How to create a college application that really stands out


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College application season is one of the most stressful times of the year for high school students as they get ready to apply to schools and decide where they want to spend the next four years of their lives. This article delivers advice from college admissions counselors to help students create a standout application and navigate the application process.


High school students are tasked with a lot as they enter and begin their senior year – and perhaps the most intimidating task that students face is preparing and sending college applications. It can be a pretty cumbersome process; visiting campuses, obtaining letters of recommendation, and writing personal essays while balancing their coursework can be time-consuming and very stressful.

While everyone has a unique strategy for managing difficult tasks and relieving stress, the college application process is unique in that no two students will follow the same steps. Each student’s journey to a college degree is unique to them, and that’s why the team at reached out to college admissions counselors nationwide to seek advice on how to manage the college application process.

Through contributions from college admissions experts at schools like the University of Cincinnati, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Kentucky – college students can successfully navigate college application season and submit college applications that stand out above the rest.

What is the largest piece of advice you have for students going through the college application process?

Aaron Boner, University of Maryland Global Campus

The largest piece of advice that I share with students is to connect with your admissions counselor. Foster that relationship and ask questions to make sure the school is going to be the right fit for you. Admission counselors are here for you!

Addison Zane Mills, University of Kentucky

Be resilient. It can be tedious, and I know most humans can’t stand tedious stuff. Set a schedule for when you plan to work on your applications, set half an hour windows only, and once that half hour is up, be strict about finishing up whatever you’re working on at that moment. This helps you avoid burnout and limits the amount of dread you’ll feel when you’re next working session is coming up. It helps you stay focused and ultimately makes the process feel less intense and time-consuming. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you feel like you made it through the process!

Alexis Monroe, University of Cincinnati – Main Campus

The largest piece of advice I have for students going through the college application process is to dedicate ample time! You really are making some important decisions about your life over the next 4-5 years so give yourself time to explore all of your options and to complete all of the necessary steps of the process without feeling unnecessarily rushed or stressed about deadlines!

Ann O. Lawson, Malone University

File your FAFSA! It is a free application with the federal government and the first step to getting a financial aid package from a university. Not having your FAFSA information will slow down the financial aid process and, let’s face it, you want to know the bottom line as soon as possible to make your most informed decision. Some schools have full-tuition scholarship competitions that you might not know about because they use your FAFSA to determine that you qualify.

Bryson Purcell, Lock Haven University

Go where YOU want to go. Often times students are pressured into attending the school nearby or to become a legacy student but I always encourage students to go where makes most sense for THEM.

Crystal Nzewi, Longwood University

Never hesitate to ask questions. College admissions, financial aid, student development – all of these things can be difficult to navigate, but university staff members are here to make the transition to college as seamless as possible for you. We really do want you to be successful as you work your way through all the steps to getting started here on our campuses.

Giselle Sourou, DePaul University

Engage with your top schools as much as possible. Not only are we looking for academically advanced students, but also students who show an active interest in our school. Attend virtual events, ASK QUESTIONS, reach out to faculty/advisors/current students, etc. Showing interest in a school is a great way to boost your consideration.

Jacob Osterman, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Please reach out to admissions counselors with any questions you may have about a campus, surrounding community, etc. That is literally what they get paid for, and our goal is to help you decide if their campus is best for you.

Jocelyn Jerez, University of California – Riverside

The largest piece of advice for students going through the college application process is to make sure that they are happy about the schools they are selecting. Sometimes, students have social or family pressures and they are unhappy about the schools they are applying to. Making sure to always put yourself first during the college application process is important. At the end of the day, you need to weigh the pros and cons for yourself and make sure you are happy about the schools you are selecting.

Lorance Washington Jr., Northeastern State University

The largest piece of advice I have for students going through the college application process is to be genuine, and provide as much information as possible. Most schools are wanting to get to know you, and the college application is more than likely the first impression schools will have on you. If you want to stand out, make a good first impression by being genuine and showing that you want to be there.

Mark Clynes, Truman State University

Enjoy and explore the experience, but don’t let it stress you out.  Find the school that you feel “at home” with, don’t worry about what your peers, parents, teachers, counselors, coaches, or anyone else thinks for you, it is your college experience, you want to feel at home with your choice.

Matt Egbert, Campbellsville University

In the end, this is your decision.  One issue I often see is that students apply for schools because they are “nearby” or it will “make their parents happy”.  While these are sometimes good reasons for attending a college, don’t let distance, stepping out of your comfort zone, or fear of rejection keep you from applying to your dream school!  If you apply to a school where you don’t believe you will be genuinely happy, your chances of success will drop and you may find yourself transferring after a semester or two.  A second piece of advice I would give is don’t be discouraged!  If you don’t get into your first school, keep trying.  No college admissions department will frown on your admission or think less of you if you applied to multiple schools.

Miranda Nelson, SUNY College at Oswego

Be yourself and ask questions! Institutions want to know who YOU are. They want to know what you are passionate about and what makes you unique. Colleges want to know if you will be a good fit so being authentic and real is very important. Do not try to be someone you think colleges will like, just truly be yourself. Also, do not hesitate to ask questions! Admissions Counselors are here to guide you through this process. You should never feel alone or lost through this process. Reach out and let us know what you need help with! That is what Admissions Counselors are there for.

Owen Marcus, Westmont College

Keep it simple, keep it fun. While this is such a huge transitional period, there’s no reason why it should be fun to find the next place to call home! Talk to students during your visits, talk to professors of classes you can sit on, ask good questions that will leave you feeling confident in which school might be best fit.

Rita Pearson, Eastern Illinois University

Finding the best fit for you is important.  Visit and talk to those who work and attend the institution you are considering.  Weigh things like cost & affordability, size & personal attention and distance from home.  Once you have your choices narrowed, apply early to the top 3.  Admission to an institution starts the process for packaging financial aid, orientation, and registration.

Timothy Eilola, Lake Superior State University

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That is a main reason why admissions counselors like me are here for. We are here to help navigate students to find the best fit for them for their academic and professional growth. Also, you do not have to have your major picked our day one stepping onto your college campus. Take some intro classes in your interest to deem what you would like to major in.

Tyrell Austin, Ferris State University

Do the research, apply early, and get your ducks in a row by December of your senior year so you can then choose which college you’d like and get your housing situated by January as that’s when housing seems to open up.

As a student working to navigate the college application process, it is incredibly important to utilize the resources available to you, with one of the most valuable resources being counselors – and ask them any questions you may have as you research, visit, and prepare to apply to colleges. It is important to be resilient and to dedicate ample time to preparing your college applications, dedicating that time to finding schools that would make you the happiest and allow you to thrive, both personally and academically.


For more information about when to begin college planning, check out our comprehensive College Planning Guide for High School Students.

What makes a student’s application stand out?

Alexis Monroe, University of Cincinnati – Main Campus

In general, the strongest student applications are ones that allow us to really see and understand who the student is, how they have spend their time thus far in life, how they came to understand their passion for their future academic/ professional endeavors, how they have grown over their time in high school and why the university they are applying to is a place where they can see that growth continued! These elements can be displayed via extra curricular involvement lists, personal statements, letters of recommendation, etc!

Andre Hill, Elizabeth City State University

When an application provides an essay, use it as an opportunity to share your voice.  It is near impossible to meet every student that applies to a school, so the essay becomes an important tool to figure out why my campus might be the best fit for them.  Tell your story and use your own voice to do it.

Cedric Sage Nixon, University of Northern Colorado

Involvement is one of the main factors that helps students stand out. Many people think involvement is just clubs and sports after school. Involvement can be many things, including work! Include every experience.

Crystal Nzewi, Longwood University

A student who has a good GPA and course work of course stands out of course. But a student who is relatable in their person essay sticks with you. Counselors go through multiple applications, so in order to stand out you need high performance both in grades and involvement, and also an essay that shows who YOU are.

Derek Faasse, University of Toledo

Students, and I’ll include my former 17-year-old self in this category, have a hard time envisioning themselves at schools that they haven’t heard about very often. The big-name schools get TV ads, have their football teams on every Saturday, and sell gear at every Target in the state. But students should be consulting with their school counselor about what types of colleges, universities, or trade schools might be a good fit for their career, personal development, and educational goals. Students should focus on scratching deeper than the surface and not throwing anything out until they’ve done more research on how they’ll fit into a campus community!

Giselle Sourou, DePaul University

ESSAYS! RECOMMENDATIONS! DePaul has an optional CommonApp Essay, but I HIGHLY encourage students to fill it out. It can make or break an application. It is your opportunity to give us the full picture of who you are as a student in your own words! Also letters of rec can help you along immensely.

Henry Janssen, Truman State University

There’s nothing more powerful to an admission counselor than a student taking their essay seriously.

Jacob Osterman, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Students who are engaged. This can be anything, like giving their time to their community, being in a student group, sports team,  the arts, working or even supporting their family by watching their little siblings. I encourage students to not “sell themselves short” and leave out the activities they do, even if it’s things that may seem simple, like helping out their family by supporting younger siblings. What we are trying to see are students that can maintain strong grades while also maintaining other priorities as well. Because we see that the students who thrive on our campus are those that can keep themselves committed to their schoolwork, but also engaged in other activities as well.

Matt Egbert, Campbellsville University

From my experience in dealing with international student applications, I am always impressed when a prospective student shows they have researched the university.  This tells me the student: (1) is serious about their education, and (2) has actually thought things through instead of making a spur-of-the-moment decision.  I see hundreds of applications a month and the ones that just provide the bare minimum start to run together.  When a student shows they have gone above and beyond the bare minimum, this tells me they are serious about college and aren’t just applying because they feel like they have to check it off their list.

Shyla Tapscott, Columbus State University

Extracurriculars. It shows involvement, within the institution and without it. We want someone who will leave a legacy here, and they’ll do so by creating connections within the community.

Thomas Bignall, Grace Christian University

Having worked with students seeking entry in to regular and selective colleges, I found one theme rang true with all applications.  Make sure that you can answer and fill out every section with something enriching and/or valuable to that respective college.  All colleges want to see how well-rounded you are, certainly, but they also look for assets that you can potentially bring to the college itself that would make the college community a more valuable and enriching experience for others.

While many students may worry that their GPA or a low grade in a core-academic course like Biology or Algebra will make universities look past them – it’s important to keep in mind that the applications that stand out above the rest are applications that allow for the admissions department to learn more about who the individual student really is. Admissions officers want to find students who not only excel academically but also find students who are engaged and involved. An application essay is a great opportunity to allow the school to learn more about who you are as not only a student and applicant, but as a person too.

According to our experts, your college application will stand out if you:

  • Use your application essay as an opportunity to share your voice and show the admissions department who you really are and learn more about your life.
  • Are involved both on-campus and in extracurriculars outside of the classroom.
  • Have a strong academic track record.
  • Obtain letters of recommendation.

What are one or two of the most important factors you consider in a college application?

Amanda Kala, Gwynedd Mercy University

Two of the most important factors I consider in a college application would be students communication skills, (responsiveness to my outreach to them) and secondly their essays, because they show whether or not the student has truly done their research to find out if that school is the right fit for them.

Bryson Purcell, Lock Haven University

I review applications holistically. This means that I look at all parts of your application including GPA, test scores (if applicable), extracurriculars, sports, part-time job, etc. The more information you can provide to me within your application the better!

Cedric Sage Nixon, University of Northern Colorado

High School GPA is going to be a top factor at almost every university. I’d say involvement is a close second. Involvement can include many things though, not just clubs and organizations. Include work experience and really anything you’re doing outside of the classroom.

Crystal Nzewi, Longwood University

Grades are of course important because a counselor needs to know that a student can keep up with the college credits and requirements. A second important factor is how involved as student is, because it shows how much of a citizen leader they will be on campus.

Derek Faasse, University of Toledo

For me, the two most important factors are academic success and extracurricular involvement. When I say academic success, I don’t mean that a student took 15 AP classes and will finish high school with an associate’s degree. If they will – great! To me, academic success is simply doing well in the classes you take. Whether it’s the most advanced class possible or a freshman-level course, it’s important to contribute to the class and to learn what it takes to apply yourself to your education. As for extracurriculars, I’m not interested in seeing 25 clubs and organizations on an application. Did the student do something outside of the classroom – club, sport, job, or volunteering – that they might be able to carry with them to my school? College is about more than just coursework and classrooms, and it’s good to see that a student takes that approach going into the process without overextending themselves.

Jacob Osterman, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

I always think it’s valuable to see a student who is engaged in student groups, or their community, or working, etc. This demonstrates to me that the student is someone who can handle multiple priorities and can thrive on a college campus where they will be doing more than sitting in a classroom.

Thomas Bignall, Grace Christian University

The two most important factors that I consider to be of greatest value in every college application is the clarity and accuracy of writing skills, and the breadth/depth of the content in the application.  You should never leave a section blank or without any type of valuable content.  The respective questions are asked for a reason and a college is looking for one’s ability to fill out their application fully and with the best quality of content and enrichment.

Unsurprisingly, high school GPA and course grades are among the most important factors in a college application – but they are not the only thing an admissions officer will look for. While grades are incredibly important, being involved in your community and on-campus can push your college application over the top. Universities look for well-rounded students who not only excel in the classroom but also are involved outside the classroom as well, and using your application to let the school get to know who you are can make you a clear standout applicant.


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Bizarre college traditions across America


When you cram a bunch of young adults together on a campus for months on end, some weird things are bound to happen. In addition to producing generations of leaders, cultural touchstones and vital research, America’s institutes of higher learning have been the birthplaces of many bizarre traditions.


While every university has its own time-honored pastimes, the student bodies at some schools have pushed theirs into truly weird territory. Here are the most unique campus traditions that are still happening at colleges in the United States.


stonena7 / istockphoto


Primal Scream is a tradition that exists on many campuses, typically seeing students enjoy a period of lung-shattering screams together as they prepare for final exams. At Harvard, however, the tradition is more about the “primal” than the “scream.”


Twice every year — before final exams in both spring and fall — students at the elite institution gather together, ditch their clothes and run a bare lap about Harvard Yard. Some students opt to run in their underwear but, according to the die-hards, that “doesn’t count.”



Ario Barzan


Nudity will be a common theme throughout many traditions highlighted here — and this is another bare tradition that comes from an Ivy League university. Every year since at least the early 1990s, students at Brown have volunteered to take part in this donut run, aka the NDR.


This “liberating” event sees those students disrobe and run — although it’s reportedly more of a stroll — through the various campus libraries, handing out doughnuts to those studying on the last night before finals begin.


The Ivies don’t have the market cornered on campus traditions that happen in the raw. Maryland’s Washington College, which has an enrollment of about 1,300 undergraduates, has seen its students baring all for a unique celebration every year since the late 1960s. May Day happens on the first day of that month and sees students welcome spring by drinking, celebrating and dancing n*ked around a maypole.


While it sounds like something out of “The Wicker Man,” Washington students and alumnus have described it as lighthearted and liberating, despite the fact that campus police have had to arrest known s*x offenders who made a trip to view the festivities in the past.


Washington College


The students at MIT have given the world some incredible breakthroughs in science and technology … and they’ve also given it a truly unique campus tradition. Dating back to 1972, students have been leaving their mark on the pavement in front of the Baker Hall dormitory by dropping a piano from its roof once a year.


The thrilling event happens on Drop Day, the last day students can drop classes during spring semester, and sees a piano plummet seven stories to the delight of everyone within earshot.


Since the early 1950s, students at Ohio’s Miami University have celebrated a day of drunken debauchery that’s been described as “more exciting than graduation.” Green Beer Day is, just as it sounds, a day where the gallons of beer served in the local bars is dyed green, despite it often not falling on Saint Patrick’s Day.


Green Beer Day happens on the Thursday before Miami’s spring break and sees students drinking from morning until the next morning, much to the chagrin of local police and many of the faculty and administrators at the school, which doesn’t sanction the event.





While most campus traditions are reserved especially for students or alumni, this one is open for anyone to enjoy. Auburn’s James E. Foy Information Desk, named for a beloved former dean of the Alabama school, has been taking calls since the 1950s and was basically the original Google.


The students who work the phones at the desk will attempt to answer any question a caller poses, no matter how obscure it may be. In 2014, the hotline went viral, thanks to a Reddit post, and saw one staffer answer about 300 calls in five hours. Have a burning question? Simply dial 334-844-4244 and ask Foy!



Auburn University


Not many campus traditions have found themselves holding a Guinness World Record but Carnegie Mellon’s most unique one once did as the world’s most painted-on object. The Fence, as it’s known around the Pittsburgh campus, has been standing since 1923 and has seen countless students apply countless layers of paint to its surface.


As the rules of The Fence state, student organizations have from midnight until 6 a.m. on their appointed date to paint the structure in its entirety, using only hand brushes, to display whatever message they are promoting. A member of that group must then stand guard at The Fence at all times to protect their work — until the next group takes over. You can see The Fence in the background of this shot.


Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.


Columbia is home to some fantastic campus traditions, including the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Annual Bad Poetry Contest, but Orgo Night is the dean of them all. Dating back to 1975, this wild tradition sees hundreds of students, including the marching band, swarm Butler Library on the night before organic chemistry students take their final exam (which is where the odd name comes from).


The event itself is exactly the opposite of what you’d expect to be happening inside a library on an Ivy League campus before a pressure-packed exam, with raucous musical performances accompanying live comedy aimed at satirizing the school year before it closes.


Now that the tradition of sledding down snowy Libe Slope on cafeteria trays has been banned, Dragon Day is unquestionably the best of all Cornell customs. This larger-than-life celebration has been happening every March at the Ithaca, New York, campus since at least 1901.


First-year architecture students design and construct a massive dragon and use it to lead a parade around campus. The procession used to end with the dragon being torched, but safety ordinances have banned that practice and now it culminates with a battle between the dragon and beasts built by students from other Cornell programs.


This tradition used to exist at many schools across America but, as of this writing, only a few still require it, including Pennsylvania’s Bryn Mawr. In order for students to graduate from the prestigious women’s college, they must pass a swim test at some point during their tenure.


The test requires each student to swim continuously for 10 minutes, followed by one minute each of floating and treading water. Columbia University has a similar requirement before graduation, but it only requires students to swim three laps of the school’s pool.



bmc_admissions / Instagram


This New Hampshire Ivy has several outstanding campus traditions, including an annual “beach party” that’s held in a fraternity house filled with sand on a February night and the Ledyard Bridge Challenge, which involves swimming and sprinting in the n*de. But it’s the so-called Dartmouth Seven that tempts the bravest students to leave their mark on the historic campus.


This risky challenge asks undergraduates to have s*x at seven iconic locations around Dartmouth before they graduate, all of which come with a high risk of being caught. The locations include the 50-yard line of the football field, inside Dartmouth Hall and at the BEMA amphitheater.


If you thought The Masters was Georgia’s greatest sporting event, you clearly haven’t witnessed The Mini 500. Every fall since 1969, on the Friday before Georgia Tech’s homecoming football game, students compete in a road race that can only be described as … special.


Teams of seven people — four of whom take turns riding and three of whom are on the pit crew — battle to see which group can complete eight laps around the Peters Parking Deck while riding a children’s tricycle.


What makes the race a real doozy is the fact that each team must rotate their front tire three times throughout the race, leading to many wrecks when the flimsy tricycle invariably falls apart under the weight of its adult rider.



Georgia Tech


One of the oldest bizarre traditions held on an American campus happens every year at South Dakota State. Dating back to the early 1900s, Hobo Day has been a can’t-miss event for all Jackrabbits and honestly anyone around the city of Brookings.


Every fall, students at SDSU essentially turn the campus into a massive “hobo camp,” dressing in their best hobo-inspired outfits, competing in the so-called Bum Olympics and the Miss Homelycoming pageant. Maybe the best tradition of all sees students cease shaving their faces and/or legs for a month leading up to Hobo Day to see who has the most unkempt growth.



South Dakota State University


Plenty of obscure traditions on college campuses are related to athletics and this one from Penn is truly one of a kind. At the third quarter of every home football game for the Quakers, students in the stands fling slices of toast onto the field, regardless of what the present game situation may be.


The tradition started in the 1970s, when alcohol was banned from Penn’s football stadium, making this the closest thing fans could do to raise a “toast to dear old Penn,” as is urged during the beloved school song, “Drink a Highball.” According to the school, as many as 30,000 pieces of toast can be thrown per game during a good season.



pkujiahe / istockphoto


At Ohio State, football is essentially a religion and the school’s annual game against arch-rival Michigan is the high holy day. As such, several of OSU’s best traditions revolve around the contest, such as students taking an annual leap into the frigid Mirror Lake.


However, the stranger and more labor-intensive custom on the Columbus campus happens during the entire week leading up to the game, when every letter “M” visible around the school is covered up. Whether found on campus buildings, signposts or even speed limit markers, no “M” is safe during Michigan week.



peterspiro / istockphoto


While many of the traditions listed here can generously be described as self-indulgent, Penn State’s IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, aka Thon, has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to fight childhood cancer. Even with all that goodwill on its side, the tradition is still plenty bizarre.


Every February, Penn State students cram into the school’s Bryce Jordan Center to take part in a dance marathon that lasts for 46 hours. Participants aren’t allowed to sit or sleep during that span, making it likely the most grueling campus tradition on this list.



Penn State University


Students at Minnesota’s Carleton College have concocted a few of the most unique campus traditions we found in researching this list. For one, they host an annual silent dance party that sees students don headphones, listen to a synchronized playlist and party in a library while making as little noise as possible. But the Rotblatt, which has existed since the late 1960s, is truly a masterpiece of wild traditions.


Every year, two teams of students take to a softball field at dawn for a game that lasts an inning for every year the college has existed. Given that Carleton was founded in 1866, that means more than 150 innings at this point, and counting. To make the whole thing even better, players are expected to hold a drink in their hand during the entire marathon contest.


Carleton College


The end of a school year is a time full of anxiety and tension — and the students at Oregon’s Reed College have found a cathartic way to let it all go when their work is done. All seniors at Reed have to complete a thesis project that they work on for an entire year, leaving them with mountains of research, notes and drafts once they’ve finally turned in the finished project.


As part of the school’s annual year-end Renn Fayre celebration — which is loaded with unique traditions — seniors are invited to burn their early drafts in a bonfire, which has to be as satisfying as any custom on this list.



Reed College


You can probably put the nuts and bolts of this campus tradition together from its title, but Beer Bike is a little more complex than it sounds. Every year since 1957, students at this Houston institution have formed teams and competed in a bicycle relay race that involves copious amounts of drinking.


The school says there are a lot of “elaborate rules” for Beer Bike, but the gist is that every team has 10 designated riders and 10 designated chuggers, who have key roles in the competition.


On men’s teams, the chugger has to slam 24 ounces of beer (or water if they’re under 21) before a rider can take off for three laps around the track. This continues until all riders and chuggers have done their parts.


Leonard Lane


If there’s a campus tradition that inspires intellectual young adults to channel their inner children, it’s Swarthmore’s annual Pterodactyl Hunt. Every fall, students at the Pennsylvania liberal arts college wear trash bags over their clothes and wield foam bats while running around the campus, hunting pterodactyls and monsters.


Those creatures come in the form of other Swarthmore students dressed in costumes, who gladly take the beatings in the name of fun. One former student called the Pterodacyl Hunt a chance for students to “just be completely ridiculous for an evening.”





Speaking of mythical hunts, the University of Chicago is home to what could be described as the most epic scavenger hunt in existence. The Scav, as it’s called at the prestigious school, has taken place every year since 1987 and has grown progressively more outlandish in the passing decades.


Hundreds of students and alumni compete to rack up points by performing feats and finding or creating items over a span of four days. According to a book about the tradition, students have gotten married, gotten tattoos, been circumcised, built working nuclear reactors and taken plane rides to unknown destinations, all for the glory of The Scav.


Of all the traditions we’ve recounted here, the annual Pull at Michigan’s Hope College has to be one of the oldest and most intense. This titanic match of tug-of-war pits 36 freshmen against 36 sophomores, 18 of whom pull the rope and 18 of whom act as morale boosters, and has been known to be a marathon. Since it was first held in 1898, the Pull has run the gamut in length from less than three minutes to more than three hours before a winner was crowned.



Hope College


Washington, D.C.’s Gallaudet University is renowned as America’s top institution for students who are deaf or hard of hearing — but it’s also home to a truly bizarre campus tradition. Every year since at least 1900, first-year students at Gallaudet have seen their initial term end with a ceremony that is equal parts sullen and silly.


As legend has it, the freshmen classes in the old days would take care of two rats every year and then kill them and hold an elaborate funeral ceremony at the end of the school year. Today, fake rats are used, but the ceremony honoring their “lives” and burying them on campus is still as serious as ever.


Gallaudet University


Every winter, one liberal arts college in eastern Wisconsin becomes the center of the trivia universe for an entire weekend. Lawrence University’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest is like trivia night at your local bar — except it lasts for 50 straight hours.


Emanating from the campus radio station since 1966, the contest sees an obscure question asked every five minutes, with teams racing to call in with their answer. There are countless mini-traditions packed into this one epic campus tradition, including the oddly specific starting time of exactly 37 seconds after 10 p.m. on the Friday night when it begins.



Lawrence University


Of all the physically demanding challenges on this list, NC State’s Krispy Kreme Challenge might sound the most awful. In 2004, a group of students at the Raleigh campus challenged themselves to sprint from the school’s signature bell tower to a Krispy Kreme bakery more than 2 miles away, eat 12 glazed doughnuts each and then sprint back to campus.


That challenge has grown to become a signature philanthropic event at NC State, raising roughly $2 million for the University of North Carolina Children’s Hospital in the years since.



North Carolina State University


College sports traditions typically elicit rowdy behavior from students, but Taylor University’s annual Silent Night aims for something more eerie. At the Friday night men’s basketball game before finals week at the Indiana school, students cram into the arena in costume and remain completely silent until the Trojans score their 10th point. It makes for a bizarre feeling during the early minutes of the game, which has clearly affected opponents since Taylor is 22-1 all time in Silent Night games!



Taylor University


If simple streaking wasn’t enough for you, students at the University of Vermont have found a decidedly more uncomfortable way to bare all for their weirdest campus tradition.


Twice a year, on the night before final exams begin each semester, UVM students strip down, mount bicycles and ride around the Burlington campus to relieve some pent-up anxiety. The school recently stopped providing security for the event on the grounds that it’s too expensive, but this  bike ride has been a beloved tradition for uninhibited students since 2000.





Athletic traditions at American colleges don’t get much more violent than Tennessee’s annual Boxing Weekend. Since 1980, members of various UT fraternities — and, more recently, sororities — have been signing up to step into the ring and try to knock one another out at Knoxville’s Golden Gloves Gym.


The event is part of a rowdy weekend on the campus and sees the gym packed with students who want to watch their classmates pummel one another. Every year, the tournament raises enough money to provide the gym with new equipment and to support three other boxing clubs around the state.



University Of Tennessee


Being startled awake by early morning fireworks would be a major annoyance in most parts of the world, but at Syracuse’s Le Moyne College, it’s like music to the ears of students. That surprise display of pyrotechnics announces the start of Dolphy Day, which is an impromptu day off from classes that happens every spring. The unexpected holiday includes 24 hours of partying and relaxation for students and has been a tradition at Le Moyne since 1971.



Le Moyne College


Allow college students in the woods of Amherst, Massachusetts, to come up with their own rite of spring and you can bet it will involve lots of drinking. Since 1998, the students at Hampshire College have rushed forth from their quarters once a year in early spring to hunt for colorful kegs of beer hidden in the forest.


The Easter Keg Hunt begins at dawn, following the kegs being placed throughout the woods on the previous night by groups of seniors, and typically sees every drop of ale consumed by noon, making for a day of revelry unlike any other at the small college.

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