Since college students are a generally tech-comfortable crowd and already familiar with virtual connections, they’re a natural audience for online events. Eventbrite’s robust virtual platform makes it easy to integrate with the leading streaming platforms – so courting this demographic has never been easier. Read on to find out how.

Table of contents

Know how to keep your crowd engaged – virtually

Fun virtual event ideas for college students

Keys to keeping college students safe online

Create online events for college students in minutes

Know how to keep your crowd engaged – virtually

One challenge that’s ever-present with virtual events is distractions. Your attendees are often home or somewhere with access to television, social media, or other attractions – so it’s key to keep their focus on your screen.

  1. Secure your tech. You’ll find that the quickest way to lose your audience’s focus is if technical problems strike. If you lose visuals or audio, or if attendees get disconnected or can’t access the stream, problems can quickly spiral. Test and re-test your tech to ensure all connections are clear and in working order. By facilitating integrations with leading streaming platforms like Zoom and Vimeo, Eventbrite makes it easy to be sure your streaming is state-of-the-art.
  2. Use a tech specialist. You may not be up on the latest innovations in wire capacity or the best video coding formats, so get someone who is. That way, when problems arise, you won’t have to waste precious time trying to resolve an issue — and lose the attention of your online audience – when a specialist could recognise and fix it in minutes.
  3. Make sure no distracting activities are going on in the background. Also, ensure there are no TVs or other moving activities. Try out some of your platform’s special features, too. Zoom lets you swap out your live background for a pattern or photo to maintain your home’s privacy and keep the focus where it belongs.
  4. Break it up with breakouts. Use breakout rooms that divide attendees into subgroups to facilitate greater intimacy and engagement. This helps foster conversation and liven up the event’s rhythm. Give each group its own theme and then recongregate and share your results.
  5. Encourage interaction. Interactive elements can help keep the crowd focused on your message. Include online polls and Q&As to encourage everyone to participate.

Fun virtual event ideas for college students

Coming up with virtual event ideas for students may present a challenge. College kids have grown up on digital media and quickly recognise inauthentic messaging. At the same time, they’re also often open to new experiences and will try new platforms and exchange new ideas. They’re generally willing to experiment, especially if it seems fun, different, or intellectually challenging.

1. Host inspirational TEDx talks

TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design. TED talks quickly gained a reputation as groundbreaking and interesting presentations from some of the world’s most innovative thinkers. The organisation that puts TED talks together lets event organisers brand similar events as TEDx talks, so long as the event and presenter meet certain requirements. It can be an excellent way for your event to use an already well-known and respected brand to attract interest.

2. Offer craft and cooking classes

Make them relevant to your audience: gear the cooking class to use only a few ingredients, and don’t make the recipe complicated. Find new twists on college-kid favourites like burgers, tacos, and burritos. For crafts, keep the focus on college needs. Show cool apartment decorating ideas or creative ways to dress up old clothes for a thrift-store look.

3. Put on a film festival

Younger audiences grew up streaming movies, not going to the movie theatre – so an online film festival is a great way to appeal to them. And while horror films and Marvel movies are perennially popular with that age group, try putting a fresh spin on the festival to make it unique. Perhaps your schedule will focus on superhero movies from the 1930s and ’40s, with titles like “The Phantom” and “The Shadow.” Or, stream foreign horror films, like Japan’s “Onibaba” or Denmark’s “The Vampyr.” Make it a 24-hour marathon for an added challenge.

4. Offer mentoring and guidance

Colleges know this and frequently have specific administrative personnel to facilitate mentorship. Reach out to local colleges and coordinate an event to bring potential mentors and students together virtually. Focus on different specialities for each event to give it structure, for example:

  • Host a career event to match students with mentors from their desired future profession
  • Build an event around matching students in specific majors with graduates from their department
  • Consider a women’s empowerment event focused on connecting female students with female alumni

5. Put brainpower on display

Tap into kids’ brainy – or nerdy – side by setting up an event that lets them show off their knowledge of extracurricular subjects. Send out prizes for the winners and watch the competition heat up.

6. Give a lunch and learn

Students are in college to learn, right? Set up a series of lunch events where students can enjoy a more intimate experience with leaders in various fields. Invite professors, outside experts, local businesses, and political leaders, and give the kids a glimpse of how the real world works and what it takes to excel. Make it a group Uber Eats event and share pictures of what you ordered.

7. Make it a whodunit

Add a theatrical element to the event with murder mystery games. Teaming up with others to deduce the identity of the “killer” is a great way to build bonds among students – and making accusations of “murder” are a great way to test those bonds! Ask participants to dress in costumes to match the mystery’s characters and make it even more of a production.

8. Stretch it out

College students often prioritise exercise and physical fitness, and gyms are a fixture in student centers and dorm buildings. So, appeal to their active side and host an online yoga or body-weight workout session. Include a high-energy physical trainer or yoga instructor to lead the class and prove virtual events can be as much about physical activity as they are about interacting with a screen.

9. Start a podcast

Podcasts are wildly popular with the college-age demographic. Cover various topics relevant to student life, including academic subjects, sports, and career planning. Set yourself up for success by leveraging the trendiness and practicality of this audio format.

10. Give financial literacy practical online sessions

Financial literacy is a huge skill for college students that’s often under-addressed. Fill this gap with online education seminars on the topic.

11. Have a virtual philosophy debate

Take a campus philosophy club virtual. Set up intercollegiate debates online – without the expense, logistical headache, and venue hunt that an in-person debate event would necessitate.

12. Pose a language learning challenge

An online language learning challenge is a great way to get college students to step up their performance when filling foreign language distribution requirements in their course load. It might inspire some of them to declare a new major!

13. Encourage virtual meditation & mindfulness

It’s no secret that college students lead stressful lives – after all, for most of them, college is their first experience of adulthood. Encourage students to keep their lives in perspective and manage stress during tough exam weeks by hosting virtual meditation and mindfulness events. Their collective mental health will be sure to benefit.

14. Have a freshers welcoming party online

Who says the excitement of being a first-time college freshman has to be confined to in-person events? Providing options to attend an online welcome party helps new students get to know each other in a less chaotic environment. Include virtual breakout rooms so students can hang out in smaller groups – just as they would at an in-person party.

15. Put on a standup comedy virtual show

Comedy is a great icebreaker, especially among newer college students, and performance-based events like standup translate very well to a virtual setting. A virtual standup comedy show will give students something to laugh at, chat about, and bond over with one another.

16. Host an online career guidance discussion

College is often the first time many students start getting serious about pursuing a professional track. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, and resources like an online career guidance discussion go a long way toward helping students feel a little less at sea.

17. Offer online dance classes

Burn off stress and fill a PE course load requirement in one go! Hosting online dance classes will get students out of their seats, on their feet, and breaking a sweat. Not only is this a great way to get students to take a break from homework – it’s also great for mental and physical health.

18. Create virtual gardening groups

Gardening is a lifelong hobby that can be enjoyed at all ages and in all settings – including a campus dormitory, where some students may enjoy cultivating their own potted plants or indoor gardens. Get the green thumbs of campus together via virtual gardening and horticulture groups.

19. Volunteer virtually

Encourage college students to give back to their local community with virtual volunteering clubs. Facilitate a net positive for both campuses and surrounding communities by fostering an online environment where like-minded students can plan fundraisers, soup kitchen outings, and more.

20. Meet the alumni online

Alumni meet-and-greets present an unmatched opportunity for current students to network and bond with those who have previously walked in their shoes. However, it’s often difficult to facilitate physical get-togethers, especially for alumni working in far-flung locales in busy professions. Make things easier for everyone involved by having meet-and-greets online.

Keys to keeping college students safe online

Like an in-person event, an online event should prioritise safety and security. Simply because your attendees are in their dorm rooms or apartments doesn’t mean they can’t be exposed to inappropriate behaviour while attending your online event. Chat rooms, breakout sessions, and messaging apps all provide access to your guests that others might exploit. As the event host, it’s your responsibility to take precautions to ensure your event is secure. Here’s how to do it:

1. Require registrations. Limit access to the event to only those who register and provide their names and contact information. When potential offenders know that they can be identified, their behaviour improves.

2. What’s the secret password? Keep the link to your event password-protected, and only provide it to registrants. Attendees’ expectations for appropriate behaviour are lowered when events are open to anyone, without registering or needing a password. In contrast, requiring a password signals a higher expectation for those attending.

3. Test your platform. There’s no substitution for testing your virtual platform before the event. Set up a dress rehearsal, have your staff access the event, and try out the chat rooms and other features to ensure there are no obvious security risks.

Create online events for college students in minutes

College students are a diverse group with lots of interests that open up plenty of possibilities for you. After you’ve made sure your tech is current and in working condition, reaching this audience is simply a matter of brainstorming some ideas and deciding what fits. Once you know you can handle the security and ensure your attendees will be safe, all you have to do is create your event on Eventbrite. You can have your event online in minutes, ready for the college crowd to come streaming in.