At historically Black colleges and universities, homecoming is more than a football game—it’s like a family reunion during college football season, where the who’s who, of both the past and present, return to campus—decked out in their university sweatshirts and Greek letters—for that one weekend just to relish the place that helped shape them during such formative years.

Of course, very little of that weekend has anything to do with a football game. Sure, people make their way into the stadium around halftime to catch award-winning bands and watch the dancers that come along with them, but instead of cheering for their team throughout the game, like you’d imagine, students, alumni and everyone in between gather right outside the stadium to tailgate, reconnect and bask in the type of fellowship that only HBCUs can bring.

For HBCU graduates, homecoming is more than just a chance to come back to the yard and reminisce. It is a chance not only to reconnect with old friends, but also to be renewed by the experiences you shared with them. It is a time to be re-energized and know that you are not the only one breaking barriers and overcoming obstacles.

Planning to visit a place you once called home isn’t always easy, especially when, over the years, you’ve lost touch with the town or have few or no friends still living there. But homecoming really is such a special event, you should try your best not to miss it.

The first thing you should decide when returning to your old stomping grounds for homecoming is whether you want to host your own tailgate. A tailgate is like an outdoor picnic, except on steroids. In a predetermined location, someone sets up with food, alcohol and music to act as a “home base” during the game for family and friends. Sounds simple enough. However, tailgates range in size and can get quite serious. Although it’s easier to prepare food before you leave your house, and then just set it out when you arrive to the tailgate, some people take food preparation to a new level by hitching a grill to their truck and grilling out at their tailgate spots. Some fans even bring a generator so that they can set up TVs to watch other college football games throughout the day.

Because tailgating is also kind of a sport, typically the people who host them live in or near that town, because traveling with all those items can become overwhelming. If you plan on flying or are driving a long distance, I’d say skip hosting your own and find one you can join.

On game days, usually, the entire parking lot turns into one large tailgate, so there will be many to choose from. Walk around and I’m certain you’ll run into someone you once knew. Also, people are extremely friendly on game days (a lot of that has to do with all the alcohol they consume), so don’t be afraid to make friends and share your experiences of college life.

If you aren’t comfortable with either of those options, consider a tailgate being thrown by your school or any organizations you were a part of while you were there. You’ll be surprise by just how many tailgates are taking place.

As everyone knows, homecoming is about much more than just a game. In fact, people usually make a weekend out of it. But if you’re traveling back for the first time in a while, you might be a little lost as to what you should do with all your time. Because there are so many people on and near campus that weekend, there is always something to do. One of the best ways to find events, aside from being invited by friends, is through the internet.

Social media websites, such as Facebook, allow you to search for events by choosing a date, location and category. Party hosts typically post their events to Facebook because they know it will reach a ton of people. And the best part about Facebook is it allows you to see which of your friends are also interested in or are attending the event. A quick search for Washington, D.C. during Howard’s homecoming weekend showed me that Alkaline was hosting a Reggae Fest that Saturday at the Howard Theatre.

Another great website you can use as reference is Eventbrite. Here, you’ll find a more substantial list of events. However, it won’t show you which of your friends are also attending. Searching for an event on Eventbrite is simple. Just type in “homecoming,” choose the city where your HBCU is located, and then select “any date.” Within seconds, pages of options will be available. You can even purchase tickets to these events on the website.

A few HBCUs, such as Alabama A&M and Lincoln University in Missouri, have already had their homecomings. But most schools typically schedule theirs for this month. On Oct. 7, North Carolina A&T, known by many to have “the greatest homecoming on Earth,” had its annual bash. Florida A&M will host its homecoming Oct. 14, and Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, Hampton and Howard will all celebrate their homecomings Oct. 21. For a full list of HBCU homecomings, click here to visit the Event Greek website.

Megan Pinckney (@shadesofpinck) is a retired beauty queen turned lifestyle blogger who loves exploring the world and writing about it.