Accountants know numbers. Doctors understand medicine. And student affairs professionals? We’re (unofficial) experts on icebreakers.
But, sometimes, you might not have the time or the energy to play charades, set up a human knot, or design a scavenger hunt. You might be looking for something more lowkey.
With that in mind, I’d like to offer you some quick and easy questions that can break the ice and charm any group of students. This list should save you from attempting to cram a variety of questions into your already packed brain.
And spoiler alert: Two Truths and One Lie isn’t included. (I know you already know it.)
Oh, but if you’re looking for longer activities that involve more than just a question, we have a resource for that, too.
What’s Your Favorite…
These questions especially work well you’re pressed for time. They require only a few words to answer, yet they can help participants discover mutual interests and passions.
1. …TV character?
2. …Song lyric?
3. …Water bottle brand?
4. …Candy bar?
6. …Type of cookie?
7. …Type of sandwich?
8. …Ice cream flavor?
9. …Comfort food?
10. …Disney or Pixar movie?
11. …TV show or movie from your childhood?
13. …Chain store or restaurant?
15. …Fictional villain?
19. …Historical event?
20. …Weird fact?
21. …Kitchen utensil?
23. …Board game or card game?
24. …Music video?
26. …Dance move? (show us!)
These questions dip a little deeper than “favorites” but should still be pretty easy for most students to answer. Inquiring about personal experiences, which all students should be able to relate to, is a great way to prompt reflection, elicit nostalgia, and forge connections.
27. What was the first movie you ever saw?
28. What was your first internet username?
29. Who did you admire as a kid?
30. What job did you want as a kid?
31. What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
32. What’s the first trend you remember loving?
33. What’s a canceled TV show you miss?
34. What was the best gift you’ve ever received?
35. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
36. If your life had a theme song, what would it be, and why?
37. What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
38. What’s the coolest thing you remember learning, and how did you learn it?
39. What’s your proudest accomplishment from high school?
40. What’s the first book or children’s story you remember loving?
P.S. If you’d like to take an even deeper dive into exploring issues of identity and privilege, I wrote about seven activities to help with that here.
Aspirations and Interests
College is all about self-exploration, and even a simple icebreaker question can highlight that idea. These questions allow students to boast about themselves, articulate their hopes, and laugh over shared quirks.
41. What is a talent or skill you wish you had?
42. Which Olympic sport would you most want to compete in?
43. What is a TV show, movie, or book you enjoyed recently and would enthusiastically recommend?
44. What activities were you involved with in high school?
45. What is a TV show, movie, or book you love that most people hate?
46. What job would you most want, if pay and prestige didn’t matter?
47. What job would you least want to have?
48. What’s your go-to Karaoke song?
49. What talent or accomplishment would you most want to become famous for?
50. What’s one topic you almost never get tired of talking about?
51. If you could teach everyone here a new skill, what would it be?
52. Who would you want directing the story of your life?
53. What do you love most about (your institution’s name)?
Would You Rather…
Although students are unlikely to ever face these wonderous dilemmas, they’re still fun to imagine. Some will challenge students to identify their values, others might lead to spirited debates, and many will simply be good for laughs.
54. …Be able to pause, rewind, or fast-forward your life whenever you want?
55. …Be able to communicate with all animals or understand every current human …language?
56. …Be able to breathe underwater or fly?
57. …Be able to control space or control time?
58. …Be able to see ten minutes into your own future or ten minutes into the future of …anyone but yourself?
59. …Be a centaur or a mermaid?
60. …Go into the past and meet your ancestors or go into the future and meet your great-great-grandchildren?
61. …Win an Olympic gold medal, a Nobel Peace Prize, a Grammy Award, or an …Academy Award?
62. …Have a horse’s tail or a unicorn’s horn?
63. …Lose the ability to lie or always believe everything you’re told?
64. …Experience the beginning of planet earth or the end of it?
65. …Live in an amusement park or a zoo?
66. …Be able to see the future or change the past?
67. …Know when you’ll die or how?
68. …Be able to talk to the dead or be immortal?
69. …Be able to taste colors or see smells?
Similar to the above questions, this set challenges students to use their imaginations and showcase their creativity. They inquire about interests but in a way that’s wackier — and hopefully, more fun — than the usual questions they hear from parents, professors, or guidance counselors.
70. …Were an ice cream flavor, what would you be, and why?
71. …Could have any superpower, what would you want, and why?
72. …Could instantly become an expert in any subject or field, what would that be, and why?
73. …Could time travel to any year, past or future, when would you pick, and why?
74. …Could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?
75. …Could host a party with three celebrities, living or dead, who would you invite, and why?
76. …Could adopt any animal, including rare species and fictional creatures, what would you adopt, and why?
77. …Could live in any fictional world or land, what would that be, and why?
78. …Hosted a talk show, who would you want to interview as your first guest?
79. …Could cast anyone to portray you in the story of your life, who would that be, and why?
80. …Had to wear the same t-shirt with a word or phrase on it for a year, what would you want that word or phrase to be?
81. …Knew you wouldn’t fail, what one thing would you do?
82. …Had to star in a reality show, which should would you pick, and why?
83. …Wrote a memoir, what would the title be, and why?
84. …Met the Wizard of Oz, what would you ask for?
85. …Could instantly learn another language without studying it, which one would you pick?
86. …Could hang out with a fictional character for a day, who would you pick and what would you do together?
87. …Were the last person on Earth, how would you keep yourself entertained?
88. …Won the lottery, what is the first thing you’d buy?
89. …Could bring back any fashion trend, what would it be?
90. …Had to be stranded on a deserted island with either your worst enemy or no one, which would you choose, and why?
91. …Could name a newly discovered planet or star, what would you name it, and why?
92. …Could add anyone to Mt. Rushmore, who would that be, and why?
93. …Could be adopted by any fictional family, which would you pick, and why?
94. …Met an alien, what’s the first question you’d ask them?
95. …Could invent a new word, what would it be and what would it mean?
96. …Could have the world’s largest collection of anything, what item would you want that to be?
97. …Could break any world record, which would you pick?
98. …Were stuck in a Zombie apocalypse, what three famous people would you want on your team?
99. …Could go back in time and meet your five-year-old self, what would you what to tell them?
100. …Had to have three songs represent your personality and life, which would you select?
Hopefully, among these 100 questions, you’ll find at least a few that will ignite students’ passions, while encouraging them to open up and discover common connections.
Now, here’s a bonus question: What other icebreaker questions do you love? Let us know on Twitter @HelloPresence.