Group of young adults in Halloween costumes with party horns, confetti falling

How to Have the Best Halloween as a College Student

Want to know the "proper" way to celebrate Halloween at college? Read on for tips and tricks to have the ultimate spooky holiday on campus!

Remember Halloween when you were a little kid? It was epic: You got to dress up as your favorite superhero or Disney princess, walk around the neighborhood, and gather enough Snickers bars to produce a jaw full of cavities. But Halloween as a college student? Please—we all know that’s almost more epic than that childhood Lion King costume you still brag about. You don’t have a curfew, you don’t need parental supervision, and, most importantly, you still get the candy. Want to make the most out of your college Halloween experience? Here's what you need to do!

Dress up

Seriously, do it. Funny costumes, outlandish costumes, sassy costumes—enjoy being able to dress and act like a crazy person during your prime crazy-person years. However, if I see any of you wear all black, put on cat ears, and call yourself a cat, I’m driving to your dorm and locking you in until you think of something more imaginative. A few college costuming pointers:

  • Start thinking about your costume in early October so you can plan accordingly and order things online if necessary. You'll also have plenty of time to make your own costume if you choose to go that route. You could even host a Halloween costume/craft session in your dorm room.
  • Be creative! (I’m looking at you, cat.) Use inspiration from things like pop culture, campus leaders, and celebrities, or even consider bringing more abstract ideas to life. Also, can we all just agree that we've heard more than enough politics and it doesn't need to infiltrate our Halloween costumes?!?!
  • Take advantage of clothes and supplies you already own. Your friends and roommates will likely be happy to let you borrow some things too! And if you need help, just Google "DIY Halloween costumes." You'll have more ideas than you can shake a stick at.
  • Don’t even think about having a tasteless costume that’s insulting to anyone. (Students once dressed up as victims of Virginia Tech’s campus shooting. Trust me—no one found that funny at all.)
  • See if your crew wants to do a group costume. You can find some great ideas online. This is a good way to get your friends or dorm residents together and more in the Halloween spirit! 

Related: Last-Minute Costume Ideas Based on Your Favorite Class

Do something scary

Hold on—I don’t mean terrorize your dorm or neighborhood. Halloween is about having a good time, and there are tons of fun, spooky things to do on campus, so take advantage of them. Some ideas to keep in mind:

  • Host your own Halloween party in your dorm! Costumes mandatory. Yeah, it'll be cramped. But that's part of the fun. And if you need inspiration, Pinterest is crawling with Halloween ideas.
  • Take part in your college's Halloween traditions, from hosting local kids for trick-or-treating to campus Halloween festivals. Check out your school's website or social media for fun (and free) events! 
  • Find haunted houses or Halloween parties hosted by different organizations on campus. The cafeteria will likely get in on the fun with themed foods and decorations. Plus, Criminal Justice departments often set up crime scenes for students to explore—you can skip the paper skeletons and get the real thing!
  • Check out what's happening in the greater campus community, like ghost tours or street festivals. For example, if you go to school in the Boston area, get yourself to Salem, where the legacy of the Witch Trials has made this town seriously into its Halloween celebrations.

Be safe

You knew this part was coming, didn't you? Your mother probably says this all the time, but it bears repeating: Be safe! Halloween is a big night for fun, but it also sees a huge spike in crime (including violent crime and assault) as well as personal injuries. Tips for staying above the fray:

  • Travel in groups and plan ahead so you’re always with at least one other person at all times.
  • Don't share your location publicly. However, it might be a good idea to share your location with a good friend temporarily, like for the duration of an evening you're out.
  • Keep an eye on your drinks, and don’t let anyone else pour or hold on to your beverages for you. "Don't take candy from strangers" holds true even as a college student.
  • Don’t risk a walk home in the dark alone; take a cab, Uber, the subway, etc. Make sure you have some cash just in case. Additionally, many schools offer free transportation services for their students, and they can usually get a car to you (including complimentary cab rides) if you're in a jam. Add your school's campus safety number to your contacts so you can give them a call if need be.
  • Wear bright colors if you venture outside, and make sure you know everyone you’re traveling, partying, or trick-or-treating with.

Related: How to Stay Safe on Campus on Halloween

My biggest tip of all? Have fun! Once you graduate college, you run into fewer (and fewer appropriate) occasions to dress up and eat tons of candy—so take advantage of what could easily be your best Halloween experiences!

What are you doing to keep things spooky this Halloween? Find last-minute costumes and fun party ideas right here on CollegeXpress! 

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About Catherine Seraphin

Catherine Seraphin

Catherine Seraphin is a Multimedia Project Manager at Harvard University and a former Assistant Editor/Online Specialist for CollegeXpress. Catherine graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Journalism, a minor in English, and course concentrations in Business. She was previously an in-depth arts reporter for Penn State’s student-run newspaper, The Daily Collegian, and interned as a features reporter at a paper based in Southern Massachusetts. Catherine previously had a full-year internship with a well-known higher education PR firm. Her favorite experiences during college include her two years as a resident assistant and her involvement in THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. There, she was on the PR committee that helped THON become the third-most tweeted topic worldwide. When she isn’t working, you can find Catherine shopping, reading, or running.


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