5 Colleges with Fun Spring Traditions

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

AdobeStock_279132931Spring ushers in new beginnings and high school senior rites-of-passage, such as prom and graduation. Fortunately, many colleges and universities also have deeply rooted traditions celebrating the end of winter, the new life of spring, and the campus community.

One of the fun aspects of researching colleges is to learn about their unique traditions, such as the fun ways these five schools celebrate spring.

Carnegie Mellon University: Pittsburgh, PA

As the oldest tradition at Carnegie Mellon University, the annual Spring Carnival is not to be missed. Students enjoy three days of festivities, which include carnival rides, food, and numerous competitions. Students, faculty, alumni, and Pittsburgh-area families are invited to attend.

The most famous of the Spring Carnival events is the Buggy Sweepstakes, a cart race around campus. The Sweepstakes, which began in 1920, requires students to race “buggies” — aerodynamic cylinders designed and built by student groups during the year, which are pushed or driven throughout campus. Buggies have no power source, and even though they are required to have brakes, they are rarely used. During the race, buggies often reach speeds of 35 MPH.

The “Midway,” or the carnival-like portion of the event, includes free games and booths created by students. The construction and presentation of the booths is a competition itself, with each booth judged on various criteria.

Carnegie Mellon, founded in 1900, is a private research university with an undergraduate enrollment of over 7,500.

Cornell University: Ithaca, NY

One of the oldest collegiate spring traditions is Dragon Day at Cornell University. Started around 1901, Dragon Day is held every spring either on St. Patrick’s Day or immediately before Spring Break, whichever comes first.

What was traditionally a celebration of the College of Architecture is now one of the most popular Cornell University traditions and signifies a deep rivalry between the architecture and engineering students. Since its beginning at the start of the 20th century, Dragon Day has evolved from the first burning of the dragon to a more symbolic battle between the creations by architecture and engineering students.

For Dragon Day, first-year students from the College of Architecture construct a giant dragon, which is then paraded through campus to the Arts Quad with an army of students dressed in outrageous costumes. Once it reaches its destination, the dragon is met with a phoenix, created by rival engineering students, and a great battle ensues.

Founded in 1865, Cornell University is a private, Ivy League university with over 16,000 undergraduates. Learn how to get into Cornell.

College of William & Mary: Williamsburg, VA

To celebrate the end of the school year and the accomplishments of graduating seniors, the College of William & Mary pulls out all the stops for the annual Last Day of Classes (LDOC) tradition.

On the last day of classes, seniors are invited to ring the Wren Bell after their final class. This tradition marks the end of students’ undergraduate careers and kicks off the rest of LDOC festivities, which include a huge party complete with live bands, food, and games for all students in the Sunken Garden. The celebration is then capped off with late-night pancakes.

Chartered in 1693, the College of William & Mary is a public research university with an undergraduate enrollment of nearly 7,000 students.

Indiana University: Bloomington, IN

Inspired by the Indianapolis 500, the Little 500 at Indiana University is the largest collegiate bicycle race in the nation. Known as “The World’s Greatest College Weekend,” this event, which began in 1951, takes place each April and draws more than 25,000 attendees annually. IU students compete in four-person cycling teams, racing around the quarter-mile track at Bill Armstrong Stadium — 200 laps for the men and 100 for the women.

The crowds are known for being especially raucous during the race. However, the Little 500 is so much more than the race — attendees enjoy celebrity appearances, a concert, giveaways, block parties, and tailgates. Part of the proceeds from ticket sales support the Students Helping Students Campaign, which promotes wellness spaces on IU’s campus.

Founded as a seminary in 1820, Indiana University is a large public research university with an enrollment of nearly 37,000 undergraduates.

New York University: New York, NY

For almost 40 years, students and faculty at New York University have gathered behind Bobst Library to celebrate spring and the NYU community with one of the most unique, and delicious, traditions: the Strawberry Festival. This event takes place for one evening each year, usually in early May.

This arts and music festival is open to the public and features games, raffles, entertainment, food, and live music. The main attraction, however, is the 160-foot strawberry shortcake — the longest in New York City! Festival goers wait in line for a slice of this impressive cake; kosher and vegan options are also available for those with dietary restrictions.

NYU is a private research university located in the heart of New York City. With an undergraduate enrollment of almost 30,000, NYU is one of the largest private universities in the U.S.

You can find numerous schools across the U.S. that celebrate great spring traditions, including Barnard College, Rollins College, UCLA, and Washington University in St. Louis. For more information on traditions, campus culture, and student life at the schools you’re interested in, contact us today for information on our research services!


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