StudyAdvantage Magazine

5 Weird College Traditions in America

Published: November 18, 2016

Strange things tend to happen when you gather thousands of young, driven and creative individuals in one place for hundreds of years. StudyAdvantage takes a look at the top five most peculiar student traditions across America.


  1. Polar Bear Swims, Dartmouth College


Dartmouth, set in rural Vermont, gets very cold in the winter. Swimming in the nearby lakes in the middle of winter is advised against – so, naturally, this is what students do. During Winter Carnival, Dartmouth students drill a hole in the ice of nearby Occom Pond and jump in with a rope tied around their waist (as if they cared about safety).

Click here to learn more about Dartmouth College


  1. Orgo Night, 
Columbia University


The exam in organic chemistry is among the biggest challenges for undergraduate students at Columbia University in New York. Many students remember it as the most stressful event throughout their entire academic career. The course simply demands many hours of studies in the library – preferably without distractions. This is precisely why every year, on the night before the “orgo” final, the Columbia marching band invades the library to perform the fight song and crack jokes.

This tradition is a great way for exam-takers to take their minds off their studies for a while before the big challenge.

Click here to learn more about Columbia University


Read our student blogs from Columbia University:

Mathilda Herlin, ’17

Pierre Chardot, ’20


  1. Primal Scream, Harvard University
Harvard streaking


In the cold, Massachusetts autumn night, naked undergraduate students at Harvard partake in the annual Primal Scream run. Wearing nothing but shoes, hordes of students run the route around campus together, yelling their lungs out in celebration of the beginning of exam period.

The tradition dates back to the 1960s, when students screamed from their dormitory windows for 10 minutes straight the night before final exams.

Click here to learn more about Harvard University


  1. Dragon Day, Cornell University


Inspired by the legend of St. Patrick luring the snakes out of Ireland, Cornell University’s annual Dragon Day is the perfect way to kick off spring break. First year architecture students design and construct the dragon model used in the colorful and festive procession. The event very much resembles that of Chinese New Years carnival.

Click here to learn more about Cornell University


Read our student blogs from Cornell University:

Gaia De Ponti, ’17


  1. Healy Howl,
 Georgetown University
Georgetown Healy Howl


Partly shot on the Georgetown University premises, the 1973 classic “The Exorcist” has naturally become a favorite among students. The school organizes an on-campus screening of the film every Halloween. As if this wasn’t spooky enough, following the film, all viewers head to the campus cemetery where they all join in to collectively howl at the moon at midnight.

Click here to learn more about Georgetown University


Read our student blogs from Georgetown University:

Yuki Shimizu, ’17

Uzayr Agha ’18



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