Experiences to Have While You're in College

Students walking outdoors

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There is more to the college experience than going to class and writing papers. What we remember most fondly down the road are those other college traditions; the mascots, the cheers and all of those quirky activities.

Traditions of College Life

Stanford's alumni magazine ran a list of 101 things to do in college that included such time-honored, Stanford rituals as joining in the "Dead Week Primal Scream," dancing at the Mausoleum Party and getting kissed at "Full Moon on the Quad," a tradition for all freshmen (or it was before the advent of swine flu on college campuses).

A few decades ago, that list probably would have included swallowing goldfish, wearing raccoon coats and cramming into phone booths too. Not all college traditions involve accepting a dare or making a fool of yourself. Some are tried and true traditions that every school has and every college student should experience. You are still young and college is filled with fun, get out there and make the most of it!

55 Things to Do in College

Your personal college to-do list should reflect your interests and passions, but here are some ideas to get your started:

  1. Learn the college cheer: Oski Wow Wow? Och Tamale?
  2. Learn to sing the college fight song: Such as Georgia Tech's "Ramblin' Wreck"—loudly and often
  3. Hear an impromptu acapella concert: Get double points if you sing along. Triple points go to students who join an acapella group with a funny name, such as Harvard's Din & Tonics or Boston University's Treblemakers
  4. Play inner-tube water polo: How can you resist that!
  5. Join an intramural sport: Preferably one you have never played before
  6. Introduce an intramural sport that no one's ever played before. Ninja is one of Lewis and Clark College's favorite games
  7. Chat with a Nobel laureate:  This may be one of your few chances in life!
  8. Complain about the dorm food: It is not your mother's food, but it is better than ramen noodles
  9. Stay up all night playing Apples to Apples or Quelf
  10. Join a campus scavenger hunt: This is a fun way to meet new people and explore parts of campus your routines don't take you to
  11. Participate in a polar bear plunge: For instance, Dartmouth organizes a polar bear plunge for health equity.
  12. Celebrate the first snowfall of the year with a massive snowball fight on the green. It is a tradition on campuses like Virginia Tech and Massachusetts' Clark University
  13. Celebrate the first rains of the year with a naked (or near-naked) campus run, as they do at UC Santa Cruz. Again... do not get caught
  14. Determine permanently and irrevocably the precise meaning of life: (A suggestion from the Stanford alumni magazine)
  15. Play ultimate frisbee: It's free, it's fun, and anyone can do it
  16. Catch a play on campus: Who knows, the next Hollywood superstar may be right there on stage
  17. Paint the campus emblem on the hill: University of Nevada-Reno students do this every fall when they trek up to the big "N" on Peavine Peak
  18. Join a zombie attack or other improv troupe event
  19. Attend a lecture: Campuses are filled with visiting lectures from famous public figures, artists, historians, and other interesting people
  20. Learn to ballroom dance: This may come in handy on your wedding day!
  21. Learn a new language: It is a skill that could be valuable in the workplace someday
  22. Attend a frat party: They are not hard to miss!
  23. Dress up and go dancing: A night on the town is the perfect way to unwind
  24. Boogie with the team mascot after a winning game. Every school has one and whether it's Cal's Oski or Georgia Tech's Buzz, they love to dance
  25. Sit in on a class you're not even taking, just because the professor is so good
  26. Go to your professor's house for supper: It is an opportunity to get to know them outside of the lecture hall and can be very interesting
  27. Hear a university orchestra concert: They are free and awesome!
  28. Cheer the band at halftime: Save the nacho run for later and enjoy the talents of your peers
  29. Pull an all-nighter and then hit the nearby donut shop
  30. Take a film course: You get to watch movies then discuss them in the most intellectual fashion
  31. Sign up for a class you will never need: Anyone up for the theory of Harry Potter, the philosophy of "Star Trek," or Zombies 101?
  32. Launch your own intramural Quidditch team: Really, it's a thing!
  33. Go to open mic night at the campus pub. Cheer for everyone
  34. Sing at open mic night: Let all your inhibitions go away for a minute and show off your inner diva
  35. Try a class out of your comfort zone: Astrophysics 101, perhaps, or beginning sculpture.
  36. Check out the school's anti-stress fests during exam week: Take some time to unwind at the snuggle-the-puppies booth at Cal Poly, the midnight breakfast at Clark University or Death by Chocolate at Pomona
  37. Go fountain hopping: Plunge into every running fountain, do a little dance and move on to the next one.
  38. Go to a drum circle: Extra points if you drum, too
  39. Go to office hours: It may be a little serious, but professors have them for a reason
  40. Catch a senior recital: The music is always really good plus there's free food afterward. Be sure to congratulate everyone
  41. Buy a flotilla of rubber duckies: Float one in each campus fountain
  42. Learn to fence: Er, with a sword
  43. Learn to cook so you don't have to eat dorm food all the time
  44. Embrace the joys of ramen: Cheap nutrition is important!
  45. Go to the big game bonfire: Cheer at the top of your lungs
  46. Stampede to the quad when the bells ring at midnight. Decorating the quad is a freshman tradition during Agnes Scott College's Black Cat rituals
  47. Participate in ALL the welcome week activities: This might include skits, dances, or a big outdoor movie night, like the one at Redlands University
  48. Start a club: College is a great place to realize that you are not alone in your favorite hobby.
  49. Joinor startan extreme origami club like the one at MIT, which makes 17-ft. triceratops sculptures entirely out of folded paper
  50. Leap into an out-of-the-ordinary competition troupe like the tango dancing team at UC Santa Cruz
  51. Pick the oddest P.E. course and sign up: There is nothing like a wakeboarding course or a little Valhalla fighting instruction to get the blood pumping
  52. Play zombie tag: There are few places in adult life that this is acceptable, take advantage of it!
  53. Go geocaching on campus: Let your inner geek out and rely on the GPS.
  54. Volunteer for a campus-sponsored community service project like the ones organized by California's St. Mary's College during welcome week. It's a great way to meet new people, and it always feels good to do good
  55. Opt for a feel-good, community service spring break instead of Daytona Beach or Cabo

By Jackie Burrell
Jackie Burrell is a former education and parenting reporter, experienced in issues around parenting young adults as a mother of four.