing your school’s fight song and watch its colors fly. With each nod and “Go Pack!” or “Roll Tide!” you exchange, you recognize the ineffable bond you share with the past, present, and future generations of students – that you are all one in the same.
Besides sharing tried and true traditions with undergraduates, alumni are notorious for sharing their crazy memories, while simultaneously creating new ones. Homecoming offers the perfect outlet for alumni from far and wide to escape their realities and relive their glory days. Something happens when alumni, new and old, return to their alma maters: they revert into former versions of themselves and attempt to make up for lost time during one condensed, alcohol-fueled, weekend-long bender.
Put yourselves in their shoes: you’ve just stepped foot onto your old stomping grounds and are immediately welcomed by a crowd of familiar faces. Remember, this isn’t just a reunion between undergraduates and alumni; it’s a reunion between the alumni themselves. Add a few boozy brunches and a beer bong or six on top of that nostalgic excitement, and you have a recipe for a successful homecoming.
As an undergraduate, homecoming is inevitably a time when you will mingle with an assortment of eccentric alumni, from the quarterback’s father, to your friend’s 60-year-old uncle who was in your campus’ secret society, to a local celebrity who occupies your dream job. Whether you share a few laughs, a drink, or an intellectual conversation with those you meet, be sure to take advantage of the wisdom they have to offer you.
Shake their hands. Ask what it was like back in “the good ‘ole days,” even if the person you’re talking to only graduated last year. Network and seek advice from those who have been in your shoes, and whose shoes you would like to one day fill. Above all, have fun. Catch up with old friends and make new ones. Listen to the alumni’s stories. And, for the love of all that is honorable, if they hand you a beer, don’t even think twice before piercing a hole and shotgunning it like the champion you are.
Similar to alumni, parents make great additions to your university’s homecoming festivities, especially if they are alumni themselves. Even if they aren’t, many parents attend their college student’s homecoming game, which is why fraternities and sororities often align their parents’ weekend with homecoming.
Although it may seem like a buzz kill to have your parents around, it can actually be a blessing. For many students, homecoming marks the first time since the beginning of the semester when they see their parents, who have been deprived of someone to spoil for several weeks. They’re dying just to visit, see how you’re living, and shower you with compliments, gifts, and food that wasn’t heated in a 500-watt microwave. This is your chance to show your parents how well you’ve adjusted to college life, or at least to hide your dirty laundry and burrito wrappers long enough to convince them that you have.
Last, but certainly not least, is the quintessential element off which all other aspects of homecoming are based: football.
This grand American tradition is what makes homecoming possible in the first place. No matter the opponent, the weather, or the outcome, there is nothing like coming together on a Saturday afternoon in the fall to cheer on your favorite team with good friends and cold beers. Because homecoming marks the first home football game of the season, you are guaranteed excitement as you root on your team to a coveted victory.
And let us not forget, that where there is football, there is a tailgate party nearby.
This year, may you take pride in your university, revel with friends, old and new, and may your school’s team lead its way to victory.
What are your favorite school traditions? Tweet me a picture from your university’s homecoming festivities and I might retweet you!