Whether your school is a residential or commuter campus, events play a crucial role in college life. Not only do events help students get to know one another, but they can provide a steady stream of wholesome and educational programming that will keep students active and engaged in their campus community.
Start hanging posters, planting signs, and flying banners! Coax students out of the library and their dorm rooms with the promise of snacks, games, and good company. They may only come for the free food, but they’ll stay for the friends and jovial atmosphere. From RA-sponsored freshmen meet-and-greets to events organized by student groups, here are twelve versatile on-campus event ideas that college kids will love:
Meet-and-Greet Events and Community-Building Ideas
First-year orientation week is one of the most exciting and nerve-wrecking parts of the college experience. Help new students break the ice, get to know their peers, and get settled into campus with these events and activities:
1. Dorm Room Cooking Lessons
College students are infamous for their ability to survive the school year on a diet consisting of little more than ramen noodles and Red Bull. But with just a microwave and a bit of ingenuity, students can have a much more well-rounded diet without breaking the bank. During orientation week, offer cooking classes that show students how to make healthy(ish) meals with minimal equipment and inexpensive ingredients.
Tip: Consider giving attendees a recipe book and dorm-cooking starter kit as a party-favor!
2. Baby Photo Match Up
Ice-breaker games can be a bit trite. But who could possibly have a problem with baby photos? Ask students to submit a picture of themselves as a baby. One-by-one, show the photos to the crowd on a projector screen and ask students to try to identify the person pictured. In between a chorus of squeals about each cute photo, students will have the opportunity to really look at their peers.
Tip: To make things more interesting, consider having everyone vote on “Awww-wards,” such as “Cutest Baby,” “Biggest Trouble Maker,” and “Best Glow-Up.”
3. Crafting Dorm Decor
Help new students pimp their dorm room with some easy, DIY decor. Provide the supplies, background music, instructions, and refreshments, and let crafty students get to work on building something that will make their dorm feel like a home.
Tip: Craft possibilities include painting pots for easy-to-care-for plants like succulents or ferns; decorating picture frames or book ends; tie-dying wall hangings.
On-Campus Entertainment Ideas
Not every weekend at college needs to be all about tailgating and keggers. Regular entertainment programming on college campuses can give students who aren’t party animals new opportunities to relax and socialize.
4. Sleepover Movie Marathon
Convert an event hall into a the ultimate movie night slumber party, decked out with pillow forts, sleeping bags, an ice cream sundae station, and plenty of popcorn. Whether you project the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, every Harry Potter movie, or a season of Game of Thrones, just make sure there is enough footage to run all night.
Tip: Section off a part of the hall where students can talk amongst themselves and only half-watch the movie. By supplying some traditional childhood slumber-party supplies, like boardgames and nail polish, students can keep themselves occupied even if they aren’t interested in watching.
5. Music Legend Memorial Concerts
The past few years have seen the passing of some of popular music’s most beloved idols. Whenever a music legend passes, give students a chance to mourn the artist they love and show off their own musical talent by hosting an open-mic night and memorial concert in their name. Students can perform and listen to live renditions of songs we all know and love as a touching way to say goodbye.
Tip: Be sure to invite any student organizations that perform music on your campus, from any acapella groups to the official marching band.
6. The Ultimate LAN Party
Gratify the gamers on your campus by hosting an old-school LAN party and tournament. Depending on whether or not your college has the right hardware available, you can either supply the computers, network cards, and headsets yourself, or specify that the game night is BYO-gear. Either way, be sure to make sure there are plenty of power strips to go around – and don’t skimp on the snacks and soda either!
Tip: With this many devices in one room, it may be advisable to ensure that the computers are equipped with virus protection and that every outlet has surge protectors!
Educational Programming & Workshop Ideas for Colleges
Learning doesn’t only take place inside the classroom. These event ideas for college campuses are as educational as they are fun:
7. Student Entrepreneurship Spotlight
Some of the world’s most successful businesses were founded out of college dorm rooms. Showcase the entrepreneurial spirit of your campus by inviting student business owners to speak about their projects and network with potential collaborators. From developing software to selling handmade crafts, there are bound to be some enterprising students on your campus.
When entrepreneurs from your campus aren’t showcasing their projects, another part of the spotlight can function similarly to a college recruiting event or career fair. Invite special guests like business-savvy alumni and scouts from venture capitalist firms to bring banners, booths, and hiring and funding literature. As students move from booth to booth, they’ll get a peek into potential career paths and maybe even find the position where they’ll launch their career.
Tip: As part of the event, host an incubation workshop to give students who are interested in entrepreneurship a glimpse into the world of start-up funding.
8. Regional Native Plants Tour
One of the neatest ways to get to know your surroundings is by learning about the flora native to the area. Ask a professor from the Biology department with knowledge of plant species and biodiversity to lead a tour of local parks and nature trails. Students will not only learn to identify some of the trees, flowers, and bushes that makes the area unique, but they will also get a chance to explore some of the best walking and hiking trails that the area has to offer.
Tip: Depending on the accessibility to nature where your campus is located, you may even be able to offer native plants tours as reoccurring programming! Each weekend, the group can hike in a different natural area with different wildlife to learn about.
9. Sex Positivity Series
Sex plays a big role in campus culture, but that doesn’t mean that talking about it is easy. Raise awareness about positive relationship behaviors, safe sex, and healthy intimacy with taboo-busting programming tailored to college-aged students. The series might include a trivia night, in which student teams answer questions about sexuality and health statistics, free STD and HIV testing, expert-led panel discussions about sexual health and empowerment, and a raffle to win toys or other goodies.
Another great way to get people excited about sharing at the event is to interview individual students about the hilariously false misconceptions they had about sex when they were younger. Set up a recording booth with a campus-branded media backdrop, film students as they recount their funny stories, and publish the Buzzfeed-style video online as a way to keep the event and the on-campus resources it highlights circulating on social media.
Tip: An event like this is a great chance to tap into the expert knowledge on your campus! Invite professors from diverse departments, like Biology, Religion, and Women’s Studies, to speak about sexuality through different academic lenses.
Fundraising Ideas for College Campuses
College students may not be a population known for having a ton of disposable income, but what they lack in income they make up for social concern and engagement. Here are three easy-to-execute fundraising ideas to help campus groups collect donations and award a giant check to a good cause:
10. Origami Folding Lessons
Student organizations can set up a booth at a high-traffic area on campus and, for a donation of just a dollar, teach their fellow students how to fold cranes or other beautiful origami creatures. It takes less than five minutes to walk through all the steps, and students will get to walk away with a paper creation that they folded themselves and the knowledge that they contributed to a worthwhile cause.
Tip: By the end of the fundraiser, there will certainly be lots of extra paper cranes lying around! String all the origami together — the colorful garland can then be displayed somewhere on campus, or donated to the organization for which the funds were raised!
11. Campus-Wide Clothing Swap
Encourage students to shop their peers’ closets — and for a good cause! With a campus-wide clothing swap, students can clear their dorm rooms of gently used and unworn clothing and maybe even find their new favorite t-shirt. Funds can be raised either by ticket sales for entry, by pricing the clothing individually, or by some combination of the two.
Tip: The funds raised through the clothing swap can be donated alongside any clothing that remains after the event is through!
12. Donation Fitness Classes
Surely there are a few certified yoga or aerobics instructors in your student body! Raise money for a good cause and encourage health and fitness with a series of donation-based exercise classes. Hit up a student fitness-buff to lead an all-levels workout class in an open space on campus. All you have to supply is the instructor, the PA system, the space, maybe a few retractable outdoor banner stands to mark the spot and make it official, and the collection jars.
Tip: Remind attendees to bring their own exercise mats or beach towels, but be sure to make a few extra mats from your campus fitness facilities available to borrow. This will encourage even absolute beginners to show up and participate!
The open-minded social atmosphere of college campuses offers an incredibly unique environment for event planning. More than just about any other demographic, college students are always on the look out for new opportunities to socialize, learn something new, and eat some free food while they’re at it. With a great event idea, some creative promotion posters, strategic way-finding signs, and eye-catching event decor, students will quickly take notice and show up in droves.
Your campus is bound to have plenty of resources and good will to make your next event a smashing success — all you need then is the right event idea to get started!