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Holidays at College: Campus Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving is an American holiday celebrated by students and families across the country, but for the over 1 million international college students and many U.S. students who can’t make the trip home, the long weekend can be lonely on an empty campus.

Some colleges have realized this and made efforts to make this holiday a fun time to be on campus. These traditions and programs allow students who stay on campus to enjoy friendship, fun, and a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

The Ohio State University Thanksgiving Dinner

Started decades ago as a small gathering for a few graduate students left behind during the holiday, the Thanksgiving Dinner at Ohio State University has become one of the most famous campus Thanksgiving traditions in the country. Held every Thanksgiving Day, the event attracts students, faculty, staff, and their families. An estimated 800 guests attend this event, making it one of the largest Thanksgiving Day dinners on a college campus.

Other colleges and universities that host a Thanksgiving Day dinner for students include Cornell University, Arizona State University, University of the Pacific, and Adelphi University.

Yale University Thanksgiving at Home

International students at Yale can register through the Office of International Students and Scholars for Thanksgiving at Home, a program that pairs them with a local family for Thanksgiving. Families in the New Haven area can register to host international students. This experience allows the student to enjoy the food and family traditions of an American holiday while sharing their culture with their host family.

Other universities offer something similar:

Apart from Thanksgiving celebrations, students can look for support programs for first-year and international students when creating a balanced college list. These can aid in making the college transition a smooth one and making your new home away from home feel more welcoming!


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