U.S. University Student Life

3 minutes

College is an exciting time for young people across the world. For many students in the U.S., it is their first experience living on their own, away from their families. It is a time to exercise independence and responsibility, to learn, and also a time to have a lot of fun. While attending class and pursuing degrees is the ultimate goal of college, often it is the time spent outside of class that creates the most memories. What exactly is life like for students in U.S. universities and colleges? Below are some topics we explore relating to student life. What are some similarities and differences with university student life outside the U.S.?


The social aspect of the U.S. university student life is arguably the most important. Many students form some of their lifelong friendships during college. These friendships are often much deeper than the friendships formed during high school because during college, not only are you attending class with the other students, but you are also living with them as well. Residence halls are a very common type of housing at universities and college, but some students may choose to live in apartment-style housing as well. Either way, you are constantly surrounded by other students and that creates an atmosphere of intense social interaction.

Read more about college friendships here, including articles written by current and former U.S. university students.


Extracurricular activities are a huge part of student life at U.S. colleges and universities, and most institutions will have a wide variety of faculty and student led clubs. Depending on your interests and hobbies, you are sure to find a club with others who share those same interests. If not, it is common at many U.S. universities to allow students to start their own group on campus. At any given university or college, one can find academic, awareness, multicultural, political, religious, special interest and volunteer groups.

One of the biggest student organizations on any campus is most likely the student government association, which plans events on campus for the student body including dances, concerts and speakers, and it also represents the student body at school-wide meetings and functions.

Check out Harvard's list of student organizations. There is even a club for beekeepers!


At many colleges and universities in the U.S., the sports culture plays a big role in student life. Sports can range from Division 1 teams at Big Ten universities to intramural teams at liberal arts colleges. While the competition and intensity vary depending on school and sports team, the unifying factor is sports brings students together, on and off the field. For students who did not play a sport in high school or wish to try a new sport in college, intramural or club sports are great outlets for new experiences. For students who do not wish to participate in sports, the sports culture can still be enjoyed as a spectator. Tailgating is a unique aspect of college sports culture and refers to when people gather before big games and eat and hang out. Check out USA Today's 10 best tailgates in college football.

Check out our blog on college football for more information.

Ever heard of the sport, broomball?

How Students Spend Free Time

As noted above, while there are many ways to get involved in activities at a college or university, a large part of student life is also the unstructured hang time. On nice days, you will find many students outside, on blankets, talking or reading, or throwing a frisbee. Lawn games like cornhole, hacky sack and KanJam are also common games to be played on campus quads. A quad refers to a central green space on a college campus, usually surrounded by residence halls and classrooms. Check out this list of the 14 most beautiful and iconic American campus quads. U.S. college students have plenty of opportunities to meet new people and enjoy themselves in college, the challenge is finding time to study!

Image via www.petersons.com/college-search/international-students-american-universities.aspx

Ani Kington Ani Kington

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.

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