Opinion | College homecoming is better than high school


Clare Sheedy | Assistant Visual Editor

Fireworks over the Cathedral of Learning at Pitt Program Council’s Homecoming Laser and Fireworks show in fall 2021.

By Emily O'Neil, For The Pitt News

While high school and college homecoming closely resemble each other, the community that college homecoming creates makes it more rewarding and enjoyable. 

Homecoming is a tradition that began at various universities throughout the U.S. in the early 1900s as a fall celebration, welcoming alumni back for the first football game of the season. College homecoming events engage the school community and typically culminate with a football game.

Pitt’s homecoming dates back to the 1940s, when students and alumni came together to perform skits, make floats for a parade and elect a homecoming court. This year, Pitt started off its homecoming celebration Monday with a kick-off event offering free t-shirts, food and music. Pitt also held a scavenger hunt on Tuesday, and will hold a Hail 2 Paint Night on Wednesday, a “Roc Talk” with former football player Tre Tipton on Thursday and the Blue & Gold Bash on Friday. 

Specific Pitt schools and programs, such as the School of Computing and Information on Thursday and School of Law on Friday, are hosting their own activities. The week will end with an exciting Saturday football game against Virginia Tech and fun alumni tailgate where students can expand their Pitt community even further. 

One of my favorite activities is “the snake,” where the Pitt band marches around campus and performs outside the Cathedral of Learning. 

Compared to high school homecoming, college homecoming — filled with a sense of community, tradition and spirit — is more impactful. In college, alumni connect with former classmates, and students learn from alumni who have been in the same place as them during homecoming, whereas in high school, homecoming tends to focus on superficial school dances, spirit week and dance proposals. It’s more about the current student body than an entire community. 

Even nominations for homecoming king or queen often turn into a trivial popularity contest in high school, and these titles heteronormativity. As society re-evaluates gender roles, it’s important to get rid of traditions that might isolate some students. 

Pitt’s Alumni Association removed the “antiquated” gendered titles of homecoming king and queen in 2020, opting instead for two gender-inclusive “Spirit of Pitt” winners. This change shows Pitt’s commitment to inclusion on campus, and is a step other universities and high schools should take. 

College homecoming is steeped in rich traditions that make celebrations unique at every university. College students should appreciate the resources and community that homecomings create and make sure to connect with alumni visiting campus.

Emily O’Neil writes primarily about societal issues, politics and campus life. Write to her at [email protected].