Want to Be on the Homecoming Court? Here’s How

By now, you’ve surely heard that the 2011 Homecoming Court was announced. Maybe you’ve even seen the video of the Court members being surprised in class. If you’re an underclassman, you might be thinking to yourself, “Boy, that sure seems neat! How can I get onto the Homecoming Court?”

Allow me to run through the process with you. You can trust me, because I just went through it and I was rejected!

The Process

To get the most accurate feel for how next year’s process will work compared to this year’s, I talked to Leanna Usnik, the current Royalty Director of Homecoming. She assured me that, in all likelihood, the Royalty Court’s 2012 time frame will be the same as it was this year. That said, it’s possible that next year’s directors (who will be selected near the end of this semester) may change the timeline. If that happens, we will update this post accordingly.

The week after the Blue & White game (in mid- to late April), the first round of Homecoming Court nominations will take place. Anyone with a Penn State access account can nominate as many people as they want (as long as the nominee will graduate in the upcoming fall, spring, or summer). And don’t worry—they’re completely anonymous. No one who is nominated knows who nominated them or how many nominations they received. Those nominated during that week will receive an email informing them that they were nominated and to look out for the application in the fall.

During the first week of classes in the fall semester, a second round of nominations will open, following the same rules as the first round. At the end of that week, anyone who has received at least one nomination from either round will be sent an application form. The applicant will then fill out information about their involvement, leadership, community service, and academics while at Penn State. It will also include a couple of short essays—these are different every year, but are generally questions about your most meaningful Penn State experiences. Applications this year were due about five days after they were sent out.

After all of the applications have been received, a committee will blindly review them (no one’s name or contact information is on the actual application). They will then identify the strongest candidates and offer them interviews, to be completed the following week. The interview lasts about half an hour and is conducted by two or three Penn State faculty or staff members who have not seen your application. All topics are fair game, and, from my experience, the interview is very friendly in nature.

Once all semifinalists have been interviewed, the Homecoming Royalty Committee will select the Homecoming Student Court, consisting of five guys (no, not Five Guys) and five girls. During Homecoming week, students, faculty, and staff will vote on who they want to be selected as Homecoming King and Queen. The winners will be crowned, and a good time will be had by all.

To give you a better picture about the process, out of everyone who was nominated for the 2011 Homecoming Court, 64 applications were received, 22 interviews were given, and 10 people were eventually chosen for the Court. Although there will always be 10 finalists, the other two numbers change every year.

Summary: Nomination –> Application –> Interview –> Homecoming Court –> ??? –> Profit!

Tips and Tricks

  • It’s never too early to get started if you’re interested in being on the Homecoming Court during your senior year. Start getting involved in extracurriculars as soon as you can, and work your way up to leadership positions.
  • Spread the word to your friends. Ideally, if you’re a strong Homecoming Court candidate, you’ll receive a nomination (or several) with ease. That said, ask a friend to nominate you if you really want to get onto the Court. You can only get an application if you’ve been nominated, so just making sure that you’ve gotten a nomination before it’s too late is a good idea. Note that you only need one nomination to get an application; additional nominations don’t help or hurt you in any way.
  • Be thorough. When applying, don’t leave out any relevant experiences. They are looking for candidates who balance extracurriculars, leadership, and academics while embodying the spirit of Penn State, so the more you’ve been involved, the better.
  • BE REAL. I can’t stress this enough. You can’t fake Penn State passion, and if you try, it’ll be immediately clear that you’re full of shit (I speak from common sense for this point, not experience. My application and interview were both completely legit). This obviously applies to fabricating items on your application as well, but I’d like to assume that no one reading this would even think of doing that.
  • Don’t let rejection get you down. This year, less than half of the people who received an interview got onto the Homecoming Court. And only 1/3 of all applicants got an interview! If you don’t make the Homecoming Court, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t awesome. Brush your shoulders off and keep kicking ass.
In closing, if you’re interested in getting onto the Homecoming Court eventually, you should definitely apply. More strong applications can only lead to the best Homecoming Court possible. And with a lot of effort and a bit of luck, you may see yourself wearing a Homecoming sash, representing this wonderful university for students and alumni alike.

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About the Author

Evan Kalikow

Evan Kalikow co-founded Onward State in November 2008 with Davis Shaver and Eli Glazier. Having previously served as a Writer, Editor, Standards Editor, and Community Manager, Evan is now a proud alumnus of both Onward State and Penn State. He was also named "Person of the Year" by Time Magazine in 2006.

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