Fall semester brings football, fall fashion, and homecoming. During my undergraduate tenure, homecoming was always a special time. During homecoming week the campus always came alive with different activities and brought alumni from near and far to liven the college town city during the weekends. Homecoming week for me as an undergrad was very busy. It included participating in various events but mostly prepping for alumni members of my sorority to come during the weekend and the infamous National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) step show. I remember always being told, “Homecoming is more enjoyable after you graduate”. Now, going into my third homecoming as an alumna, I understand what makes homecoming important.
Is homecoming just for alumni?
I’ve heard this before and I’d have to agree…somewhat. The idea behind homecoming is past students coming back home (assuming that you left and now you are returning). Now, even though I was busy during homecoming week as an undergrad, I still had a lot of fun. However, as an alum, homecoming has taken on a different meaning. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Not being around college friends for a long time makes the reunion sweet. And what makes it even sweeter is having that reunion at the place where you were first unified. I truly believe that the friends you make in college, will be your friends for a lifetime. Although I have met very good friends after leaving my undergraduate institution, my college friends (and others I met in college) will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s something about the bond you hold with people that were around you when you were becoming an adult, forming your own beliefs, making mistakes and learning from them, and going through different triumphs and trials that makes college friends sacred.
Homecoming isn’t just for alumni; it can be meaningful for undergraduates too. Undergraduates are able to see alumni come back, which gives an expectation of what to look forward to. For me, homecoming was also time to reunite with my siblings since we shared the legacy of going to the same school. It is time to increase school spirit, instill traditions, and even share with other family members or friends your love for your alma mater. Homecoming also provides undergraduates an example of how to continue to support and love their institution after the cap and gown.
You’re never too old to support homecoming in my opinion. So, yes, homecoming is ultimately for your old ass.
However, if you choose to partake in homecoming, please remember that things have changed since you were 21. You’ve gotten older. And it may not be that bad the first year after you graduate but every year after it just gets worse. Here’s four very short rules I have for homecoming:
1.) Have a plan – or not…but having some type of plan to see people will help you maximize your time. You only have two days, make it worthwhile.
2.) DON’T GO TO SLEEP AFTER TAILGATING. I did this last year. If you do, your homecoming is basically OVER. I know that pillow looks good…but don’t let the devil tempt you out having a good time and spending more time with good friends!
3.) Clubbin’ ain’t for everybody. If you’re anything like me, I was over clubbin’ when I was 21. In addition to not “clubbin’” anymore, the undergrad parties can definitely turn you off and make you feel like there is nothing else to do – primarily because you will not know anyone at the party (in regards to small, college towns). However, do not let that be the reason why you don’t attend homecoming; find out what else is going on. Honestly, all you need is some good people and good music (maybe some card games) to have a good time.
4.) Be prepared — Clothes, shoes, hair, eyebrows…EVERYTHING should be on point (or on ‘FLEEK’ as the young people say). Remember, reunions are the best time to look your best.
Lastly, attending homecoming is only ONE way to support your Alma Mater as an alumni. If you are looking for more ways show support (especially if you cannot attend homecoming) you can join the alumni association, support past organizations or sport teams, and keep in contact with college friends and schedule visits outside of homecoming to reunite.
Cheers to homecoming season! Southern Miss, I’m coming home!