Do colleges have prom? Do colleges have dances like high school?
If you’re about to start college, you may wonder whether you should expect a prom or other dance. And it’s a reasonable question — most high schools have prom, homecoming, and other dances, so why shouldn’t it be the same in college?
But the answer is that most colleges don’t have prom, or any equivalent.
There are a few reasons why colleges don’t have prom:
1. Too Large For Prom
The average American high school has 850 students. Since most high school proms are only for upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) this means the average number of attendees for a high school prom is probably around 400 to 500 students.
On the other hand, the average university in the United States has 6,354 students. Some of the largest universities in the country have more than 60,000 students.
It would be very difficult to plan a prom for such a large number of attendees. The logistics of planning an event for 500 attendees is very different from the logistics of planning an event for 5,000 attendees (or even more!)
So one big reason that colleges don’t have prom is because it would simply be too big of an event to plan and manage.
2. It Would Be A Liability
A university-sanctioned prom event would be a major liability. Most higher education institutions don’t want to deal with the potential issues that could arise.
As mentioned, a college prom would be a huge affair. Unlike high school proms, which typically have a small number of adult chaperones to make sure things don’t get out of control, a college prom would be hard to monitor with thousands of attendees.
There’s also the problem of alcohol. In the United States, all high school students are below the legal drinking age of 21, and alcohol is forbidden at high school proms.
But with many college students being over the age of 21, it would be very hard to limit alcohol and this could become a huge problem.
3. Prom Is A High School Tradition
Finally, prom is mainly just a high school tradition. It’s an important milestone for many high schoolers, and it’s a major event that students look forward to.
But that just isn’t the case in college. Although prom might be something you eagerly look forward to as a teenager, you may find that it’s not as important to you in college.
College students typically have a very different social life than high schoolers, and so a school-wide dance like prom just isn’t a top priority. While prom is a memorable high school tradition, you probably won’t experience it again during college.
However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any dances like prom in college.
Other Prom-Like Events In College
While colleges don’t have prom, there are other events that are similar in nature.
If you enjoyed prom in high school and are looking forward to similar events in college, here are some of the best ways to enjoy a similar experience:
Greek Life Events
Greek life organizations often host dances like formals, semi-formals, and other social events. Joining a sorority or fraternity is one of the best ways to go to a dance in college.
Most sororities host formal dances and semi-formal dances, as well as other social affairs that may involve dancing like mixers and date nights.
Fraternities also host formals and other social events.
Some students will even jokingly call Greek life formals “college prom” because of the similar atmosphere of dressing up, taking photos with your date, and attending a dance at a venue.
So if you’re looking for a prom experience, joining Greek life and attending social events is probably the closest thing you’ll get.
Other Organization Events
Sororities and fraternities are not the only campus organizations that host formals and other dances. So if Greek life isn’t your style, there are still other organizations you can join that host prom-like events.
Cultural organizations often host social events including dances. So do spirit clubs and other social organizations for college students.
You might even find that academic organizations (such as major-specific clubs) or college residence halls plan social events like dances.
One high school tradition that is typically carried over to college is homecoming. However, don’t expect the same type of homecoming dance you may have had in high school.
Homecoming in college is like a massive reunion-meets-party, and it’s a big deal for students and alumni alike. It’s an annual event where everyone comes together to celebrate their college pride and reminisce about the good ol’ days.
Usually held in the fall, homecoming centers around a major football game and the campus vibe during this time is electric. People go all out with their school spirit, decking themselves head to toe in college colors and merch.
The heart and soul of homecoming is, of course, the football game. There are also tons of activities throughout the week, from epic parades showcasing creatively designed floats to concerts, themed parties, and other events.
Prom (And Prom Equivalents) In College
Although most colleges don’t have your typical prom, you can find other dances and social events to attend in college.
Socializing in college is totally different than in high school, and since most universities in the United States are 10x to 100x larger than the average high school, you’ll do most of your socializing within smaller groups.
This could mean sororities and fraternities if you join Greek life, cultural organizations, spirit clubs, student government associations, or other social organizations.
All of these groups tend to plan formal dances and other social events that slightly resemble prom. These dances can vary in style, theme, and formality, catering to a diverse range of student interests. From formal balls and prom-like events to casual social dance nights, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Although to be in honest, you’ll probably be having such a blast in college that you won’t miss high school prom at all!