Incoming first-year students enter college life full of excitement, high expectations, and an energy that invigorates campus life for years to come. Fostering a strong student community for new students is the easiest, most effective way to create an authentically engaging collegiate atmosphere. Start it off right with engaging freshman welcome event ideas.

Put yourself in the position of a first-year college student when you’re considering freshman welcome event ideas. They’ll be anxious about meeting new people and excited about decorating their dorm room and adjusting to the group living environment. They’ll also be eagerly anticipating their new freedom and life as young adults.

As they bring this energy to campus for the first time, you want to be there with fun events and important information. This will set them up for a college experience that will exceed their expectations and build a community designed to last.

Let’s take a closer look at freshman welcome event ideas you can use to greet incoming students.

Large-Scale Events

Leverage your campus resources and student affairs team to provide incoming students a warm welcome on a large scale.


Just as we bring students from many majors and backgrounds together as one for graduation ceremonies, convocation is an excellent way to build a sense of large-scale community for incoming students.

This large gathering often features prestigious speakers and faculty members. It gives incoming first-year students a clear sense that their presence in the student body is significant.

Here are some of the ways to ensure convocation is one of your most successful freshman welcome event ideas:

  • Hold the event during welcome week. Capitalize on new student energy and set the tone for a great experience.
  • Involve engaging speakers from the faculty and administration. Also, invite high-profile alums and important members of the community at large.
  • Bring in performances from the school’s marching band or dance team.
  • Follow up the formal event with a less formal get-together, such as a picnic or meet and greet.


Concerts have long been a way to bring a group of people together in unity and joy. So let that magic mix help gel your incoming students. Consider hosting a popular band or singer to energize students and create lasting memories from the beginning of their college experience.

You can even choose local artists to help draw additional connections to the campus and the surrounding community.

Food Truck Festivals

Many incoming first-year students are experiencing the freedom of being in charge of their own schedules, activities, and meals for the first time. So, showcase the local cuisine with a food truck festival that gives students a literal taste of campus life!

This is a fun way to bring a group of students together where they can meet, experience a variety of local vendors, and make new friends.

Campus Scavenger Hunts

New students need to identify many key places on campus. These include dining halls, classroom locations, residence halls, and student resources. Large campuses can feel confusing and intimidating to incoming first-year students. So, think of freshman welcome event ideas that help with this objective. A scavenger hunt is a great way to get them engaged with their peers and familiar with their new school!

Build a fun, engaging scavenger hunt that encourages bonding while also highlighting key locations. Make sure your hunt takes participants across campus and builds activities and interactions along the way to make it memorable.

Talent Shows

Invite students to introduce themselves to their new classmates with a talent show. They’ll build confidence while showing off their singing, dancing, and stand-up skills. More importantly, they’ll get a chance to meet peers with similar interests and start making friendships.

Social Events

Student engagement is about more than students interacting with the campus and the planned activities. It’s also about them making friends and finding connections through your freshman welcome event ideas.

Many students come from high schools where they have known the same group of friends for years. Entering college without this social network can be isolating. So the welcome week should have icebreakers and meet-and-greets to make those important friendships easier to build.

Not only will students enjoy their experience more if they have friends alongside them, but having a warm welcome to campus with clear connections has been linked to academic success.

Dance Parties

It’s hard to feel stressed while you’re dancing. There’s a reason that dance parties are one of the most classic icebreakers for social situations.

Mix popular, high-energy music with an inviting, fun environment, and you’ll have a recipe for social success.

Lawn Games

Lawn games offer a relaxed way for students to engage with new friends. Classic games like frisbee, bean bag toss, and volleyball are excellent outdoor meet-and-greet additions.

Students will gravitate toward these invitations and strike up conversations to find fellow participants. These built-in icebreakers are low-key and allow students to meet others on their own terms while enjoying the campus’s outdoor environment.

Ice Cream Socials

Ice cream socials have been a popular meet-and-greet for incoming students for years—and for good reason. The low-key event offers a universally beloved treat while encouraging casual conversation and connection.

Without an hours-long commitment, even timid students will feel welcome at an ice cream social.

Outdoor Movie Nights

Take some of the pressure off of conversation and more active icebreakers by hosting an outdoor movie night. Students will be able to focus on the show while also meeting both new and returning students.

Choosing a classic movie that’s likely to have nostalgic significance to the incoming students will give them an instant bonding experience as they share their memories.

Informational Events and Extracurriculars

New students participating in freshman welcome event ideas in their dorm

In addition to events aimed at socialization and campus orientation, you also want to make sure your incoming students have all the information they need for a successful start to their upcoming school year.

Use the welcome week to host information events. Also, invite student organizations to showcase the extracurriculars available to new first-year students.

Setting up a variety of events and options can also allow students to choose which orientation events they attend, a key element to meeting the needs of a diverse student body.

Resource Center Tours

Campus resources are only useful to students who use them. Welcome week is a great time to set the stage. Give tours of resource centers so that students feel welcome and familiar with the spaces from day one.

From tutoring to mental health support to computer labs, make sure that students get up close and personal with the offerings available to them.

Student Organization Fairs

Your campus is likely a bustling hub of student activity. Each one of those student organizations would love to find new members in the incoming class of students. Give them a chance to showcase their offerings with a student organization fair!

Setting up tables with friendly representatives and important facts about each organization is a great way to let new students see the possibilities all at once. They’ll be able to find the communities that match their interests and start making new friends right away.

Club Fairs

Make sure that the clubs on campus have an opportunity to recruit from the new student body by offering club fairs. Encourage student involvement in extracurricular activities.

When incoming first-year students can see the intramural soccer team next to the chess club next to the poetry slam club, they’ll quickly understand that there’s something for everyone at your school!

Recreational Activities and Sports

If you’re looking for even more freshman welcome event ideas, consider recreational activities and sports that get new students outdoors, engaged with their fellow community members, and having a blast.


A carnival provides classic games, a fun environment, plenty of opportunities to mingle, and high energy.

Utilize student organizations to help bring variety and innovation to the carnival while also promoting themselves to new students for a win-win combination.

University Sports Events

Schedule university sports events during the early days of the school year to help build school spirit and invite incoming first-year students to the campus culture.

There’s nothing like cheering on your team to help you feel connected to your fellow classmates, so host an event where new students are encouraged to dress in the school colors and fill the stands!

Intramural Sports Tournaments

While the high-profile events of your university’s official sports teams are invaluable, don’t forget about intramural sports! Hosting tournaments for these more casual teams is a great way to foster friendly competition and teamwork among students.

Putting in your all on the field is a great way to make new friends and also feel connected to the campus.

Elevate Your Welcome Week Experience for Incoming Students With Concept3D

Incoming students will be dealing with move-in day, new student nerves, an overwhelming amount of information, multiple opportunities to engage with orientation leaders, and off-campus opportunities. Use Concept3D to create a campus events calendar that’s easy to search, shareable on social media, and mobile-friendly.

Design a student orientation experience that brings together in-person and virtual events with Localist. Meanwhile, ensure your students get where they need to go with confidence and ease by utilizing interactive maps to enhance campus tours.

If you’re looking to kick off welcome week with a great start, contact Concept3D for a demo today.