University campuses are nothing if not eventful – there are tons of student events to choose from every day. Students are actively looking to get more out of their uni events and have new experiences (which is great for event creators who want to steer away from events that just revolve around the local uni bar). This could be anything from mentoring and city tours to life skills such as easy lunch ideas for university students or legal advice. COVID-19 has brought more opportunity to get creative with student events in a virtual and hybrid world, too.
Shelley Valentine, Director of Student Services with “Arc @ UNSW” for over a decade and now Chief Executive Officer, says that the demographic of the UNSW student population has been changing dramatically and that while there are still first-year students looking to “party, party, party”, numbers have been dwindling for general university events that try to cater to everyone. As the UNSW student body diversifies, so must the type of events Arc puts on offer.
In short, there’s no point marketing to a “stereotypical” student – they just don’t exist. Online learning has increased dramatically due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions and events have become valuable opportunities to socialise and connect. To draw a diverse crowd and create a thriving campus community, you’ll need more than just free refreshments.
Here are 10 fresh, innovative ideas for how to have fun in university with student events and four ways to amplify attendance.
University event ideas students will attend and share
Lectures, study groups, and job fairs are all par for the campus programming course. Make your university event stand out with these modern and inclusive student events ideas:
1. “How to adult” sessions
Whether you’re 18 or 38, if there’s one thing we all love griping about on social media it’s that “adulting is hard” – almost as much as we love to #humblebrag about things we’re doing for ourselves. The hashtag #adulting has over 2.9 million tags on Instagram. Capitalise on this by running sessions that teach uni students new skills like cooking classes or surviving on a budget.
2. 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. Starting a live stream of your campus TEDx can reach a global audience for your lecture.
3. Club mashups
Got multiple student groups with niche interests? Invite two or more to create “mashup” university club events to introduce their passions to each other and host fun hybrid events. Remember, seating arrangements need to comply with specific requirements for COVID-19 safe events which are subject to change to reflect current state-by-state circumstances. For the latest COVID-19 updates and advice, check the restrictions and regulations that apply in your state or territory.
4. Local city tours
With social distancing restrictions from COVID-19 easing, new international students and locals moving away from their hometown to attend uni will need to get acquainted with their new surroundings. Running city tours for attractions and venues close to campus or creating a virtual tour will help students get to know their new home and meet others who are keen to explore. To ensure anyone can attend regardless of location and to record the event for replay later, you can also live stream your student event online using Eventbrite’s integration with Zoom.
5. Meet the grads
The return to in-person classes after social isolation is an appropriate time to bring back program grads with stories to tell of the “real world”. Don’t just focus on those who’ve landed excellent jobs, but people doing unusual things with their credentials like founders of startups, artists, activists, and social-change pioneers. Hint: find grads active on social media who can help promote your event as brand influencers.
6. Fundraising or community service events
Millennials love expressing their values online, but most Australians believe it’s essential for people to come together in-person to promote positive change. Invite them to be that change. Team up with an organisation outside of campus to promote and orchestrate a meaningful community event. The university sports team, for example, might love to get behind organising teams for a charity fun run.
7. Stress-relief activities
Students get stressed, particularly come exam-time. Organise a social get-together that doubles as a makeshift spa day. Bring in chair-massage therapists, aromatherapy experts, and yoga teachers. You can probably find a lot of these “pros” from within your own student base and the university sports sector.
8. Fancy dinner mixer
Dinner mixers allow for more conversation than conventional student parties. You could even get fancy with a theme like “bubbles and bow ties”, giving students an excuse to dress up and dine on something a bit fancier than packet Mie Goreng. There could be take-home recipe cards for easy lunch ideas for university students to keep the inspiration going post-mixer.
9. Coffee bar
A low-key version of the dinner mixer, aimed at students who become partial to barista-made coffee to fuel their studies. Look at engaging some local coffee roasteries to set up a brew bar with espresso alternatives like filter and cold brew and milk alternatives like soy and oat. This isn’t just about free coffee, though – it’s also an opportunity for students to get together and discuss ideas or tell stories, European-salon style.
10. Smartphone film festival
Anyone can make a short movie with the user-friendly digital tools at our disposal today. Don’t simply invite your film students to contribute without any direction, however. Come up with a theme and some basic ground rules on length and subject matter. Pick a day to showcase entries in a theatre setting and promise widespread social media shares and vouchers for the winners.
How to get uni students to share campus events
The first step to successful campus programming is to create “Instagrammable” event ideas for students. The next is to actually get those student events on Instagram – and Facebook, and Snapchat, and Twitter, and…you get the picture.
Here are a few tactics you may not have thought of for your uni events program.
Whether your university event involves multiple organisations on campus or not, you can tap into the greater community to help you share. Look to organisations that have popular social media feeds, like Melbourne City Wrestling and Stone and Wood. Find commonalities that will intrigue the university clubs or faculties you’re approaching, ensuring that inclusivity and diversity are common practice across all parties. For instance, your film festival might not be art-school centric, but given their focus on creativity, they’ll probably help you promote it.
Pop-up photo booths
Set up smart photos booths around campus (or at a bigger student event) to encourage students to create social-worthy images. Think beyond the old standard – there’s a host of companies now that offer animated photo booths with fun GIFs to share online with friends. This is ideal for building FOMO for recurring events.
When your student event shows up on social media and discovery sites like Facebook, Spotify, and Eventful, buying tickets should involve zero barriers to entry. Give students the ability to sign-up directly on the site where they first discover your event.
Automated social advertising
These days, for your social media marketing to be effective, it must go beyond organic. Advertising boosts your online reach. Even with a modest online ad budget, you can target the right audiences to drive attendance.
Bringing your students together with a plan
Solid uni events ideas and smart social marketing are just part of the puzzle of student events. Our state and territory guide to COVID-19directs you to appropriate government resources for your area. On the back of that, our COVID-19 Safety Playbook will help you navigate the return of in-person events. Whether your student event is on campus or online, investing in the right event technology establishes a robust platform you can launch all your campus programming from. Learn how you can create seating plans for your student events and set ticket prices to fill those seats by using Eventbrite’s event management software.