During my first couple years of college, I dismissed the importance of homecoming to alumni. It was little more than a glorified football game with some social events afterwards that was amusing for students, but it could not possibly be enjoyable for alumni. I remember sitting perplexed as I watched a group of graduates bounce around the stands, greeting everyone with a seemingly impossible amount of enthusiasm to watch our team lose as per usual. In my mind, they had graduated and needed to move on with their lives. Their alma mater should not be that significant.
Now, as my last homecoming as an undergraduate student is passing, I understand the phenomenon of homecoming. It has nothing to do with trying to relive your college years and "glory days" or force yourself into events that are intended for those still attending the school. And it definitely has nothing to do with watching a football game, something few students even enjoy while attending the school.
Homecoming is instead about steeping yourself in that sense of home you nurtured during your four years at school. As a first year, I clearly did not understand the attachment I would form to Allegheny College. To me, it was simply a place I was giving money to in exchange for an education that would get me a fancy sheet of paper that states I am qualified to have some sort of job, but my school has come to mean much more than that to me. I have learned so many things beyond those in the classroom. I have nurtured relationships with my roommates and teammates that formed bonds between us, that molded us into a make-shift family. Just a few weeks ago while off campus at my parents' house, I found myself saying that I wanted to "go home." I did not mean the house where I grew up that I was currently in, but my on-campus apartment.
Alumni feel that same sense of coming home at homecoming. I know, this concept seems self-explanatory, but it is too easy to dismiss homecoming as a time for recent graduates to pretend they still fit in at college parties. Sure, they may be there to attend parties and the big game, but more than that, they come back to remember their home and the lessons they learned and bonds they formed. Your undergraduate years of college mold you into the individual you will become later in life.
More than the influence your home town had on you, your college will become a part of you; it was the first major life decision you made on your own, and it decides to pick you back as well if you will allow your college to be a part of your life beyond going to class and back. Through extracurriculars and friendships, the campus truly does become your home where you can always find your family. Coming back allows you to indulge in the nostalgia. You are there to thank your school for the lessons you learned and the skills you gained to be a better person.
All I have to say is, thank you, Allegheny, for becoming my home, and I hope to come back to you after I, too, graduate.