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First Year Experience

Our Traditions

Keuka College opened its doors in 1890 and as you might expect, it has established many traditions over the years. These traditions reflect the College’s longstanding commitment to social responsibility and experiential, hands-on learning, as well as its mission to foster the personal and academic development of students.

Meeting and Signing of the Oars

Prior to the start of the fall semester, members of the freshman class autograph oars at a class meeting. The oars symbolically confirm the students’ membership in the freshman class.


The fall semester kicks off with academic convocation, where new students are officially welcomed to campus by the College president and words of wisdom and encouragement are delivered by the reigning professor of the year. The autographed oars are presented to the president at this event.

Family Weekend

Family Weekend is held in late September and allows moms, dads, siblings and others to see how “their college student” is progressing at college. There are also performances by College groups and usually some fall sports action.

Celebrate Service… Celebrate Yates

Since 1998, students—in conjunction with the Yates County Chamber of Commerce—have organized a community service day in April. Students, faculty, staff, and area residents come together to perform various tasks for such organizations as Camp Good Days and Special Times, Dundee Youth Center, Rainbow Junction, churches, fire departments, and others.

May Day Weekend

Perhaps the most storied of all Keuka College traditions is May Day Weekend. Among the highlights are Honors Convocation, where students are recognized for their academic achievements; and the Leadership/Moving Up Ceremony, where students are cited for their leadership roles in clubs and activities, and classes symbolically “graduate” to the next level (freshmen take their place as sophomores, sophomores take their place as juniors, and juniors move up to seniors).

Spring Weekend

Spring Weekend is the last planned get-together for students prior to final exams and the capstone event of the academic year: commencement. The event features plenty of food and music and a variety of activities.