Six campus kickoff traditions

From student-built roller coasters to many, many handshakes

Emily Hatton, Staff WriterEmily Hatton, staff writer

Students arrive on campus this month, which means a flurry of move-ins, book-buying—and yes, parties—as many institutions also mark the beginning of the school year with distinct and memorable traditions.

The EAB Daily Briefing team rounded up six ways schools kick off the academic year. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In a tradition that students have resumed—after getting sidelined by building permit issues—upperclassmen design and construct a roller coaster for freshmen to ride during orientation.

Elon University

All new students receive an acorn at the end of New Student Convocation to symbolize the start of their higher education—and at graduation, each one receives an oak sapling marking their growth on campus and future growth as life-long learners.

Gettysburg College

During the First-Year Walk, new students trace the same path Abraham Lincoln did from Baltimore Street to the National Cemetery site where they hear a reading of the Gettysburg Address.

Knox College

The day before the first day of fall term, every person at the school lines up for "Pumphandle." One by one, each student, faculty member, staffer, and administrator shakes each other's hands.

Mercer University

While processing across campus—and led by bagpipers—freshmen rub the head of a founder Jesse Mercer statue before entering Convocation.

Before Baccalaureate, seniors just about to graduate make the same procession—also with bagpipes—and rub the statue's head again.

Bucknell University

The evening before classes kick off, students line up side-by-side along the Academic Quad, each holding a candle. Bucknell's president lights one to represent the "Light of Knowledge," and the flame passes to each student. Faculty, staff, and students then sing the alma mater to conclude the ceremony—which is repeated the night before commencement.

What are your school's orientation traditions? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.


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