As a soon-to-be UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, I’ve recently completed all the senior traditions, sentimental occasions, and other nonsense. All I have to do is take my final exams and walk across a stage and I’ll be launched off into life’s next chapter.
I mentioned in previous blogs that I’m not exactly a “Tar Heel born and bred” — I was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and attending UNC was a somewhat last-minute decision. Nonetheless, I’ve become incredibly attached to Carolina in my time here, and I felt dutifully compelled to engage in all the normal senior traditions before graduating.
The truth is, not all the traditions were totally worth doing. In hopes of saving some future seniors time and money, I have provided a brief recap of the traditions I enjoyed, and the ones that I could have gone without.
Senior Bar Golf — worth it
Senior Bar Golf is an event in which seniors dress up in “preppy” golf clothes and go to the local bars. There is a list of “holes,” each being a bar, and people “play golf” by ordering certain drinks at each bar. There are no bar cover fees, and most of the drinks aren’t too expensive, but winning bar golf definitely isn’t cheap.
Personally, I didn’t play the golf game at Senior Bar Golf. I don’t think the game is the fun part. What makes this tradition worth it is getting to visit all the Chapel Hill bars one more time and seeing tons of friends from your class. The lines at the bars are super long, but this is part of the fun because you have time to chat with friends who you bump into or who are walking by while you wait in line. The night is incredibly lively so you never know who or what you’ll encounter as you travel through the bars. Even though this tradition is a bit pricy, I definitely enjoyed it and believe it was one of my most unique senior memories.
Drinking from the Old Well — avoid it
This one isn’t just for seniors, but especially for seniors, this tradition just isn’t worth it. The lore is that drinking from the Old Well on the first day of class will guarantee you a 4.0 that semester. Of course, this promise of straight A’s has been broken thousands of times over, but people still say the drink is good luck.
The reason I think this tradition isn’t quite worth it is that anyone can drink from the Old Well on any day. There is nothing different about the Old Well on the first day of class other than the massive line to approach it. This tradition is free, and on a pretty day, you may not mind waiting a bit for your turn. However, for a busy senior who isn’t interested in waiting in a line of mostly first-years, this tradition just isn’t worth it.
Going to the Duke vs. UNC basketball game — worth it
The biggest basketball game of the year is the UNC vs. Duke home game. Not only does this game showcase the greatest rivalry in college sports, but you can attend it for free if you win a ticket in the student lottery.
I’ll cut to the chase— this experience is absolutely worth it for any UNC senior. The Duke game is one of my most cherished college memories. But this tradition can be a serious pain in the butt, and it’s hard to make the most of it without getting some good advice from past seniors.
I would recommend lining up early if you get a phase 1 ticket, but if you get any other phase, it isn’t worth standing outside
Climbing the Bell Tower — avoid it
Climbing the Bell Tower is definitely the worst tradition I attempted to do. The idea is that one day in the spring all the seniors can line up outside the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower and take turns going inside. Once inside, students can walk up the stairs and write their names on the bricks with permanent markers. The names will be washed off within a
The problem with this tradition is the “fast pass” line. To get a fast pass, a senior has to donate $20+ to the senior gift as well as join the General Alumni Association (GAA), which has a $30 fee annually. This is a little more than what most seniors want to pay for a short trip into a little bell tower, so the majority of seniors end up in the regular line. However, the system is set up so that the regular line almost never moves. Students are only let into the bell tower every 10 or 15 minutes in a one-in-one-out fashion, and the fast pass line gets priority no matter what. Fast pass students trickle into line slowly, but fast enough to always be numerous enough to be the only ones going into the tower. The students in the regular line, who have been waiting around for 5 hours, are never allowed into the bell tower unless there are zero people in the fast pass line, which is virtually never the case. This makes for an extremely long line for the students unwilling to pay. Students can overheat, get sunburned, and skip class and meals for their 15-minute excursion into a dim little tower with tiny windows.
I did end up going inside the bell tower. It was mildly interesting, and I did get some cute pictures on the lower outdoor area. But ultimately, it was not worth the wait and also not worth $50+ to enter. Unless you’ve got money to blow or tons of time to spare, I would absolutely avoid this UNC tradition. You’re a senior, you’ve got way more fun and interesting things to do.
That’s it for this mini guide to senior traditions! I hope this helped you figure out some of the traditions that you want to participate in. Go Heels!