Ah, homecoming time. The familiar ritual of the big game, the sea of people in school colors and that sense of nostalgia that hits hard when the drum line stands at attention. There are so many memorable places and faces you can’t wait to see, despite the fact that it’s been years since you strolled across the stage, diploma in hand.

But truth be told, we’re not quite as carefree as we once were, and these days, attending homecoming is less about flying by the seat of our pants and more about making sure we know how to maximize our time. If we’re out-of-towners, we’ll take a plush, quiet hotel room over crashing on a couch with a group of friends, however beloved. And instead of bumming a lift to the events, we’ll have a comfortable flight and a sharp ride parked in the hotel lot. We’re still down for (almost) everything; we’re just ready to refine the experience. Luckily, with a little time and attention to detail, the next homecoming will go down in the history books.

Be Prepared

Book your flights early and make sure you secure your tickets to the big game. With homecoming crowds averaging in the tens of thousands at popular schools such as Howard and Florida A&M universities, trying to score last-minute tickets for events is a gamble you can’t afford. “I start scouting out hotel rooms at least six months ahead of time,” says Florida A&M alumna DaShawn Arnold, who has attended her school’s homecoming every other year since she graduated in 2000. “And I always know which party is on which night, so I get those [tickets] before they sell out as well.”

City Scenes

Heading to Howard’s legendary homecoming? In addition to visiting the area of the White House—to catch a glimpse of our favorite first family, perhaps—Washington, D.C., has a ton of kid-friendly places to check out. In fact, no matter where you’re celebrating, search for activities that may not have existed when you were an undergrad. You’ll come away with more priceless memories and a renewed appreciation for a beloved city.

Read more in the September 2015 issue of EBONY Magazine.