10 In-Person and Online Welcome Week Activity Ideas

As students prepare for the new academic year, universities are gearing up to welcome new and returning students this Fall 2021. The pandemic, specifically the Delta variant, has been a cause of concern for many universities as they decide between predominantly in-person activities or hosting virtual events online.

Whether your college leans toward one method, we wanted to help your team plan for a hybrid. Here are ten welcome week activity ideas you can execute for your students who prefer to participate on campus or for your students who would like to join in the fun remotely.

1) Food Fest

In-person: Who doesn’t love a good food truck? Organize some of your favorite local food trucks for students to try and learn what nearby food options your area has to offer throughout the school year. And at the same time, support your local small businesses and community.

Online: Convenience and deals are always a win for college students. Team up with local restaurants that offer delivery options. It’s worth inquiring if they have special student discounts that you can send to students in a list that they can search and take advantage of in their own time.

2) Campus Community Resource Fair

In-person: Allow students to see what academic and social resources are available to them. Have different departments and student organizations table outside to promote their services and start igniting that on-campus community.

Online: Set up a virtual campus community resource fair where students can watch introductory videos, read about the different offerings, or direct message organizations that interest them. They can get to learn about their college resources even before stepping onto campus.

3) Movie Night

In-person: Bring out the projector, prepare some snacks, and invite students to bring a blanket for an outdoor movie night. You can even poll students to see what their favorite genre is through your campus portal. Help determine what movie the majority of the students will want to watch.

Online: There’s also a good ol’ modern Teleparty. Host a virtual watch party by sending out a link and enabling students to group chat and connect as they all hang out virtually wherever they are. Step up the virtual party even more by preparing watch party packages filled with snacks and goods that they can drop in and pick up from campus if they’d like.

4) Town Hall with the President

In-person: Introduce your students to campus leadership with a Q&A town hall session. Accept questions from students, cover pertinent topics such as health and safety on campus, or how your university is investing in more campuswide mental health resources. Demonstrate to your students that you listen to their input and care about their well-being.

Online: Host a virtual conference link or provide an AMA messaging channel to connect your students in a remote setting.

5) Live Concert

In-person: It’s been a long time since most of us attended a live show. If it’s within your budget, invite a guest performer to do a live performance and welcome back students to campus. We have no doubt that your students will be incentivized to check out the campus and participate.

Online: With live stream capabilities, host live shows online that your students can also enjoy!

6) Comedy Club

In-person: It’s highly likely students will make fond first memories as they watch local comedians share their best material.

Online: Kickstart the new academic year on a positive note with a virtual comedy club showcase. Rather than figuring out how many tables and chairs you’ll need to set up or have to cap off the number of audience members, expand your capacity online.

7) Talent Show, Open Mic Night

In-person: With new first-year students approaching, there’s bound to be extraordinary hidden talents. Invite students to sign up, perform, and make a fantastic first impression with their incoming class.

Online: With the power of hosting online, students’ production values can be as top peak as their heart desires. With access to their entire drum kit or the ability to take their camera to their local skatepark, your talent showcase will be top tier.

8) Scavenger Hunt

In-person: Empower students to explore their new campus with a series of entertaining tasks. Assign groups, pass out clues and maps and offer a prize at the end. They’ll not only get a crash course in locating their way around the campus, but it’s an opportunity to meet classmates and form new friendships.

Online: With a campus portal build your virtual scavenger hunt where students can explore the platform while learning fun facts about their university. You can still designate break-out groups to work together, connect and form bonds in this setting.

9) Bingo Photo Contest

In-person: Another easy activity to garner participation in the classic game of bingo! Create cards with tasks specifically highlighting your university. You can even take bingo one step further and turn it into a photo contest where students have to snap photos to prove their completed square. Such as, take a photograph with a student wearing a university hoodie or take a selfie with the school mascot. There are tons of fun and creative tasks to think of, and your team will have loads of fun brainstorming and planning it as well.

Online: A bingo photo contest can take place anywhere. With the power of mobile phones, create a printable scorecard that remote students can access and fulfill tasks from their location.

10) Games Galore

In-person: From board games to trivia to sports, you can never go wrong with hosting different genres of participatory games. Plus, you can offer prizes like university merch or a gift card to the bookstore on campus.

Online: Last academic year, virtual computer games were all the rage, including Among Us tournaments or online trivia. Survey your new and returning students to see what games interest them and design activities based on their favorites.