I'm so glad I went to Howard U (and not any of the lesser institutions).Yes Lord! I done, done, done what ya told me to do and graduated from Howard, twice. Proudly there on hilltop high, I am a 'Howard Girl'. I've seen my share of Howard homecoming celebrations. Some are cautionary tales. Others were truly fabulous. Through the years, I've learned the following lessons, in no particular order.

1. Stay in your lane. If you remember when HU registration involved long lines and pink print-outs, you should not look to local hip-hop radio stations for homecoming guidance. If you remember when the U Street area was extra cracky, you should not attend any events where rappers (born after 1975) are scheduled to perform. Doing so means you're the old man or woman at the club. You may not care, but your presence will make everyone else uncomfortable. Don't fret, however. An age that starts with a three or four does not mean you cannot participate. Seek settings with ample elbow room, efficient bartenders and comfy seating.

If you can dance hard, for an entire extended remix that includes Drake, Lil Wayne, and/or Rick Ross (grunt), you probably won't have a great time at a party full of people whose first radio pre-set is NPR. If, in the past year, you have stayed out so late that your night ended with breakfast, a shower, and getting to work on time, you enjoy events that are crowded and loud. That set-up is designed for you. Enjoy it now because you won't always be able to party like you do not need eight solid hours of sleep!

2. Protect your brand. With the availability of smart phones, YouTube, and Twitter, you do not want to be the person made famous for a public faux pas. Fellas, this means leave your seventeen-button, Detroit Red suits at home. Gordon Gartrelle shirts coupled with creased jeans should also be avoided. And please do NOT walk around with a Bluetooth thingy in your ear.

Ladies, please make sure everything is secure. You don't want to be the lady who lost her lace-front because she attempted an aggressive whop or wobble. You also need to get your 'foundations' game together. Tighten up those butts and guts. And, please break your shoes in before you hit the streets. Walking around like a Monolophosaurus is never cute. Never!

3. Avoid the 'math face.' If you are a small or medium baller pretending to be big, check your accounts before you hit the streets. If you need to put money on your Rush card, do it early. Don't wait until after you've ordered table service and the bill comes. There's nothing sadder than a grownup looking at their bill, brow knitted, trying to remember which one of their cards, if any, will be able to cover the bill. And do not over-spend! You'll need your money when you return to your real life. Nobody has ever gotten away with telling Sallie Mae she will not get her money because it was spent on club admission, outfits and table service!

4. Have a clear strategy for partying. Events catering to respectable people usually allow advanced tickets. Buy them! If you do not plan ahead, you may find yourself in a tight crowd wondering if that was a concealed weapon that just rubbed against your elbow. Trust me on this.

5. Prepare for the morning after. I'm no doctor but I've done my share of partying AND paying for it. While I've never had a severe hang-over, I've been 'sluggishdinnamug' the next day. Before you go out, eat. Stay hydrated at all costs, especially if you are over 30.

Ladies, be sure to remove your makeup before you lay down. If you are young, your skin appears to be forgiving. It is not. Remove your makeup and follow your normal nightly routine. If you don't have one, get one. You'll thank me in about twelve years when you have the skin of a tween and your cohorts have skin that looks like a crumpled piece of paper.

6. Ground transportation is the hotness. You know what's not hot in the street? Vehicular homicide, drunk driving and DUI's! If you're grown enough to party, you're grown enough to arrange transportation. I suggest hiring a car service, assigning a designated driver or staying in a hotel and catching cabs everywhere. If you go the cab route, starting Thursday night, get contact information for every cab driver you use. Let them know you will be using them all weekend. When the night is ending, contact them all. Those that show up after you left won't be mad because there will always be someone else who needs a cab.

7. Schedule a daily nap. Often we get caught up in all the excitement and underestimate the power of a mid-day nap. They energize you for the second half of the day and they build character. Studies show that 94 percent of people who are angry on weekend evenings did not have a nap earlier in the day. OK, I made that up but naps are an integral part of a successful homecoming and recovery.

8. Stay out of Marvin's Room. For the love of effective communication, lock your phones so that you are unable to drunk dial, text, IM, Tweet, Facebook, etc. Basically, do not try to communicate with anyone unless it is an absolute emergency.

Through proper planning and execution, you can make this the best Howard homecoming ever! Don't mess it up by ignoring the pointers presented. But if you do, there's always next year!

L. Killings is a blogger living the semi-charmed life in the DC metropolitan area. She enjoys short walks, long naps, and not-really-roughing-it camping. Her favorite color is ‘shiny’. You can follow her on Twitter @Think_P_Smart and read more at http://www.ThinkPrettySmart.com/.

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