Sometimes college students need to take a break from studying as a way to hit the reset button. The best time to take a break is at night, after the school day ends. When most people hear the words “college nightlife,” they equate them with partying. While there will always be the local pub, bar, or club where students hang out and listen to music, dance, and yes, party, I challenge you to think beyond the traditional party scene and look at the wide array of other fun ways college students spend their nights. This list is broken into two areas: on campus activities and off campus activities.
When you want something fun to do, start with the most convenient option and think about what's happening on campus and check out:
- Your college’s activity planning group—many schools have a group of students who are involved with bringing talent to campus, asking current students to perform, and planning fun activities (like trivia nights, karaoke, movie showings, and food-themed events) that cater to a wide variety of interests.
- Sporting events—show some school spirit and cheer on your classmates to a victory!
- Lectures—to borrow a phrase from Luther professor Amy Weldon, this could be your time to “geek out!”
- Live music—many colleges have venues on their campuses that host live music. These could be students groups or musicians, or the college might bring in regional or national talent.
- Intramural sports—get your body moving and play your favorite sport or try something new!
- Theatre productions—from Shakespearean classics to Broadway musicals, there might be a production happening right on campus.
- Look to your RA (resident assistant) for upcoming activities on your floor. You might not even have to leave your residence hall to have a good time!
- Book club—find some friends, choose a book, and have fun discussing it. You might even decide to make snacks that relate to the book.
- Game night—whether you’re into card games, board games, video games, or classic group games like tag and hide-and-go-seek, find a group of people and game on!
- Floor dinners—this doesn’t mean eating on the floor (although I suppose you could do that, too), but it does mean getting the people who live on your floor together for dinner. You could create a group table in the cafeteria, order pizza to share in the study lounge, or come up with a themed meal and do it potluck style.
- If you just have too much work to do, maybe you compromise and have a “study party” in your room or on your floor’s study lounge. Ask everyone to bring a snack to share while you get work done, too.
- Dance parties—rotate dance party hosts on your floor and get everyone together to dance to one song every night.
- Meet for a late night treat—text your friends and get together for dessert at your campus’s café or restaurant.
- Plan and organize an event—if you and your friends want to have a themed event, talk with your RA or campus activity planning group, and start a new college tradition.
If you're wanting to experience activities away from the college, look into:
- Explore your college’s town or city—get to know your surroundings! It’s especially important to do this your first year when you don’t know what fun opportunities exist off-campus.
- Go for a nighttime stroll and maybe stop for dessert along the way.
- Find a bench or a patch of grass and stargaze. Sometimes the little things can be the most rewarding.
- Camping—whether you’re a seasoned camper or someone who just wants to sleep under the stars, find a local campground and reserve a site. Maybe you’ll be lucky and find a couple options right in town.
- Go out to eat—skip the cafeteria for an evening, and choose a fun restaurant. It can be nice to get a break from caf. food and treat yourself.
- See a movie—even in the age of Netflix and Amazon Prime, there’s something special about going to the theatre and seeing movies on the big screen.
- Special events—look into events like poetry slams, live music, theatre productions, and trivia nights.
- Darts, ping-pong, and pool at the local sports bar—you could even start a tournament or a league that meets regularly.
- Watch a sporting event at a local venue, like a sports bar or restaurant. Many students don’t have their own TVs in their room, so this would be a great way to catch the big game like the Super Bowl or World Series.
Now go have some fun!