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Dr. Kat’s List: Five Colleges with Fun Spring Traditions

Spring is often the mark of new beginnings, especially for high school students deciding where to go to college and college seniors wrapping up their undergraduate careers. Many colleges and universities have deep-rooted traditions that celebrate the end of winter, the new life of spring, and the student body as a whole.

From carnivals and fairs, to 100-year-old parades and senior rites-of-passage, here are Dr. Kat’s colleges with fun spring traditions!

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
As the oldest tradition at Carnegie Mellon University, the annual Spring Carnival is not to be missed. Students enjoy a four-day weekend during the festivities, which include carnival rides, food, and numerous competitions.

Students, faculty, alumni, and Pittsburgh-area families are invited to the Spring Carnival festivities. 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. Booth construction and presentation is a competition itself, with each booth judged on various criteria, including day and night time appearance, theme, game playability, and prizes.

Carnie Mellon, founded in 1900, is a private research university with an undergraduate enrollment of over 6,200.

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 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 of the creations by architecture and engineering students.

For Dragon Day, first-year students from the College of Architecture construct a giant a 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.

Located in Ithaca, NY, Cornell University is a private, Ivy League university that boasts over 70 undergraduate majors and more than 4,000 courses. Cornell is one of the most selective universities in the US, with an admission rate of 14% for the Class of 2018.

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

As its name suggests, on the last day of classes seniors are invited to ring the Wren Bell after finishing their final classes. This tradition marks the end of students’ undergraduate careers at W&M, and also kicks off the rest of LDOC festivities.

Continuing the celebration of the end of the classes, W&M hosts 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.

Located in Williamsburg, VA, the College of William and Mary is a public research university with an undergraduate enrollment of just over 6,000.

University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Beginning in 1974, the annual Spring Fling festival at the University of Arizona is recognized as the largest student-run carnival in the US.

Held every April and organized by UA student directors, Spring Fling attracts over 25,000 students, faculty, alumni, and Tucson-area residents, and offers over 35 rides and more than 20 different food booths.

Apart from its delicious food, fun games, thrilling rides, and family-friendly entertainment, this spring tradition also has a loftier purpose: it serves as a fundraiser for over 40 student clubs and organizations on campus. Spring Fling affords students and locals the opportunity to support various university groups, and have fun doing it!

Founded in 1885, the University of Arizona is a public research university with an undergraduate enrollment of 31,500. UA offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate courses of study through its 20 colleges and 11 schools across three campuses.

New York University, New York, NY
For over 20 years, students and faculty at New York University have celebrated spring and the NYU community with one of the most unique, and delicious, traditions: the Strawberry Festival.

Every spring, the NYU students, faculty, and staff come together to celebrate community, wellness, and the joy of strawberries with games, entertainment, costumes, and live music. The main attraction, however, is the delicious strawberry shortcake.

Created by NYU’s Dining Services, the festival features NYC’s longest strawberry shortcake, which measures up to 165 feet long and requires 2,500 egg yolks, 489 cups of sugar, and two-and-a-half gallons of lemon juice! Not to mention hundreds of pounds of strawberries!

NYU is a private research university located in the heart of New York City. With an undergraduate enrollment of just under 20,000, NYU is one of the largest private universities in the US and boasts more than 15 schools and colleges, 11 global academic centers, and portal campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.

Other schools that offer great spring traditions for students include 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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