60 university online event ideas for college students: everything you need to make every day awesome.
June 30, 2022
The days of sitting in a boring classroom are over, thanks to the rise of remote learning. Universities and colleges need to innovate to keep students engaged. These 60 university virtual events ideas will give you plenty of inspiration. Also, read this insightful How Stanford, University of Pennsylvania & Caltech Students Run Virtual Events article recently published by Arena.
Keep reading to discover ideas and examples from creative students and universities across the country. Whether you’re looking for a way to learn life skills like cooking, network with alumni or spend an afternoon creating music with friends, you’ll find something for you in this guide to online event ideas for college students.
Download the free ebook: Online event ideas for colleges & universities that work
Once you see an event idea you like, explore Arena’s solutions for education for the following steps on how to bring your event to life with technology.
As a student, it can be tough to keep up with an ever-changing schedule. Attending virtual classes - especially recorded lectures - makes staying on top of your studies easier.
You can still learn from other institutions if your college doesn’t offer virtual classes. MIT offers free lectures and other learning resources. Check out MIT’s introductory programming courses - all available in digital education format.
Discovering new ideas through a TED talk is one of the most accessible ways to learn new perspectives. You don’t have to wait for an invitation to get invited to speak at TED, either. Many colleges and universities have organized TEDx events.
To inspire you, check out these examples and resources to create your own TEDx event:
This phrase is commonly used by young students today when they want to share information or connect with others interested in a specific topic.
You don’t have to drink tea either - some people prefer coffee, cocoa, or anything else. The activity is as simple as picking one hot or pressing topic and allowing everyone to discuss their opinions.
The University of Arizona, for example, has run Spill the Tea events for its LGBTQ+ community. The University of Arizona offers its events in a hybrid format. You can run your events in a virtual or hybrid format.
This activity is somewhat similar to “Spill the Tea” but on a different setup. Instead of hot drinks, students can talk about interesting topics while having lunch and learn from each other.
Listening to podcasts is a popular activity - over 50% of American consumers listen to podcasts, according to Statista.
The Ohio State University has a podcast club for students. It’s an organization that brings together students interested in developing the speaking and technical skills required to run podcasts.
The people you meet in college and university can open doors to exciting career opportunities! Organize mixers for students and alumni to get together. Alumni benefit from the energy and new ideas students bring to the table. Students benefit from learning what it takes to succeed in the real world.
Want to see what this kind of event looks like in practice? In 2021, Stony Brook University organized a two-hour virtual students and alumni networking mixer. Keeping the event short and focused is one way to make the event more accessible.
In college, it’s wise to learn both how to learn and teach. That’s why webinar skills matter. When you learn how to deliver a practical learning experience to your peers, you will be much more effective in the workplace.
In this event, students give a presentation on topics that interest them. Focus the event on learning popular webinar platforms like Zoom, WebinarJam, and GoToWebinar. After their presentation, invite the other attendees to provide constructive feedback on their presentation content and communication skills.
An entire college-length course isn’t the best way to learn every skill. Sometimes a short tutorial is the best way to go.
As a starting point, look at the topics that the University of South Florida (USF) teaches in its life skills for student success tutorials. USF helps students with responsible alcohol consumption, sexual assault prevention, and financial literacy.
Whether you call it “adulting” or just getting ready for real life, this instruction is well suited for blending learning. For example, you might have a housing or health virtual event to gather questions and then follow up with an in-person event to demonstrate specific skills.
Few college students have good eating habits. When you’re young and active, it’s easy to get away with poor food habits…. What if you had a way to make healthy food preparation fun for students? It’s possible!
Tap into the desire many students have to share their accomplishments on Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms. Invite students to join a cooking class and take photos of their creations.
Take a look at the University of Minnesota, which offers students a cooking for wellness course. Some university courses are open to the public, while others are limited. This distance learning experience blends practical cooking skills and conversation.
Few students are experienced and confident in managing money, spending, debt, and investments. Fortunately, virtual learning is well suited to the challenges of teaching financial literacy.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) offers multiple financial literacy workshops. The University has introductory budgeting courses, obtaining graduate school funding, and homeownership. Offering one or two distance learning courses or workshops on financial literacy could make a significant difference in students' lives!
Participating in university as a disabled person is challenging, especially if you feel alone. Organizing virtual learning experiences is a powerful way to help disabled students to thrive. For example, you can introduce students to the resources and support programs available.
In addition, these groups can provide a valuable social experience for students who want to meet others who share their experiences.
The University of Colorado at Boulder offers a variety of workshops and training focused on disability services. For example, the university has a workshop helping students to navigate the transition from high school to college and law school.
The concept of this group is more of a Q&A discussion among the students where they can discuss their views on ethics, how to live, and other philosophical issues.
To deepen the discussion further, consider inviting a graduate student or professor with expertise in philosophy to facilitate the discussion. Another approach would be to focus on different schools of thought (e.g., Stoicism one week and existentialism another week).
Participating in a psychology experiment is an exciting way to contribute to research and learn more about yourself. Professors sometimes have a budget to pay students for participation in these experiments.
The University of Toronto at Mississauga has a database of psychology experiments. Look at this page for inspiration on how the university manages research ethics.
Many college students take language courses for their degrees. However, these courses sometimes lack the opportunity to practice speaking and listening skills. Supplementing your formal class with a conversation group is a powerful way to enhance your learning experience.
The Spanish Language Club at John Hopkins University shows one way to offer this type of learning experience. The club meets twice a week for two hours of virtual class time.
Want to make the world a better place as a university student? Consider signing up for a volunteer group. There are various options here, like project-based volunteer activities and volunteer groups that run throughout the year.
Think about your goals to make the most of your volunteer efforts. To become a teacher, look for a tutoring volunteer group. The UCLA Volunteer Center offers multiple virtual volunteer opportunities with nonprofit organizations like Schools on Wheels and Progress Point Tutoring.
There are special celebrations for various causes, groups, and identities every month. Organizing a virtual celebration in honor of events like Earth Hour, Pride Month, and World Youth Day is a great way to unite students.
Museums have an essential role to play in the modern learning experience. Instead of reading about dinosaurs or the Romans, a museum gives you the chance to see artifacts! Over the past few years, many museums have developed virtual tour experiences. Find a few classmates and organize a virtual visit to one of these museums:
Writing in a journal is one of the best ways to manage stress and reflect on your daily life. Consider organizing a virtual journaling session with a few students and playing instrumental music to set the mood.
Most college students are so busy that they spend little time in nature. This virtual event idea is a way to reconnect with the natural world.
This concept is about teaching your students the hobby of gardening in their homes. Thus, the word jungalow. In virtual meetings, you can show off your plants and share techniques for growing plants effectively (even in a dorm room).
Some students take their interest in gardening further by setting up an organization. The Student Horticulture Association at Michigan State University was established in 1901 and meets weekly.
Meditation is an ancient practice that helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and focus. While it is very beneficial, getting started in meditation can be difficult for some people.
Help students discover the benefits of meditation by inviting a meditation teacher to provide virtual guided meditations to students. The experience of learning how to meditate and calm yourself is a beautiful learning experience for students. It can help them navigate the stressful aspects of university life like exams, tests, and job interviews.
Encourage your students to get fit even at home. Collate exercises that are easy to do in front of their screen but will make them sweat. Through this program, you are helping your students maintain their physical fitness and mental sharpness.
Not sure how to plan a virtual fitness experience for students? Take a look at the University of Kentucky virtual group fitness program. The program offers 30-45 minute fitness sessions so students can easily fit exercise into their schedules.
Navigating the transition from high school to university is one of the biggest challenges young people face. Help your students thrive at university by offering new student orientation events, including a virtual learning experience. For example, you might offer a virtual study skills program with tips on time management, using the library and other campus resources.
Did you know that 70% of American households have a pet, according to the Insurance Information Institute? Organizing events where students can meet others who love cats, dogs, and other animals is a great idea.
Give your students a break from homework and study with a virtual animal event. Destress the cuteness of every household pet and let them step in the spotlight for a change.
After studying for a degree, many university students are eager to start their careers. Universities can play an essential role in facilitating the transition to the working world by offering virtual career fairs.
Consider organizing multiple sessions to give everybody a chance to learn about career opportunities. For example, you might have a dedicated session related to careers in banking, government, and other industries.
Getting together with fellow students to share music is a great way to bond. Students have different tastes in music, but a generation mostly knows similar ones. Get them in tune with music by contributing to a playlist they all love.
Showcase your students’ talent by organizing a virtual dance showdown when they take your dance classes. Everyone is invited, even the ones who dance on two left feet.
Stream movies and discuss them with your new friends. There’s one rule to this virtual event idea: no spoilers are allowed!
Now, where is my beret? Let your students unleash their inner artists by holding painting classes and other fine arts classes. To keep them engaged, you can post a photo of a scenic view or a macro shot of food they will paint. Disclaimer: This can get messy!
Do some of your students want to become social media stars? Running a vlog virtual event is one way to introduce them. Students, staff, and faculty members can join.
Shakespeare’s theatres were closed by plague in the past: the theatre is no stranger to disruptions. Showcase your students’ creativity by holding an online drama performance or an open mic comedic monologue. When it comes to creativity and imagination, the sky’s the limit!
All of your students probably take their virtual classes in their rooms. Let them showcase their study space by holding friendly competitions like this, where they will take their creativity to the next level.
It is going to be a holiday every day somewhere in the world. Engage your students by asking them to research the most absurd holiday in the world that they can find and discuss them.
Do your students have a hobby they can share, such as crocheting, knitting, or needlepoint? You might not know how to do these hobbies now, but you can learn! So much of the college learning experience is focused on abstract skills, so it’s a nice change of pace to make something with our hands.
Many successful YouTube stars showcase their homes to subscribers. Students may have something unique in their home to share with the group, such as a walk-in cabinet, favorite posters, or a balcony garden.
Sudoku is an excellent game for stimulating the mind and making it more analytical. Students will benefit from this challenge while incorporating this into their lessons. Offer first, second, and third place rewards to those who solve the puzzle fastest.
Don’t like numbers? Crosswords might be a better fit for you! For an added challenge, meet together to work on the famous New York Times crossword puzzle.
Want to show off your pets and photography skills? Let your students dress or pose with their pets and post their photos on social media to capture the engagement of the netizens.
Take some time off from intense lectures and play charades with your students to break the ice. Plus, there are apps online where you can generate words to make your charades more exciting.
There is so much trivia around us where students can learn. Get creative by assigning themes like history, politics, and pop culture (imagine a trivia competition focused on the Marvel universe!). The winner can choose the next round’s questions and bragging rights for the next week.
E-Sports gained momentum when the pandemic arrived. Now, there are a lot of recognized E-Sports that are played internationally. Challenge your students to an E-Games Tournament and reward the Champion.
Challenges - marked by the #challenge hashtag - are one of the most common types of content in the TikTok app. Encourage your students to post their most creative TikTok content, and you will be surprised at how they manipulate the app because it is the younger generation’s forte.
A scavenger hunt game may not always be physical, but it can also translate to the digital space. Take your students on a hunt over clues to answer your cryptic puzzles. For example, ask them to hunt for university history or famous alumni facts by searching the web and the university website.
A good joke is funny, but a lame one is funnier! Let your students tell their corniest jokes and see who gets all the laughter. Telling jokes in front of a live audience, even a virtual one, is a great way to become more confident.
Enjoy the music but don’t like to sing? A lip-sync music battle might be just the event for you. No inborn talent is required, just good coordination between lips and lyrics.
We discussed the most absurd holiday competition. Building on that theme, invite your students to invent a holiday. Let the whole campus vote on it.
For inspiration, check out one of the most famous made-up holidays: International Talk Like A Pirate Day.
You might study history or engineering by day, but you probably have other interests. Who would have known that an Engineering student is interested in Humanities unless these programs are hosted?
Give your students a boost in enriching their careers through virtual career counseling sessions. This interactive learning experience usually involves guidance counselors, alumni professionals, and other experts.
Your students’ resume is their ticket to opening doors to employment. Guide your students on the best ways to present their skills and accomplishments by encouraging peers to meet and review each other's resumes and cover letters. This type of collaboration is most effective when participants take a workshop covering the fundamentals of creating a resume or cover letter.
For students who want a career in writing, it is essential to hone their skills and teach them techniques as early as now. Creative writing is both an art and a science, so they need to know the fundamental ways how to write a masterpiece.
One option is inviting students to participate in National Novel Writing Month, held every November. The rules for the event are simple: write a 50,000-word novel in one month. Take inspiration from Arizona State University, which hosted a weekly two-hour virtual writing session to help students keep making progress.
This group is the student version of guidance counselors. Developing the skill to resolve conflicts respectfully is a valuable life skill. Invite students to take a virtual learning experience covering the fundamentals of conflict resolution first.
This group is intended to be a resource for students who need assistance with the field of study they are currently taking. For example, new students can learn the best ways to research term papers or complete lab work assignments.
Recognizing your top outstanding students in an awards event is a time-honored way to encourage excellence. By hosting this kind of event, you can recognize student leaders from various recognized organizations, award-winning papers, high grades, and other achievements. It will motivate your students to strive harder and inspire them to become active community members.
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In the course of their university career, students are going to face problems and new questions. One way to support students better is by offering them spiritual support. This can take different forms, like hosting a “spiritual Q&A” session with the campus clergy or other types of events.
Be mindful that students will have various attitudes about religion - some will be interested, and some will be uninterested.
Most of the virtual events covered here are aimed at current students. What about potential students - like senior high students considering their university options? It’s essential to think about their needs as well.
Compton College organized a virtual university fair in 2021 with more than fifty participating universities. The Compton event was aimed at potential transfer students, but you can adapt this concept to other groups of potential students.
There is a decades-long tradition of university students participating in Model United Nations events. For example, Dartmouth Model UN offers students a variety of diplomatic-oriented learning experiences, including a crisis committee. This event is a great way to offer a blended learning experience to political science and international relations students.
Live concerts are coming back! However, there’s still the option to offer a virtual concert performance. Why not organize a hybrid-style concert so that your friends and family living far from campus can your students perform?
Explore filters from social media apps with this online photo booth, and you will discover so much to discover there.
Challenge your students’ mental capacity by solving complex questions as a group. Since there is a lot less physical requirement for this game, your students will get their brains to the test. The group that wins most rounds gets the prize.
Tickle your students’ imagination by making a hypothetical situation of a crime and make them collaborate to solve this mystery crime team-building activity.
The State University of New York at Albany hosted a virtual mock trial event in 2021 with many colleges and university participants. You don’t need 21 teams to get started, though. Invite a few friends interested in the law and start planning a legal case!
You might also want to check out some Virtual Event Strategies For Universities To Keep Students Engaged and how to Enhance the E-learning Experience with Live Chat to enhance virtual classroom experiences.
Adding Arena Live Chat and Live Blog to your virtual university events is a great way to make your event more inclusive. You’ll open your event open to more people - including students who have to commute long distances. With polls, private messages, and content moderation, it is easy to create a safe space for students to express themselves.
And, in case you haven't yet, you should check out how Pecege Institute leverages Arena Live Chat to allow students to engage in real-time with their teachers and classmates.