We respect people’s privacy, so we tend to minimize the amount of eavesdropping and gossiping we do. However, sometimes we can’t help it—the things that we accidentally overhear are soooo good that we just can’t wait to share them with all of our friends and, well, everyone online. If you keep your ears open, you might hear the most hilarious and bizarre things echoing down the halls of your college or university. Higher education provides enough gossip-worthy tea and beans for spilling to keep us all entertained for days on end.
That’s where the super popular ‘Overheard University’ Instagram page comes in. It’s a spin-off account that sprouted to complement the massively successful ‘Overheard LA’ account that Jesse Margolis founded back in 2015. Since then, the ‘Overheard’ project has grown massively. We’ve collected some of the funniest things that were overheard at universities everywhere for your enjoyment, Pandas, so have a scroll down and upvote your favorite ones.
In the mood for some more ‘Overheard’ greatness? We’ve got you covered. Check out Bored Panda’s articles about ‘Overheard New York’ here and here, our recent features of ‘Overheard LA’ here and here, as well as our list of the best posts from ‘Overheard London’ right over here.
Bored Panda was interested to find out more about working at a university, so I reached out to Lisa McLendon, the William Allen White Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications and the coordinator of the Bremner Editing Center at the University of Kansas.
"It’s fun to be surrounded by people who are experts in a wide variety of topics. I learn so much from my colleagues all over campus, plus we have many interesting guest speakers who come to campus for lectures and workshops," Lisa shared with Bored Panda.
"I love working with students at all levels, helping to prepare them as they begin their journey into the world. As with any job, there are challenges, such as often having more work than time, and the bureaucratic aspects of working in a large organization," Lisa from the University of Kansas explained to Bored Panda some of the pros and cons of her job.
I also wanted to get Lisa's opinion about what kind of dynamic and relationship between university professors and students leads to the best academic results. In short, I was curious about the most effective way of teaching students. Hands-on teaching, practical projects, and professors willing to explain each step lead to the best outcomes.
"Research has found by now that simply passing down knowledge isn’t the best way for students to learn in most cases. Professors have the expertise but—as the old journalism maxim says— 'show, don’t tell' is usually a more effective way to teach," Lisa said.
"Having students do projects, whether they’re semester-long or small enough to do in a class period, helps them learn skills and present their knowledge in a more meaningful way. Showing students how to do each step and then having them do it for themselves helps them retain the skill and gain confidence."
Much of the ‘Overheard’ project’s success on Instagram can be explained by the hilarious content that it posts (who here doesn’t enjoy a hearty chuckle with their first or second cup of coffee?), as well as its engagement with its audience.
All of the ‘Overheard’ Instagram accounts invite people to share the things that they’ve heard with the project, with a chance of getting their conversations featured. “We’re all ears,” the tagline on the Instagram accounts isn’t just for show—it’s a promise.
Currently, the ‘Overheard University’ account has just over 324k followers on Instagram. Meanwhile, ‘Overheard LA’ has a whopping 1.6 million fans, with ‘Overheard New York’ trailing only slightly behind, boasting 1.5 million.
‘Overheard London’ is a bit more reserved than the most popular accounts, hosting ‘only’ 400k fans while ‘Overheard LE LABO’ is still getting used to Instagram with a relatively modest (yet still impressive) follower count of 77.5k. These accounts are just the tip of the iceberg.
Previously, my colleague Liucija reached out to one of the ‘Overheard’ project’s representatives to learn more about it. “While our home will always be Instagram, we have begun to expand to other verticals such as text via the community app Clubhouse, where we host a biweekly comedy show and are exploring some really exciting product ventures,” the rep explained to Bored Panda.
The ‘Overheard’ spokesperson told Bored Panda that the aim of the project is to connect people through something they have in common, like a shared location or experience. “Whether that is living in NYC (@overheardnewyork), dating on Bumble (@overheardbumble), or talking about celebrities (@overheardcelebs). It’s our goal to make people laugh and provide moments of joy and self-reflection,” they said.
The entire project has reached such heights, that it’s partnered up with a host of well-known companies. “We are fortunate to work with great brands like Bumble, Le Labo, Netflix, etc. Currently, we see ourselves as social-first local media, and plan to expand into podcasts, local events, product, and more video content,” the spokesperson said.
Jesse, the founder of ‘Overheard,’ started the Instagram project on a whim 6 years ago after “listening to a stereotypically LA conversation at a health food store,” The New York Times writes. Since then, Jesse has expanded his approach from just digital entertainment.
The founder of ‘Overheard’ took the entire brand in a fresh new direction by publishing an honest-to-God physical, printed ‘newspaper’ called ‘The Overheard Post.’ It’s a lot of fun, for fans of satire featuring things like a ‘millennial weather report’ and tongue-in-cheek ‘obituaries’ for plastic straws and other things.
Jesse told The New York Times that he and his team do their best to inspect and vet the stories they receive from internet users. “We aren’t journalists—we basically do our best. I think half of the overheard stuff is legit overheard strangers. I think a lot of it is like a group of five friends drinking and talking. And someone spontaneously says something funny and the friends send it in,” he said.
“We’re curating user-generated content, but we’re also directing it toward millennial themes in a different way. The reason the accounts are successful is because we’re not just posting some dumb quote—we’re focusing on these themes of dating and digital life and food and fitness and Instagram culture and all that stuff. So we definitely do our best.”