On-campus events play an important role in shaping the social and intellectual fabric of your university’s campus. But if you want to draw a crowd, you’ll need to look beyond the standard fare. Lectures, study groups, and job fairs all have their place, but college students, especially freshman, are looking for new and authentic ways to connect.

Make your on-campus event stand out with these Instagram-worthy event ideas.

TEDx talks

Did you know that the iconic idea-sharing forum TEDx started as a campus event at USC in 2009? Now, the platform encourages campuses to start their own version of the digitally evolved lecture series. Capturing such talks on video makes for powerful, potentially viral social media. For details on how to start a campus TEDx, visit the website.

College campus farmer’s market

Reach out to local farms and vendors to organize a campus farmer’s market. Not only does this allow students to support local businesses, it gets them stocked up for the week with easy transport and encourages healthy eating habits and community engagement. 

24/48-hour film festival

Anyone can make a short movie with the user-friendly digital tools at our disposal today, and college students love their newfound freedom to stay up all hours of the night. Give them the opportunity to create something awesome with that time. Come up with a list of themes and some basic ground rules on length and subject matter. Themes get handed out based on a lottery, and teams have 24 or 48 hours to complete their film. Pick a day to showcase entries in a theater setting, complete with snacks and awards. 

Community service events

Millennials love expressing their values online, but 80% of them feel it’s essential for people to come together in person to promote positive change. Invite them to be that change. Team up with an organization outside of campus to promote and orchestrate a meaningful community event. For instance, clean up a local beach, organize a themed open mike, or raise awareness with a special class where all proceeds go to a cause. 

Craft workshops

Host a workshop where students can make their own dorm room décor — think plant hangers, terrariums, or recycled frames for their art. Get inspiration from Pinterest, Instagram, or Etsy for the latest crafting trends. 

College-friendly cooking classes

Cooking classes keep students healthy and prepare them to start being more self-sufficient. But make sure your cooking classes have an enticing theme and plan  dishes that are easy, cheap, and college-student friendly: mac n’ cheese, stir fry, homemade ramen, or pho.

Create a student mentorship program

Look to Big Brother/Big Sister programs for inspiration to pair up senior students with freshman. You can also be more specific with the pairings, like pairing first-gen college students with older first-gen students who understand their experience, or creating an LGBTQI+ mentorship program or event. 

Battle of the bands

You can count on any college campus to have a plethora of musically inclined students. Offer local bands the chance to perform in a bigger on-campus venue and compete for best-in-show. Even if it’s not a “battle,” you can still theme the event based on music genre or make it into a mini-fest with food stands and dance floors. 

“Solo” night hike

Sends groups out on an established trail (with reliable guides) late at night. Send a guide further along and send students one at a time to navigate a short, flat distance of the hike alone. This is a great bonding activity that can be made even more fun by ending the hike with a bonfire and s’mores!

Need more event ideas? Check out 77 Event Ideas and Formats to Inspire Your Next Great Event.

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