In high school, homecoming can seem like EVERYTHING at the time. It’s all everyone can talk about… Who is going to ask me? What will I wear? Where will we take pictures or go to dinner? Limo or party bus? These are just some of the questions on the minds of high school students during homecoming season.

Once you’re in college, homecoming shifts from high maintenance pageantry to more of a laid back social event or for some, a networking opportunity.   

Here are five differences between high school and college homecoming celebrations.     

1. From thinking about going back to your alma mater, to actually going back to your alma mater – college tends to generate a stronger alumni spirit (depending on what high school you come from). The term homecoming spawns from the idea of alumni coming home to their alma maters. When you come back to your high school football games and events year after year, people start to label you as that person that is “stuck in high school”. College is different. Once you step foot on campus as a student, you are forever apart of that university’s family. It is definitely more acceptable to return to your college alma mater than your high school. 

2. From dress shopping to hitting up the student store – during homecoming season girls flock to the mall and fashion districts to dress shop. Homecoming seems to revolve around what dress you’re going to wear. Luckily, in college there is no pressure to find or buy an extravagant dress. Instead, students hit up the student store for university apparel to get in the school spirit! 

3. From dates to potential employers – in high school it’s all about who is taking who and how they will ask. A lot of attention and time is spent on finding the perfect date and the perfect way to ask. After you graduate from high school and move on to the big bad world of college, finding the perfect date during homecoming season turns into finding alumni to network with. Homecoming weekend is a great opportunity to meet alumni that can help with internships, future jobs or putting you in contact with the right people. Instead of finding the perfect date, college students focus on finding the perfect alumnus or alumna to network with. 

4. From varsity football to D 1, 2, 3, etc. – let’s face it, no matter what division your university’s team is, it’s still WAY better than high school football. The players are bigger and better and the halftime show is definitely bigger and better. Chapman University’s homecoming halftime show usually entails fireworks or laser shows while the most exciting part of high school halftime is the marching band.  

5. From queens and kings to well... college doesn’t usually have a popularity contest like this – although winning homecoming queen or king may seem like everything your senior year of high school, coming to college makes you realize how trivial this tradition is. There really is no point to it besides the popular kids getting more recognition and a tiara. College homecoming is more focused around camaraderie and school spirit!   

Whether you’re in high school or college, homecoming can be a very special time of the year. However you celebrate, it definitely stems a greater appreciation for your school spirit and those who share it. Happy homecoming season!