College Homecoming: Expectations Versus The Reality of Returning to Your Alma Mater

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College is often referred to as the best four years of your life, and to be fair, there's a lot to love about those four years of pulling all-nighters, dorm room drinking, and (sorta) free dining hall food, but once we graduate, things change... quickly. Just as soon as you start to get used to life outside of the college bubble, something happens that suddenly brings you to a standstill: it's time for college homecoming. To go, or not to go?

Alma mater translates to "nourishing mother" in Latin. Sounds safe enough, right? Wrong. As wonderful as your college years were, homecoming can be a lot to handle. I’m all for reliving the glory days, but there’s just something about spending a weekend back on campus revisiting your old haunts that can mess with a person still coming to terms with being a full-fledged grownup. Returning for homecoming definitely has its perks (hello, football tailgating and alumni barbecues), but college homecoming is also likely to pull out some deep-seated emotions, too. In a way, your college was your home, and now it's not anymore.

So what's likely to happen? Well, lots of things. It will probably end up being a great experience — you'll never know unless you take the risk and check the "yes" box on your RSVP. Just be ready for anything. That's all I'm trying to say.

Expectation: You'll run into all your old college friends, and it will be just like old times.

Reality: None of your old college friends will show up, and you won't recognize anyone in attendance.

Expectation: Your favorite professor will instantly recognize you and want to know all about your life these days.

Reality: You'll have to reintroduce yourself to your favorite professor, who has taught literally thousands of students over the years and can only smile at you blankly when you start to reminisce over how much that "Intro to Shakespeare" class really meant to you.

Expectation: You'll be showered with food, fun, and gifts.

Reality: You'll be showered with food, fun, and gifts — and then you'll be asked to donate to the school.

Expectation: Being back will feel just like it used to, you know, when you were running the place.

Reality: The campus will be filled with baby-faced freshmen who have never heard of you before, because your legacy was no match for the constant inflow of new students.

Expectation: You decide to go stag, sure that you'll enjoy the night more without having to introduce your date to everyone.

Reality: You end up desperately wishing you had brought a crutch who could at least stand with you in the corner.

Expectation: You'll feel accomplished when you look back at how far you've come since college.

Reality: Someone will announce the afternoon's keynote speakers with glorious introductions that go on for three minutes, and you'll suddenly realize all of them are from your graduating class.

Expectation: You'll end up leaving with some rekindled friendships, a handful of business cards, and, hey, maybe some guy's phone number.

Reality: None of these things will happen. Instead you'll have a few drinks too many, pull an "Elaine" on the dance floor, and call it a night.

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