26 event ideas for college students on campus

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Paperless Post > Business > 26 event ideas for college students on campus

College is an important and transformative time in a young adult’s life, and campus activities—from clubs and organizations to events and extracurricular programs—play a pivotal role in shaping well-rounded individuals. 

It’s important for colleges and universities to provide a wide range of activities that foster student engagement, whether they’re intellectual and cultural events or just-for-fun contests and community service initiatives. Campus activities should cater to a diverse range of students from all backgrounds and promote personal growth, self-confidence, leadership skills, and social responsibility. 

To help you start planning, we’ve rounded up 26 college event ideas for getting students involved and promoting their academic, emotional, and social well-being. You should customize these ideas to suit your unique needs and campus culture—we’ve included a few budget and planning considerations like timing, venues, accommodations, supplies, activity providers, and more.


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Open Concept” by Paperless Post; Image via Adobe Stock.


Professional and academic event ideas for college students

Campus events that help widen students’ perspectives, connect them with professional resources, and promote academic success can make a big difference in their college experience—and improve their chances of success after graduation.

1. Host a TEDx event

TED talks are ever-popular—and TED, whose tagline is “Ideas Worth Spreading,” makes it easy for individuals and organizations to host their own version of TED talks, known as TEDx. Hosting a TEDx event is easy—and TED offers a complete guide to help you pull it off with great success.

Planning tips:

  • Ideal venue: an auditorium or lecture hall
  • Providers: students, faculty, staff, or professionals who have something important to say
  • Equipment and supplies: A/V equipment for the speakers

2. Hold a professional headshot event

Professional headshots are invaluable tools—students can use them for their LinkedIn profiles and other social media, send them off to acting or modeling agents, or include them in author bios for content they publish online. Hire a professional photographer—or tap into your school’s art or film department for volunteers—and host a day of free headshot photography for students. 

Planning tips: 

  • Timing ideas: end of the year, before seniors graduate—or the beginning of the years so students can update their pictures on social media and other promotional sites
  • Ideal venue: campus ballroom, cafeteria, or photography studio
  • Accommodations: mirrors where students can check their hair and makeup
  • Providers: paid professional photographers or community or student volunteers
  • Equipment and supplies: cameras, lights, backdrops, props, and privacy screens 
  • Special considerations: Consider spaces with great natural lighting when choosing your location. Will this be a first-come, first-served event, or will students sign up?

3. Organize a job skills seminar

For students who want to brush up on their job skills, including searching for jobs, applying and interviewing for them, and navigating hiring paperwork, a job skills seminar is just the thing. A job skills seminar can be a one-day event or a weekly workshop. Bring in speakers to talk about job-related topics, provide one-on-one coaching, or set up stations where students can pick up information and resources about different aspects of finding and thriving in a job.

Planning tips:

  • Timing ideas: mid-year to end of the year, when graduates will be on the hunt for a job and undergrads may be looking for summer work 
  • Ideal venue: lecture hall, auditorium, or multi-purpose room
  • Providers: college staff, HR professionals, legal advisors, tax specialists, and other relevant professionals
  • Equipment and supplies: A/V for lecture-style events

4. Arrange a recurring networking meetup

Networking meetups help students make personal and professional connections. A weekly or monthly networking event can be a simple, casual affair where students meet to mingle, or it can be a formal event involving a speaker and breakout sessions. You can host a meetup for students in a particular major, or you can bring students in different majors together, such as business majors and marketing majors, or educational majors and psychology majors.

Planning tips:

  • Timing ideas: make it a weekly or monthly event
  • Ideal venue: a campus lounge area, cafe, or multipurpose space
  • Accommodations: provide drinks and snacks
  • Providers: a staff facilitator, industry professionals, alumni
  • Equipment and supplies: A/V for speakers 

5. Hold a speed-advice event with alumni or professionals

A fun take on speed dating, a speed-advice event works the same way: students are paired at a private table with an alumnus (or other professional) for a short, timed conversation. When time’s up, students rotate to the next table and talk to a different professional. Choose a theme for the conversations, such as searching for a job, being a good leader, or making a difference in the world.

Planning tips:

  • Ideal venue: large multipurpose space
  • Accommodations: light refreshments
  • Providers: school alumni or other professionals
  • Equipment and supplies: a table and chair for each alumnus, plus additional seating at each table for one or more students; name tags
  • Special considerations: arrange the room for optimal flow to prevent confusion and bottlenecks


Left: “I Voted” stickers on a white surface. Right: A red, white, and blue card reads “Make your voice heard! Register to vote” with an illustration of an open mouth.
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Social event ideas for college students

These fun events are great for getting students out of their dorm rooms or apartments and engaging with their peers and campus community.

6. Challenge students to a scavenger hunt

A good, old-fashioned scavenger hunt is just the thing to get enthusiastic participation from your students—especially if you hold it at the beginning of the year, when new arrivals may be looking to make friends and are learning their way around campus. A student scavenger hunt can be confined to a residential hall, the library, or the entire campus, or it can take them off-campus to get them familiar with the restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues nearby. 

Planning tips:

  • Timing ideas: the beginning of the school year
  • Equipment and supplies: a physical or digital list of items for students to find
  • Special considerations: Have students take pictures of the items on the hunt list, or place QR codes at each location for them to scan.

7. Host a local walking or bus tour

Every college town has unique spots and lore—and every town has its local experts on the matter. Get students engaged in the community with a walking, biking, or bus tour of local historical landmarks, haunted buildings, architectural wonders, famous parks, or public art. Or, take them around campus, and regale them with the stories and lore that define it. Tap into the expertise of your institution’s historians or a local buff, or book a professional tour through a local provider.

Planning tips:

  • Timing ideas: a campus tour at the beginning of the year, or a ghost or historical cemetery tour in October 
  • Providers: a professional tour guide, a local history buff, or a professor of architecture 
  • Special considerations: transportation, if it’s a driving tour

8. Hold an outdoor movie night

An outdoor movie is a fun event for students, and you can even make it a weekly or monthly event during warm seasons. Make it a fundraiser, and sell popcorn or other snacks to help fund other activities. Come up with themes for the movie nights, or show classic films that everyone loves, like “E.T.” or “The Wizard of Oz.” 

Planning tips:

  • Timing ideas: Women’s History or Black History month, Indigenous People’s Day, or as part of a campus film festival 
  • Ideal venue: an outdoor space with a grassy area and low ambient lighting
  • Accommodations: Have students bring their own blankets to sit on.
  • Equipment and supplies: film or video projection equipment, a popcorn machine 
  • Special considerations: Work with your library liaison to secure the necessary permissions.

9. Run a voter registration drive

Promote civic engagement among your student body with a nonpartisan voter registration drive. In an election year, book a couple of rock bands, and make it a “rock the vote” event. Festoon the space in red, white, and blue, and invite student political and activist organizations to set up information booths. Provide information about your state’s ID requirements, polling place locations, absentee ballot or early voting options, and election dates.

Planning tips:

  • Timing ideas: the beginning of the school year or several weeks before an election
  • Ideal venue: a large indoor or outdoor space that gets a lot of foot traffic
  • Accommodations: bring in food trucks, or offer free pizza or other snacks
  • Providers: Invite speakers, such as an election official or a representative from an organization like League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union, Rock the Vote, or HeadCount.
  • Equipment and supplies: A/V for speakers, a PA for bands, blank registration forms from your local elections office, clipboards, and a collection box or envelope.
  • Special considerations: Check your state and local laws that govern voter registration in your community, and if applicable, remind students to bring a driver’s license or social security card.

10. Plan a School Spirit Week

Promote school spirit with a Spirit Week featuring a variety of activities each day, such as an outdoor movie night, an ice cream social, a campus club volunteer drive, performances by the theater or music department, dance or trivia competitions, campus tours, networking events, contests, and featured speakers. 

Planning tips:

  • Timing ideas: the beginning of the year, or during Homecoming
  • Special considerations: Involve student organizations in the planning, promotion, and execution of the event.


Left: An invitation with red theater curtains as a border and black in the middle with the words “Film Festival” in gold glitter letters. Right: A darkened auditorium with red lights.
Curtain Call” by Paperless Post; Image via Martin Widenka.


Festivals and cultural event ideas for college students

College is an important time for students to learn about other cultures and develop a wider view of the world. These activities help foster greater awareness of the differences and similarities that bring people together among their peers. 

11. Put on a film festival 

Whether it’s an outdoor or indoor event, a film festival is a great way to bring students together and engage them in a variety of cultural explorations through movies—make it a weeklong, weekend, or one-day event. Choose a theme, like horror movies during Halloween and holiday movies in November or December, or hold the event in partnership with a campus organization or department or in conjunction with a heritage history month. 

Planning tips:

  • Timing ideas: coincide with a holiday, national awareness campaign, or heritage history month
  • Ideal venue: a lecture hall, campus theater, or other screening facilities
  • Accommodations: provide or sell concessions
  • Equipment and supplies: film or video projection equipment
  • Special considerations: Work with your library liaison to secure the necessary permissions.

12. Hold a food festival on campus

Invite students to feast on local delicacies with a food festival. Invite food trucks to participate, or have local restaurants host a booth. Make it a purely recreational event, or hold it in tandem with another event, like an outdoor concert or Spirit Week—or turn it into a fundraising event for a local nonprofit.

Planning tips:

  • Ideal venue: A parking lot, on-campus street, or other large space
  • Accommodations: Set up tables and chairs or have students bring blankets or lawn chairs.
  • Providers: Local food truck operators
  • Equipment and supplies: access to a power source

13. Partner with campus clubs for cultural events

Reach out to student cultural organizations to put on celebrations, festivals, or other events throughout the year, such as a Diwali or Chinese New Year celebration. You could also organize a multicultural festival, and invite all of the student organizations to participate with booths showcasing food, crafts, and information. 

Planning tips:

  • Ideal venue: indoor or outdoor multi-purpose space
  • Providers: student cultural organizations

14. Host a poetry slam, talent show, or amateur comedy night

For pure entertainment that appeals to a large audience, put on a production featuring students showing off their talents. Have students sign up to perform during an amateur comedy night, campus-wide talent show, or a poetry slam. Partner with the theater, English, or music department to recruit performers, or advertise in the student newspaper or on fliers posted around campus.

Planning tips:

  • Ideal venue: multipurpose space, lecture hall, auditorium, or theater
  • Providers: students who want to showcase their talents
  • Equipment and supplies: A/V equipment


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Events to reduce stress and improve mental health

College can be a stressful time for many students, especially during the first weeks of school or during finals week. These mental health event ideas for college students can help students reduce stress on the spot and provide them with the skills and resources they need to manage overwhelming times throughout the year.

15. Outdoor yoga or meditation sessions

Invite the whole student body to bring a blanket or yoga mat to a spacious outdoor spot and participate in a group yoga or meditation session. Whether it’s a one-off event or a recurring affair that takes place once a day or on Saturday mornings, providing students with a foundation for mindfulness practices can help them reduce stress and improve their mental health. 

Planning tips:

  • Timing: during finals or as part of a campus wellness campaign
  • Ideal venue: large outdoor green space
  • Accommodations: Have students bring a towel, blanket, or yoga mat.
  • Providers: local or on-campus certified yoga or mindfulness instructors, whether paid or volunteer

16. Pet-a-puppy or cuddle-a-kitten booth 

Research shows that interacting with animals can help reduce stress and promote feelings of wellbeing. Partner with a local animal rescue or training organization to bring in pets for students to cuddle or play with—they can use the opportunity to promote their organization or hold a volunteer or adoption drive. Set up the event where you’ll get plenty of foot traffic between classes, or if it’s cold outside, bring the event indoors. 

Planning tips:

  • Timing: during midterms or finals week or as part of a campus wellness campaign
  • Ideal venue: an outdoor space 
  • Providers: a local animal shelter, animal therapy organization, or puppy trainer 

17. Throw a weekly life skills seminar (with snacks!) 

Host recurring seminars for students who want to learn or brush up on life skills, like managing their finances or their stress, doing their taxes, changing their oil, maintaining their bicycle, or cooking healthy food on a budget. Hold short, single-subject seminars on a weekly or monthly basis, or host a quarterly, day-long seminar and let students choose the sessions that will help them the most. Bring in community experts, or recruit staff or faculty to facilitate each session. 

Planning tips:

  • Providers: college staff, graduate students, community professionals, or local experts 
  • Special considerations: Have volunteers on hand to help with hands-on activities.

18. Craft a hobby night

Hobbies are great for relieving stress and connecting with others who have similar interests. Host a Bob Ross-style paint night, bring in an origami master, invite students to learn how to knit or crochet, or host a pottery painting night—have the ceramics department provide fire-ready coffee mugs or plates and set them in the kiln afterward. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the types of crafting activities you can host.

Planning tips:

  • Ideal venue: multipurpose space with work tables and ample lighting
  • Providers: staff, faculty, campus organizations, or student volunteers
  • Equipment and supplies: Provide art supplies, or ask for donations from local partners.

19. Bring in a farmer’s market

A campus farmer’s market brings produce to students who may not otherwise have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Reach out to local farmer’s markets, community garden organizations, or other providers to set up booths. Partner with the student health center or nutrition department to provide students with information and recipes for healthy eating.

Planning tips:

  • Timing: weekend mornings during the harvest season
  • Ideal venue: a large outdoor space 
  • Providers: local farmers, farmer’s market organizations, or other community partners
  • Equipment and supplies: Booths or trucks may require a power source.

20. Offer free mini-massages

There’s nothing like a shoulder and neck massage to reduce stress on the spot. Invite students to sign up or stop by for a quick, five or 10-minute massage provided by a licensed masseuse—or order in a few massage chairs where students can sit and take a quick break between classes. 

Planning tips:

  • Timing ideas: finals week, wellness week, or right before the holidays
  • Ideal venue: a multi-purpose space with high foot traffic, a dorm lounge, or the student wellness center
  • Providers: a licensed massage therapist, paid or volunteer


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Geometry Tools” by Paperless Post; Image via Polina Tankilevitch.


Charity events to give back to the community

Help students make a positive impact on their community with a variety of charity events. Invite students to volunteer, participate in civic activities, or join organizations that align with their interests and values.

21. Blood drive

Blood donations are always needed, and giving blood is a great way to give back. Partner with your community or campus Red Cross to host a blood drive. Have students sign up to give, or welcome walk-ins. Offer stickers or free t-shirts to students who donate. 

Planning tips:

  • Ideal venue: a multipurpose room with plenty of foot traffic and the appropriate facilities required by the provider
  • Accommodations: Have campus health professionals on hand in case of an emergency.
  • Providers: a local blood donation organization
  • Equipment and supplies: Offer snacks for donors. 

22. Hold a fashion show or art show to raise money for charity

Partner with the art or fashion design department or student organization to put on an art exhibition or fashion show to raise money for a local charity through ticket sales. Invite students only, or welcome the whole community and offer a discounted ticket price for students. Include a silent auction or raffle, and serve refreshments or set up a concession stand.

Planning tips:

  • Ideal venue: campus ballroom, art gallery, or other large multipurpose space
  • Providers: student artists and/or fashion designers
  • Equipment & supplies: paper or digital event tickets, a catwalk and portable chairs for a fashion show, portable gallery walls or easels for an art show

23. Shovel snow for the elderly

Invite students to help out in the community by shoveling snow for elderly residents. Partner with a local aging organization to identify those in need, and work with campus maintenance to provide snow shovels. Provide transportation via shuttle, or serve elderly residents within walking distance of campus. 

Planning tips:

  • Timing: during the winter months
  • Equipment and supplies: snow shovels, de-icing materials 
  • Special considerations: transportation, outreach to student volunteers when they’re needed

24. Tutor high school students

Partner with academic departments to recruit student volunteers to tutor high school students in English, math, science, and other subjects. Reach out to local school districts for participants, and hold the tutoring sessions on campus or at a high school or other locations off-campus. You can also set tutors up at a campus computer lab and hold sessions virtually. Alternatively, you can pair up struggling students at your college with tutors in the same major. 

Planning tips:

  • Ideal venue: a large multipurpose space with tables and chairs
  • Providers: students across a variety of majors
  • Special considerations: Have a screening process in place for tutors, or ask faculty to recommend students who might want to participate. Offer a training session for tutors before the program begins.


Left: Four young people clink beer glasses around a barrel table. Right: A square invitation for a trivia night with rounded abstract shapes in quadrants in gold, black, and cream.
Image via Cottonbro Studio; “Blocks” by Paperless Post.


Tournaments and competitions to get students buzzing

25. Host a trivia competition

Many students love to show off their knowledge of pop culture, and a trivia competition is the perfect event to draw students from all departments and walks of life. Make it a weekly contest held at the student union, cafeteria, or large dorm lounge—choose a different theme each week, or include general trivia. A week or month-long Jeopardy!-style competition could culminate in a widely publicized, epic showdown. Consider live-streaming the event to develop a fan base for the contestants, and ask local or campus celebrities to emcee in order to drum up interest and create a buzz.

Planning tips:

  • Ideal venue: a campus cafe, cafeteria, lecture hall, or multipurpose room
  • Providers: staff or faculty, student organization members, or campus celebrities
  • Equipment and supplies: A/V equipment for the emcee, buzzers or other signaling devices, a scoreboard, a referee, and something to snack on during the event
  • Special considerations: Choose a wide range of questions that are culturally diverse and run the gamut from easy to advanced.

26. Sports or lawn game tournament

Get students outside and moving around with a fun tournament featuring games like lawn bowling, croquet, or cornhole. During cold or inclement weather, take the fun inside, and host a ping pong, bowling, or dance tournament.

Planning tips:

  • Ideal venue: a large green space or indoor multipurpose area
  • Accommodations: Offer plenty of snacks and bottled water to keep everyone hydrated.
  • Providers: Have staff or student facilitators on hand to keep things organized and running smoothly.
  • Equipment and supplies: games and prizes or trophies


An online invite in several shades of green reads “You’re invited” and “P&P Fellows Reception” with a geometric pattern of lines.
Shifting Squares” Flyer by Paperless Post.


Promote your campus events with Paperless Post

Whatever types of activities you decide to hold on campus, whether they’re large events for all students or smaller ones for dorm residents or certain majors, Paperless Post has a wide selection of university event invitations and fun Flyers that make getting the word out easy. Personalize your invitations to suit your event, and add customizable Blocks to provide additional details, like how to sign up, what to bring, and relevant links for more information. 

Send invitations to the whole student body via text, email, or shareable link. And RSVP tracking makes it easy to see how many are coming to the event so you can provide enough supplies—and snacks!—for everyone who attends.


Browse College Event Invitations


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