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Colleges and Universities With the Best Campus Traditions and Unique Superstitions

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  • Columbia University (New York, NY):
    DYK? At the end of the spring semester during finals week, students participate in the Primal Scream where everyone takes the pent-up stress from the year and screams out their windows at midnight.

    Other campus customs: The statue of Alma Mater, or the Goddess Minerva, that sits on campus is said to grant Valedictorian status to the first student from each class to find the hidden owl in her robes. The University also boasts diverse yearly celebrations, including lively events for the Hindu festival of Holi.
  • Cornell University (Ithaca, NY):
    DYK? In an effort to promote and support the field of architecture and planning, the University's College of Architecture, Art, and Planning hosts an event called Dragon Day! Started in 1901, Architecture students build a model dragon to be ready for the parade which takes place the Friday before spring break. The College even sells Dragon Day T-shirts to fund the project each year.
  • Iowa State University (Ames, IA):
    DYK? Love is in the air at this school! Not only is it said that if you walk around Lake LaVerne silently three times with your beloved you'll be destined to be together, but you're believed to be a true Cyclone when you kiss someone under the clocktower at midnight. And if you have no one to kiss, it's also believed standing under it at midnight before the fall semester starts will grant you a successful academic year.

    Other campus customs: Like many other Universities, Iowa State is very superstitious about its floor emblems. Students, faculty, and alumni alike avoid stepping on The Zodiac when entering Gold Star Hall to avoid flunking an exam or having other bad luck.
  • Pennsylvania State University—University Park (University Park, PA):
    DYK? The Penn State University system is well-known for its athletic teams—and it's the success of the Nittany Lions that lends to the long-standing tradition of the Whiteout Game. The Whiteout Game is the first home game of the season where the entire stadium of Penn fans dress in white to support the team. It's so popular that students and alumni alike eagerly wait for the yearly release of the football season schedule to find out when the Whiteout game will be.
  • The University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX):
    DYK? The longest-running tradition on campus that dates back 30 years is the Bed Races. In this one-night event, teams of five push a wheeled bed 40 yards in an attempt to run the fastest time. Four members push the bed while the fifth person goes for the ride of their life!

    Other campus customs: UT has a ton more community-building traditions such as rubbing the head on the founder's statue for good luck before an exam and jumping into the river after graduation. New students can also easily get to know campus by participating in a campus scavenger hunt.
  • University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR):
    DYK? Said to date back to the 1920s, Calling the Hogs is one of the most iconic sports chants in higher education. It's used before kick-off at all Razerback Stadium home games as well as chanted by the UK student section to help rally the team when they're falling behind. Get in on the hype with the simple lyrics:
    Woooooooooo, Pig! Sooie!
    Woooooooooo, Pig! Sooie!
    Woooooooooo, Pig! Sooie!

  • University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA):
    DYK? UC Berkley has a lot of superstitions that could make or break your grades and alter your academic success! If you step on any of the three University seals on campus, you won’t be able to achieve a 4.0 GPA. But have no fear if you do it by accident! You have options to combat this, such as rubbing the 4.0 ball statue for good luck, rolling down 4.0 Hill before midterms, or walking backward out of the library so the statue of Athena allows you to keep the knowledge you gained there.
  • University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA):
    DYK? While many schools now participate in the scantily-clad events, UCLA was the school to start the Undie Run all the way back in 2001. Student Eric Whitehead was upset when the school banned the tradition of the midnight yell and walked the campus in boxers in protest. Now, students strip down to their underwear yearly in masses as a way to release stress during finals and have fun with the greater campus community.
  • University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA):
    DYK? UC San Diego is so well-known for their student Welcome Week festivities they can't even contain it to one week! Events—including games, performances, workshops, and more—take place over the entire first month of the school year, and usually have some on-trend theme, like this year's Welcome Week which was all themed around Barbie.

    Other campus customs: The University also follows suit with the common traditions of the undie run, finals week scream, and not stepping on the Warren seal to avoid bad luck.
  • University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL):
    DYK? Legend says that you won’t graduate if you walk across the Student Union Pegasus Seal. But once you have your diploma in hand? UCF encourages grads to go ahead and walk across it to celebrate a momentous achievement.

    Other campus customs: The University is also well-known for its Welcome Week Events, including Spirit Splash—voted one of the best traditions in the country—when students storm the campus pond to collect rubber ducks and commemorative T-shirts.
  • University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA):
    DYK? Started in 2017, The Hawkeye Wave is one of the most heartwarming traditions in college sports. At every home game, when the clock hits zero at the end of the first quarter, 70,000+ fans turn to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital and wave in unison to the pediatric patients and their families watching the game. The patients and family members view this act of kindness as an inspiring wave of hope. They're even expanding on the tradition by partnering with the hospital to choose a Kid Captain each week to select the song that'll accompany the Wave that week.

Welcome Week Festivities

  • Indiana University Bloomington (Bloomington, IN):
    DYK? IU Bloomington takes welcoming new students very seriously. The University holds a formal Induction Ceremony for every new class, which includes students receiving an IU pin, hearing from the administration, and reciting the Indiana Promise to uphold the values and expectations of being a Hoosier.
  • Rice University (Houston, TX):
    DYK? At the end of O-Week (orientation week), Rice celebrates its new annd returning students with Welcome Back Day Fest. The highhly anticipated event features free food, activities, merch, and music. Previous events have boasted bounce hoouses, food trucks, an obstacle coourse, and much more.
  • Trinity University (San Antonio, TX):
    DYK? At Trinity, students climb Murchison Tower at New Student Orientation and again when they graduate. The second time around, they can leave their mark by signing a brick (if they make a donation to the senior class gift).

    Other campus customs: Students also love participating in the tradition of the Birthday Dunk, where your peers will carry you off for a dip in the campus fountain on your birthday.
  • University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder, CO):
    DYK? CU Boulder doesn't just welcome students with an old-hat orientation week—they go all out. Two of the most anticipated events of the week are Spirit Night and the WelcomeFest concert. Spirit night sees students decked out in free CU gear, learning about Greek life, and getting some free food, whereas WelcomeFest is just a fun time to get hyped for a great year and listen to some good music.
  • University of Georgia (Athens, GA):
    DYK? Welcoming in studennts is one big party at UGA. Students get to know their peers in Reed Plaza before making their way to Sanford Stadium to hear from some VIBs (Very Important Bulldogs), learn game day cheers and traditions, and form the Power G on Dooley Field.
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV):
    DYK? The University focuses on the importance of creativity in education with UNLV Creates as the official kickoff to Welcome Weeks. This annual academic ceremony welcomes new students and their families to the community educates them about transformative opportunities, and highlights faculty creativity and discovery. The event includes a formal welcoming event, and during the ceremony, students pledge to graduate from UNLV to signify the beginning of a successful college career.

Good Luck, Good Grades

  • Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA):
    DYK? First-year students, on the night before the first day of the semester, gather to parade the campus before congregating to watch the University president light a candle that represents the “Light of Knowledge.” Then the night before that class is set to graduate, the ceremony is repeated with the added step of blowing the candle out to represent graduates’ next step into the world.
  • College of Charleston (Charleston, SC):
    DYK? Charleston expresses its academic individuality by ditching the standard caps and gowns at graduation. Instead, graduates are required to don formal attire—dressing in black if they are graduating at the end of the fall semester and white if they are graduating in spring.

    Other campus customs: On their first day, students pass through the Porter's Lodge arch into the Cistern Yard to officially sign "the book," and upon graduation in the spring, students exit the yard by passing underneath the same arch and out into the world. It's said walking the path under the cistern before you graduate is bad luck.
  • Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro, TN):
    DYK? The MTSU campus is very superstitious! Many students, faculty, and staff will avoid stepping on The Agriculture Seal is located in the Quad because of the supposed curse of receiving bad luck or not being able to graduate on time On the other hand, everyone is encouraged to touch the Blue Horseshoe for good luck before an event—such as the big game, a performance, or tests. A penny from 1911, the year the university was founded, was dropped into the ground under the statue, which supplies good luck for those who touch the horseshoe.
  • Southern Utah University (Cedar City, UT):
    DYK? For over a decade, the Carter Carillon Bell Tower has seen thousands of students begin and finish their time at SUU. During the first week of their freshman year, students walk under the Bell Tower going east to symbolize a new beginning. At graduation, they walk back out going west to represent the end of an era. It's said bad luck falls upon students who walk under the tower at any other time during their college journey.

    Other campus customs: The Bell Tower Walk is just one of the 50 beloved traditions at SUU. To encourage students to participate in as many as possible, the University hosts the Tradition Keeper program, and students attempting to complete all 50 will receive prizes along the way.
  • St. John's College (Annapolis, MD):
    DYK? At St. John's faculty are called "tutors" not professors—emphasizing the core belief that they act as model learners for students rather than subject matter experts. To encourage this conversational and supportive academic atmosphere, students are required to meet with all their tutors at once and have an open discussion about their academic progress each semester. While seeming intimidating, it's an effective and intentional way to promote success and academic progress.

    Other campus customs: At the Santa Fe Campus, first-year students celebrate the completion of reading the Iliad by participating in the Funeral Games, where they reenact the competitions at the Funeral of Patroclus. "
  • University of Wisconsin—La Crosse (La Crosse, WI):
    DYK? When construction was completed in 1997, the HHoeschhler Clock tower became the new home for the University's traditional hanging of the lantern during Homecoming week—symbolizing that students and alumni always have a home at UW. Manny superstitions spread through campus about the clock tower, including the belief that walking under it means you won't graduate in four years.
  • University of Wyoming (Laramie, WY):
    DYK? There's a statue on campus of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, affectionately known as Rexy, that is said to grant better grades on tests and exams for any student who can throw a pinecone into his mouth.

Showing School Spirit

  • Elmira College (Elmira, NY):
    DYK? Elmira's Mountain Day may not be an officially designated holiday, but it sure is one for students and faculty alike. This yearly tradition sees classes canceled to give the campus community an opportunity to engage with each other outside the classroom—activities have included picnics, hikes, games, environmental projects, and more.

    Other campus customs: Students also participate in the Octagon Fair and Map Days each year, family-friendly campus events for fun outside; new students also conduct a Candlelight Ceremony with a walk to "The Puddle" and do so again the night before graduation.
  • Elon University (Elon, NC):
    DYK? Elon focuses a lot of their traditions on bringing other cultural traditions to the campus community. Each year, the University hosts a celebration of Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors, where students participate in the fun ceremony of throwing colored power into the air and allowing themselves to be coated in it. The event is bursting with life featuring Bollywood music and dance group performances
  • Harvard University (Cambridge, MA):
    DYK? Harvard is so big on school spirit that they incentivize students to show off their campus pride every week! Each Friday, staff and interns walk around campus in search of students expressing the most school spirit. Anyone caught wearing crimson or Harvard College gear will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win fun prizes each week.
  • Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA):
    DYK? Lehigh likes to keep things fresh for their spirit week festivities! Students participate in things like decorating their car windows to show support for the school, creating a shopping cart float for the campus parade, bed races, and much more.
  • The University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT):
    DYK? The U celebrates the coming end of each school year with the biggest late-night campus party students can imagine. Dubbed Crimson Nights, students can play lawn games, enjoy free food and beverages, attend drag shows and concerts, and much more.
  • University of Florida (Gainesville, FL):
    DYK? It's common to catch UF Gators in the wild. How do you know they're UF alum? They'll be greeting each other with the Gator Chomp, of course! Most often done in the stands at sporting events, Gators hold their arms in front of them with one on top of the other then open and close them like a chomping alligator.
  • University of Mississippi (University, MS):
    DYK? For students, fans, and alumni, the Hotty Toddy chant is a greeting, cheer, and secret handshake all rolled into one—it is the spirit of Ole Miss. Cheer along with them by learning the words to one of the most iconic school chants in the country.
    Are you ready?
    Hotty toddy, gosh almighty, who the hell are we?
    Hey! Flim flam, bim bam, Ole Miss, By Damn!
  • University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls, IA):
    DYK? UNI has so many traditions that if students complete more than half of them they get a lapel pin to wear at graduation—and if they complete all 45, they receive a medallion. Some traditions are as simple as eating in the dining hall or attending an on-campus performance and some require more effort like participating in sports and other extracurriculars.

A Little Friendly Competition

  • Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA):
    DYK? Every year BC students flock to the courts for the mess that is Mudstock—an annual student volleyball competition where the point is to get down and dirty. Fun fact: In 2022, Mudstock was renamed SoupCrock because students played volleyball with crocks of French onion soup when the volleyball supply company fell through.
  • Lawrence University (Appleton, WI):
    DYK? Running for 50+ years, the University hosts the Great Midwest Trivia Contest each January to give students some sleep-deprived fun in the middle of a cold Wisconsin winter. The contest kicks off on a Friday and doesn't close until midnight on Sunday.
  • University of Central Arkansas (Conway, AR):
    DYK? At UCA, Welcome Week is all about the spirit of friendly competition! New students participate in not one but three different fun competitions as they settle into the campus community. Battle of the Halls tests the might of teams from first-year residence halls; casino nights give students a chance to dress up and put on their best poker face; and the dodgeball tournament (which also earns points toward the Battle of the Halls tournament).
  • University of Houston—Clear Lake (Houston, TX):
    DYK? UHCL's longest-standing tradition is the Chili Cook-Off. Held every spring, teams consisting of students, faculty, and staff alike compete to make the best chili solely for bragging rights. They also use the event to celebrate Hunter the Hawk's, their beloved mascot, birthday.

    Other campus customs: This schools is all about campus pride! Not only do they host an I Heart UHCL Day during Hawk Spirit Week in the fall, but throughout the year students are encouraged to participate in Blue and Green Wednesdays and wear school colors every week.
  • Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA):
    DYK? The Wellesley Hoop Rolling tradition is a way for students to have fun during a long semester. It's an event where upperclass students hand down hoops to underclass students, who then decorate them to roll them in a race against their peers. The winner is then carried away and thrown into the lake, and it's said their victory will grant them great success.

Love in the Air

  • Miami University—Oxford (Oxford, OH):
    DYK? The Upham Arch is legendary for bringing true love together, what the University likes to call a "Miami Merger." The superstition says that if you kiss your true love under the arch, you will marry and your bond won't ever be broken. So many alumni believe in it, in fact, that the school broke a Guinness World Record in 2009 for the most people renewing their wedding vows at once under the arch.

    Other campus customs: The superstittions aren't just for the lovestruck. Friends must be cautious when roaming campus together as tradition says when a group passes a tree, all members must pass on the same—if they allow the tree to split their group, their friendships will falter.
  • Murray State University (Murray, KY):
    DYK? A tradition since the late 1960s, Racer “sole” mates who meet on campus and hang their shoes on the Shoe Tree are said to receive a lifetime of good luck. Couples typically write their anniversaries on the shoes, and sometimes even return to add a baby shoe after starting a family. The Shoe Tree standing on campus today is the third iteration in University history—the first was struck by lightning and the second had to be removed due to safety concerns.
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—New Brunswick (New Brunswick, NJ):
    DYK? Dubbed the "Passion Puddle," the on-campus pond at Rutgers–NB ranked among the top 10 most romantic college spots in the country. As the myth goes, if two love birds held hands and walked around the pond three times together they would be married and live happily ever after.

    Other campus customs: Graduating students walk in academic procession under the Class of 1902 Memorial Gateway during commencement—they're warned away from crossing under the arch prior to graduation, believing the superstition that those who do won't graduate in four years.

Source: CX Student Users

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About This List

College traditions and superstitions play a significant role in creating a sense of community and belonging among students on campus. These rituals often connect students with their institution's rich history while fostering a sense of pride and identity. Additionally, they provide a break from the academic side of college, offering students a chance to relax and bond with their peers. Superstitions can even offer comfort and a sense of control during stressful times while helping students navigate the challenges of college life.

The colleges and universities on this list were recommended by real students for having unique and interesting traditions and superstitions. From rubbing a statue’s head for good luck on an exam to racing full-sized beds on wheels across campus, these schools have some bizarre fun on campus. Start exploring colleges by their most unique customs and cultures to find yourself an academic home where you can imprint yourself upon its long history!

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