College events shape the social and intellectual fabric of your university. Events are a great way to introduce fresh ideas, opportunities, and products to a new audience. But to draw interest, you’ll need to look beyond formal talks and job fairs.

College students want new and authentic ways to connect, avoiding the commercialism and marketing that a lifetime of media has trained them to recognize. Social events that incorporate games and technology are good starts.

For more ways to make your on-campus event stand out and improve student engagement, check out these fun event ideas for college students.

Pro tip: Use Eventbrite Boost to be sure your event marketing strategy gets an A+.

Educational event ideas for college students

Students spend all day in lecture halls and seminars, so educational events encouraging participation will be more impactful.

1. College-friendly cooking classes

Want to know how to get college students to attend events? Bring food! Cooking classes help keep students healthy and prepare them to become more self-sufficient. But make sure your cooking classes have an enticing theme and plan easy, cheap, and college-student-friendly dishes. Think mac ‘n’ cheese, stir fry, homemade ramen, or pho. You might also include wraps, burritos, and gyros — quick, flavorful meals that require only a few ingredients.

2. 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. So, invite them to be that change. Team up with an off-campus organization to promote and orchestrate a meaningful community event. For instance, clean up a local beach or river, or raise awareness of a topic with a special event where all proceeds go to a cause. If you want to take your event online, consider creative activities like a student-led online workshop or a virtual open mic night.

3. Create a student mentorship program

Take inspiration from Big Brother/Big Sister programs and pair seniors with freshmen. 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 create an LGBTQ+ mentorship program or event. These programs create a rewarding, one-on-one experience for students.

4. Learn from alumni

Attending a university often instills loyalty that can inspire successful alums to share what they know with the younger generation. A meet-and-greet allows students to make a one-on-one connection. Set it on campus, where the alums might enjoy seeing old sites, or make it a workplace visit or tour for a hands-on experience. Focus on specific departments or specialties to keep your event focused. Ask your university’s alum relations department for contact information.

Professional events for students

As graduation nears, students will be more focused on their professional futures. Many companies turn to college students as prospective employees, so they may even want to sponsor events focused on career matters.

5. Career fairs

A classic career fair brings employers onto campus to talk to students about their mission, hiring practices, and prospects. Consider doing a series of industry-focused career fairs for targeted interactions.

6. Industry networking events

Any working professional will likely tell you that success depends more on who you know than what you know. Host an industry networking event that’s an open invitation to anyone who works — or wants to work — in a particular industry. Serve appetizers and drinks so guests stick around.

7. Speed interviews

As the name implies, speed interviews are similar to speed dating. Set up stations for employers seeking college student applicants. You can host this event in the student center, gym, or college quad. Students looking for their first job, a summer internship, or a part-time gig can bring their resumes and do a series of quick interviews. Serve appetizers and drinks for a more relaxed atmosphere.

8. Meet your (professional) mentor

When you’re starting out, there’s nothing like a mentor to open doors and guide the way. Invite successful alums to serve as a mentor to students majoring in a relevant area. Set up a night of drinks and hors d’œuvres to be sure your mentors are comfortable with their mentees (and vice versa). Coordinate periodic check-in events to maintain contact.

9. Skills seminar

When interviewing for your first job, it’s not always all about your academic experiences or what extracurricular activities you excelled in. Invite HR directors from local employers to provide insight on ways students can meet other professional expectations, like dressing for the office, writing effective emails, and public speaking. And while many college students are computer experts, they may lack business skills like creating formulas in Excel or using tables in Word. So bring in an IT pro to show off the tips and tricks to help new employees prove their worth.

Cultural event ideas for college students

University life is ideal for exposing students to a variety of art and culture, with campuses often serving as a hub for musicians, writers, and other artists. As a result, students are often excited to see new works and learn about different traditions.

10. Poetry slams

A poetry slam puts spoken word performance front and center. It often includes a competition. Set your poetry slam in a coffeehouse and enjoy cappuccinos and cookies, or gather in a park or campus amphitheater for fun in the sun.

11. Book debates

What do you get with you combine English majors with the debate club? You get a book debate — a fresh spin on the ever-popular book club concept. Set up podiums for your teams of debaters, preferably where an audience can view them and present a question for debate. Focus the question on significant works and authors, or discuss children’s books or cookbooks for a more lighthearted event.

12. Theater prop workshops

Not everyone wants to be in the spotlight, so a prop workshop is a great way to involve more introverted types in the theater. Invite a prop master from your school’s theater department to show students how to craft theatrical props for an upcoming production. A supplies fee can help pay for necessary tools and other resources.

13. Gallery crawls

For a refined take on the rowdy bar crawl, get your group to try a stimulating gallery crawl to check out the latest art, sculpture, and photography exhibits. This event suits urban campuses, where many museums and galleries might dot the landscape.

14. City and museum tours

Like the gallery crawl model, city or museum tours can include visits to natural history museums, botanical gardens, and architectural sites. A docent or other expert could lead these for a more educational experience. Or invite graduate students from your university’s art, history, or architectural department to lead the tour for a stronger connection with your student participants.

15. A night at the symphony

Encourage attendees to dress up and enjoy an evening with the local orchestra, or show their school spirit by attending a performance of the school’s music department ensembles. Let them experience the joy of classical music and admire the musicianship behind exquisite compositions. Symphony orchestras will appreciate youthful attendees who may become loyal subscribers. They often offer special amenities or prices for groups or younger audiences.

Fun campus event ideas

While college audiences can be eager to attend educational and cultural events, they sometimes want to get their minds off education. But that doesn’t mean your event can’t be inspiring or rewarding in other ways, right?

16. 24- or 48-hour film festival

With the user-friendly digital tools at our disposal today, anyone can make a short movie. Ask students to create something extraordinary and plan a fun event that focuses on film. Come up with a list of themes and some basic ground rules on length and subject matter. Give teams 24 or 48 hours to complete a movie based on a theme or genre. Pick a day to showcase entries in a theater setting, complete with snacks and awards, and sell tickets via Eventbrite’s film event ticketing software.

17. Solo night hike

For one of the most exciting college events students will ever experience, take groups out on an established trail (with reliable guides) late at night. Send a guide further along and let students follow one at a time to navigate a short, flat distance alone. This great bonding activity can be even more fun by ending the hike with a bonfire and s’mores.

18. Craft workshops

Host a workshop where students can make their own dorm room decor — think plant hangers, terrariums, or recycled frames for their art. Or, for older students, try a paint-and-sip party where guests bring their favorite libations for an evening of watercolors, easels, and drinks. Get inspiration from Pinterest, Instagram, or Etsy for the latest crafting trends.

19. Comedy nights

Laughter is a great stress reliever, so comedy’s an ever-popular event choice for students loaded down with exams, jobs, and extracurricular activities. Comedians regularly include colleges on their tour stops, so it could be worth reaching out to a famous name to check availability. Alternatively, host an open mic night and encourage students to try out their best routines. Make sure your comedy show sells out by promoting it on social media.

20. Campus campout

There’s nothing like spending a night under the stars. Still, we can’t always make it to the nearest wilderness for our backpacking excursions. Instead, invite students to bring their tents, sleeping bags, and s’mores kits to campus for a campout with friends. A campfire is probably ill-advised, so try a portable electric cooker instead.

College social event ideas

Sure, academics should take precedence, but everyone loves to hang out and socialize with their peers. So, fun events for college students that emphasize social life will attract interest. Choose a theme or activity and watch your registrations fill up.

21. Ice cream socials

Give students a treat after a long day of studying. Head out as a group to a local parlor for sundaes, banana splits, or a simple scoop of rocky road. Or, get a couple of ice cream makers and make your own customized concoction.

22. Charity casino night

Harness students’ enthusiasm to benefit a good cause. Host a fundraiser with a casino theme — including card games, roulette wheels, and slot machines — but make sure to comply with local gambling regulations. Make it a black-tie event for a sophisticated Monte Carlo feel.

23. Alternative sports events

While softball games and volleyball matches are always popular, mix things up with alternative sports competitions such as ultimate frisbee or paintball. Or put the pedal to the metal with a go-kart race at a nearby indoor or outdoor track. Alternative sports like these can attract less-athletic types who might be up for trying something new and sports lovers who thrive on competition.

College campus event ideas

University campuses are often expansive spaces filled with various environments: dormitories and dining halls, quads and stadiums, recreation facilities, and lecture halls. This makes them an ideal choice for hosting various events, especially outdoor ones that can accommodate kiosks, booths, and large gatherings. Below are a few engaging social event ideas for clubs and students.

24. Campus farmers market

Reach out to local farms and vendors to organize a campus farmers market. Not only does this allow students to support local businesses, but it also helps them stock up for the week. In addition, the array of fresh produce encourages healthy eating habits and community engagement.

25. Campus fun run

A fun run is similar to a 5K or marathon — it emphasizes enjoyment instead of a serious race or competition. Lay out a route across campus or around the perimeter, and make sure you’ve got water and treats like ice cream or fruit cups for finishers. Have participants dress in themed costumes for extra fun, or make it a fundraiser with pledges for laps completed.

26. Clothing swaps

College students often set fashion trends for the rest of us — and with fads changing frequently, a clothing swap makes for a fun and interactive event. Participants bring clothes to trade with each other as they try out new looks. Coordinate your event with your school’s LGBTQ+ community to create an inclusive, gender-neutral event.

27. Pet therapy sessions

The emotional and therapeutic benefits of bonding with animals are well-known. Even something as simple as petting a dog or cat is associated with lowered blood pressure and increased relaxation. Since pets are often forbidden in dorms or apartments, invite a local pet adoption organization to bring dogs, cats, and other critters to campus. Speak to your university’s facilities department about using a field or similar outdoor area. Be sure to provide plastic bags and waste bins for cleanup.

28. Scavenger hunts

Scavenger hunts involve creating a list of goals for a group to accomplish or items to collect. The first group to complete the list wins. The goals can be anything: taking a photo at a campus landmark, for example, or finding a specific “treasure” in a particular location. Think Amazing Race, but without the multi-million-dollar broadcast network budget.

29. Blood drive

Doing something beneficial to society can make you feel inspired and energized. And with blood and platelets in critically short supply, blood drives can be a true lifesaver. Coordinate with the Red Cross, a local hospital, or your university hospital to provide the necessary phlebotomists and equipment. See if the campus’ bakery can offer cookies and juice for donors.

30. Drum circle

A drum circle is simply a group of people coming together to drum. It can be free-form, where everyone drums to their own beat, or the circle might be led by a conductor who offers direction and encourages everyone to participate. Devotees attest to the therapeutic effects of drum circles, which are said to instill feelings of warmth and community. Ask participants to bring their own drums — hand drums such as bongos or even handmade and recycled drums — or see if your school’s music department has some spares.

Indoor games for college students

While outdoor games and events are great for getting students out of their rooms and off their screens, we know the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Games designed for indoor events are the perfect solution. Indoor games don’t have to require athleticism. They usually focus on imagination and mental abilities, which should be just the thing for a campus full of budding scholars.

31. Murder mystery

Calling Sherlock Holmes! In a murder mystery game, one party guest is the designated “murderer,” and anyone could be the next victim. Can you figure out who the murderer is before it’s too late? These games are great because they’re entirely adaptable to the size of your party.

32. Role-playing

Role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons have entertained fantasy fans since the 1970s. Thanks to Netflix’s massively popular “Stranger Things,” interest has exploded. They involve a lot of creativity on the part of the participants and can be adapted perfectly to your event. Create imaginary monsters and adventurers, or pit Greek heroes like Perseus and Odysseus against creatures like Cyclops or Medusa. Swords and sorcery not your thing? You’ll find role-playing games set in the world of international spies, a post-nuclear holocaust, and a city full of superheroes, too!

33. Wargaming

Initially developed by actual military strategists, wargaming contests involve moving game pieces around large game boards that consist of maps of real or fantastical landscapes. A wargaming contest will likely resonate with the history majors in your midst; you might recreate battles from the Civil War, World War I, or World War II. Or, create your own maneuvers and offensives in battles between fantastical creatures such as orcs and dwarves. Just be sure to clear your calendar — wargaming classics like Squad Leader and Warhammer can take place over days or weeks. Fun fact: Robert Louis Stevenson, author of “Treasure Island” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” is generally credited with inventing miniature wargaming.

34. Poker tournament

Put on your best poker face and deal ’em up! Lay down some green felt across your tabletops and use chips instead of coins for a more authentic experience. A poker tournament doesn’t have to involve gambling — instead, let the winnings benefit a particular charity or cause. Then it’s just a matter of deciding between seven-card stud or Texas hold ’em. Alternatively, impress the history department with out-of-fashion historical games like three-card brag — or organize a round of the classic French brelan with your school’s French department.

35. Ancient games tournament

Table games like chess, pachisi (the Indian precedent to the American variation called “Parcheesi”), and backgammon have been around for hundreds, even thousands of years. Put down the electronics and get back to basics with an ancient games tournament. Include only games that date before the 18th century.

College festival event ideas

A festival combines a main activity or theme with events that might occur over a weekend or the course of days. You can host a cultural celebration supporting music, art, food, and other entertainment. It’s possible to hold them over a wide, though not necessarily connected, area. For example, a film festival might encompass several different movie theaters or screening rooms. A music festival might center the main stage in a field. If serving food, ensure your event complies with local regulations about storage and handling.

36. Fall festival

A fall festival celebrates all things autumn while fall colors are at their peak. Include pumpkin carving contests, hay rides, corn mazes, and costume contests. Then serve treats like apple pie, cider, and, of course, pumpkin spice anything.

37. Bollywood festival

Step aside, Hollywood — more movies by far are produced in India than in the backlots and sound stages of southern California. Celebrate India’s films, with their exuberant colors, fantastic tales, and imaginative staging, with a Bollywood film festival that also embraces the richness of Indian culture. Coordinate with your school’s film department to include the best of Bollywood cinema. If your school has a Hindi or Urdu language department, see if they have additional resources to incorporate. And don’t forget to match the theme with authentic cuisine.

38. Harvest festival

Similar to a fall festival, harvest festivals emphasize food and farm products. They’ve been celebrated in agricultural regions for perhaps thousands of years. Contact your local farmers market about providing locally grown fruits, vegetables, cheeses, honey, and meats. Include a petting zoo with goats, sheep, and other barnyard animals.

39. Chinese New Year festival

The Chinese new year begins on the first moon between January 21st and February 20th, and it’s one of the premier holidays in Chinese culture. A Chinese New Year festival is a perfect way to celebrate the traditions and culture of China. The color red dominates decorations, which often include traditional crafts like intricate paper cutouts and couplets written in Chinese characters wishing good fortune in the coming year. The pop of firecrackers and gifts of cash stuffed in red envelopes are other hallmarks of the festivities, which traditionally last for two weeks. Chinese New Year typically culminates in a lantern festival, with candles and lanterns lighting up homes and gardens — or in this case, campus spaces.

40. Music and arts festival

Channel Coachella and create your own music and arts festival on campus. Performing artists love to gain college fans, and college rock (think R.E.M. and the Pixies) got its name for a reason. Invite popular indie rock bands and hip-hop artists, and coordinate with the university art department about showcasing student works. Lastly, a festival isn’t complete without eats. So, contact local restaurants and food trucks about offering easy finger foods. Just be sure students stick around afterward to help clean up!

41. Short film festival

Shooting and editing short films has never been easier. And never have there been so many budding student filmmakers constantly uploading shorts and skits to YouTube and TikTok. Invite your campus’ next Steven Spielberg or Jordan Peele to show their stuff on the big screen. Promote your event in your school’s media or film department and set up a screening room on campus. Pro tip: quality sound equipment can really enhance the experience.

42. Renaissance fair

A renaissance fair harkens back to the days of knights, nobles, lords, and ladies, recreating a time gone by. It might include lute players, herald trumpeters, jousters, jugglers, magicians, jesters, and dancers. Be sure to encourage attendees to come in costume. Contact your school’s archery club about including a Robin Hood-inspired display of bow-and-arrow skills. Local food vendors might provide messy medieval foods such as roasted turkey legs and Viking-worthy mead. Include displays of falconry or blacksmithing to set the mood.

College competition ideas

There’s nothing like a competition to attract attention. Some students love to compete, testing themselves constantly against their peers. And, people love to watch competitors go head-to-head, whether they’re “survivors” on a TV-friendly island or athletes on a playing field. Of course, your competition can be as friendly and straightforward as you like — the simpler it is, the more likely people will feel up to the challenge and decide to participate.

43. Video game tournaments

Time to find out who’s the Console Champion with a video game tournament. With more college kids playing video games on PCs or consoles like PlayStation or Xbox than ever before, a video game tournament can be a gamer’s fantasy. You’ll need to decide whether to include all consoles in your match or limit it to one brand. Likewise, consider the genre(s) to be featured. Will it be sports games, strategy games, first-person shooter games, simulations, or a combination? The size of your event may determine your answers.

44. Battle of the bands

For the musically inclined and music fans, a battle of the bands is often a hit. Let student musicians show off their best guitar licks and drum solos in an auditorium, amphitheater classroom, or outdoor space where guests can sit and watch. You’ll want to contact your school’s facilities department about availability. Give your event a musical theme, such as hard rock hair bands or harmonizing boy bands, or open it up to all genres of music.

45. Rap battle

The great thing about a rap battle is how little equipment is needed — bring a beatbox and a microphone and you’re practically set! Rap throw-downs can be held virtually anywhere, from a formal theater stage to an informal dormitory dining hall.

46. Trivia night

What’s the longest-running show in Broadway history? Which two countries share the longest border? Trivia night’s a classic test of useless (and sometimes useful!) knowledge, and an ever-popular way for students to spend the evening. Create categories such as geography, science, or pop culture, declare a winner for each, and don’t forget to crown an overall trivia champion. Provide gift cards to the campus bookstore for the winners.

47. Hot-plate cook-off

Everyone’s heard of a chili cook-off or a British bake-off, right? We all know college students may not have the kitchen or the time for such culinary achievements. But you’d be amazed at what you can whip up on a hot plate. Put students’ taste buds to the test with a hot-plate cook-off — campus regulations permitting. Set it up in the student center or dormitory dining hall and let those student chefs show their skills. Mac-and-brie-en-croute, anyone?

48. Obstacle race

Spartan races are famous for their obstacles combining mud crawling, wall climbing, rope swinging, spear throwing, and more. Create an on-campus obstacle course and invite students to test themselves physically like never before. Be sure to include medals for first, second, and third place finishers, and have plenty of water and nutritious refreshments for contestants.

Online events for college students

More and more universities are offering online classes to attract students from distant geographic regions. And at some universities, students can obtain degrees entirely through an online course load. Offering virtual events can give those who can’t make it to campus the chance to participate in campus life. As more students become online-only enrollees, online events might take on new importance.

49. 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 begin 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. You can create online events for off-campus students by streaming TEDx to everyone at home or abroad.

50. Online language clubs

Language clubs are a perfect fit for an online event. Include an online component as part of an in-person club meeting, or make it solely online and open it up to a broader number of participants. This allows you to create clubs for less commonly spoken languages, such as Czech or Basque. You might even connect with students worldwide who speak your club’s language natively.

51. Virtual theater performances

As theater lovers know, the real magic of drama and comedy is in characterization and dialogue. Both can easily be enjoyed onscreen thanks to the magic of the internet. Many theater companies are now incorporating virtual performances into their regular programming. Performances might include a virtual component as part of an in-person show or be adapted specifically for a digital format.

52. Professional meet-and-greet

When starting out in a career, you want to get to know as many people as possible who share your interests, passions, and responsibilities. An online meet-and-greet can be a great solution if you’re looking for virtual business event ideas for college students. While inherently less personal than an in-person event, an online event has other advantages, including expanding your networking base to more geographic regions. Online events can also be more comfortable for introverts among us, who may prefer making connections while maintaining a certain distance.

53. Virtual campus walking tour

Long-distance students attending virtual classes will have little experience with your school’s campus. A walking tour of your campus landmarks, lecture halls, and popular student hangouts can help give them a sense of the college experience. Grab a camera, mic and recorder, and your favorite walking shoes!

Get planning

Need more fun college event ideas? Check out additional creative ideas to inspire your next event. When you’re ready to promote your events, use Eventbrite Boost, the all-in-one marketing platform designed for event creators. Whether connecting people face-to-face or virtually, hosting poetry readings, mariachi lessons, or concerts, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Eventbrite Boost makes it easy to reach new people, engage your fans and followers, and grow your attendance — directly from your Eventbrite account.