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Top 10 Colleges with Unique Traditions

Posted: 09/04/2012 7:13 pm

One of the best parts of college are those crazy nights where everyone participates in a tradition, from naked bike rides to midnight chants. Today's 2013 Unigo College Rankings list tips its hat to the schools where students felt they had one of the wackiest traditions around!

The Top 10 Colleges Where Streaking in the Quad is Just Another Tuesday

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  • 10. Northwestern University

    <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students are saying about Northwestern on</strong></a> Fittingly for a school with a wildcat as its mascot, the traditions practiced by students at Northwestern University are more than a little animalistic. At football games, the student body is known to growl land claw at the air in an impression of their mascot while the other team is in possession of the ball. (The practice of throwing marshmallows on the field was discontinued.) Three times year, at 9 p.m. on the Sunday before finals week, the students takes part in the Primal Scream, momentarily shaking off the strain of cramming for exams in what is doubtlessly a harrowing sound for anyone unaware of the tradition. Finally, there’s Mayfest, a spring tradition that commemorates the, “renunciation of the May Queen of the temporal world for a spiritual one.” The week Mayfest culminates in Armadillo Day (or just “Dillo Day”), which was created in 1972 by Northwestern students from Texas to celebrate one of the iconic animals of their home state. These days, Dillo Day is an all-day party with free food and a lakefront concert, but its decidedly un-Chicagoan origins still give it a feeling of quirkiness.

  • 9. Tufts University

    <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students are saying about Tufts on</strong></a> Since the 1970s, students of Tufts University have taken the night before the start of the winter reading period – right before the start of exams – as an opportunity to throw caution and their pants to the wind. Called the Naked Quad Run, the tradition started right around the time the all-male Tufts University combined with the all-female Jackson College, and had been going strong for over three decades. Unfortunately, like many clothing optional college events, the Naked Quad Run was shut down by the administration, citing safety concerns, after its incarnation in 2010. Not to be deterred, the students instead held the “Excessively Overdressed Quad Stroll” in its place in December of 2011. It's yet to be seen if the new version of this tradition will catch on, but if nothing else, it must be more comfortable to face the Boston winter with more clothes on, not fewer.

  • 8. Occidental College

    <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students are saying about Occidental on</strong></a> Occidental's weirdest tradition may not be as flashy as those of some of the other schools on this list, but it's sure to make a lasting impression on each of its students. It's the Birthday Dunk, and it's pretty much what it sounds like. Every year on their special day, an Occidental student is likely to find him or herself heaved into the Lucille Gilman Memorial Fountain, designed by former Sculpture professor George Baker and built with the help of Occidental students in 1979. The birthday boy or girl is generally taken by surprise, and could be hustled out to their watery fate at any time of day – students have even been taken from classes to get their ceremonial toss in the fountain. But prospective students with birthdays in December or January shouldn't be too worried – Occidental's LA location means you're more likely to find the dip refreshing than hypothermia inducing.

  • 7. Vassar College

    <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students are saying about Vassar on</strong></a> More than any other school on this list, Vassar College is an institution that takes its crazy traditions seriously – in fact, most of these events have been around since the early years of the school in one form or another. Perhaps the oddest tradition, and the one that’s most changed from its origin, is the practice of serenading. Originally called “step-singing,” the event invited each class to create and perform an original class song, to be performed during a march through the campus. There’s still some singing today – the freshman class does write an original piece for the event, often roasting the seniors in the lyrics – but the orderly marching has transformed into a free-for-all food fight with ketchup and chocolate syrup flying every which way. In recent years the collateral damage of the condiment war has gotten so severe that the administration had to institute a “water only” policy, turning the sticky scuffle into more or a water balloon battle.

  • 6. University of Connecticut

    <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students are saying about UConn on</strong></a> Students at the University of Connecticut are passionate about their athletics– especially when it comes to basketball – and like any school with a deep love of competitive sports, the student body has more than its fair share of fight songs and chants it can break out during a game. You can find those at many schools, of course, and while the Huskies may be outstanding in the level of their devotion, there are other school traditions that set them apart even more. Take OOzeball: for nearly three decades, UConn students have gathered every spring in teams of six – these days, always three boys and three girls – to play in this “Mud Volleyball” tournament. Meanwhile hundreds of spectators – presumably those students who’d rather stay clean – watch their classmates get dirty in eight inches of mud made especially for the game. After a day of competition, the winning team walks away with a cash prize and, presumably, enough mud on their bodies they’ll be washing it off for days.

  • 5. University of Colorado at Boulder

    <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students are saying about Colorado on</strong></a> It’s a fair bet to say that the tradition that lands the University of Colorado at Boulder on this list makes the Tufts Naked Quad Run look like an ice-cream social by comparison. The school’s administration may not admit this, but the celebration of 4/20 on this campus is infamous for its size and its potency. As many as 10,000 people – some students, some outsiders – gather on the university’s Norlin Quad every April for what has got to be one of the biggest campus smoke outs in the US. While some students light up in a show of support for marijuana legalization, others are simply looking for a way to relax as finals draw near. While the administration doesn’t sic campus police on the revelers, it has taken steps to curtail the celebration: it closed off the campus to outside visitors in 2012 in an effort to maintain a bit more order – though the student body is probably never more laid back.

  • 4. Barnard College

    <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students are saying about Barnard on</strong></a> The traditions passed down at Barnard College throughout the years go right for the most vulnerable spot of all college students – their stomachs. While some student bodies lose their clothes or erupt in a campus-wide howl to release some pressure before finals begin, the kids at Barnard enjoy the Midnight Breakfast, in which delectable breakfast foods are dished out by the faculty and staff to the studied-out students. Each breakfast comes with its own theme, and truly the whole community gets involved – even the President is there to help serve the nocturnal meal. More impressive, though – and certainly more unexpected – is the traditional construction and consumption of “the big sub.” Every year, the students make a giant sandwich that literally stretches across the campus, chowing down once the gargantuan dish is completed. Each year, another foot is added to the length of the sub, which has already surpassed a length of one mile long. First-year students may want to give up the fight against the freshman fifteen right now.

  • 3. Reed College

    <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students are saying about Reed on</strong></a> The students of Reed College pride themselves on being unique, and their annual traditions support their claim. The end of the year is a particularly active time for such events, including two of the biggest. On the Thursday before Renn Fayre – more on that in a moment – comes the Seventh Annual Nitrogen Day, a time when the school celebrates the under-appreciated seventh element of the periodic table with music, free food, and a haiku recital. After this somewhat unexpected display of chemical devotion comes the aforementioned Renn Fayre, which started as a one-day celebration that attempted to turn the campus into as faithful reproduction of Renaissance Europe as possible. These days, the Fayre has expanded to a three-day affair that kicks off with seniors burning their thesis notes. In the days that follow, the Fayre can include everything from human chess games to naked slip-n-slides to bicycle jousting, but one of the highlights is the Glo Opera, a concert performed in the dark, lie only by students wielding EL wire and glow sticks.

  • 2. Cornell University

    <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students are saying about Cornell on</strong></a> Cornell University is known for being a high-pressure environment, so it's only natural that its students would come up with some truly impressive ways to blow off steam – and the yearly tradition of Dragon Day is quite the spectacle. On the Friday before spring break, students of the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, decked out in elaborate costumes, parade a giant model dragon around the Cornell campus, eventually coming to rest in the Arts Quad. Once there, the structure is set on fire in the midst of a reveling student body. While that sounds strange enough, the day also highlights the rivalry between the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and the College of Engineering – students of which shout jeers along the parade route and play a large role in the eventual destruction of the dragon.

  • 1. Virginia Tech

    <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students are saying about Virginia Tech on</strong></a> In earlier days, Virginia Tech required that all able-bodied male students participate in the Reserve Officers Training Corps, and while that's no longer essential for enrollment, the university is one of the few to have a mix of cadet and civilian life on campus. This lead to the creation of the school's quirkiest tradition, the annual Cadet vs. Civilian Snowball Fight. Generally occurring during the first big snowfall of the year, the fight kicks off with the pulling of a fire alarm, which gets the student body out on a grassy stretch of land known as the Drillfield – which is where the snow starts flying. The better-prepared students even up the ante by bringing weaponry like water balloon launchers, while the cadets use their training (and sometimes a bugle horn) to strike in more organized formation. While the fight can get a little rowdy – a bloody nose here or there is not unheard of – most students think of the event as a great way to meet new people and enjoy the start of the winter season.

Want to learn more about these schools? Click on the link in the slide to visit their profiles where you can talk to current students about what life is really like on campus!

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