As you enter the next school year, choosing specific clubs to fit your needs can help you learn new skills, make friends, and have fun!
Whether you’re entering elementary school, middle school, high school, or college, every year your school encourages you to join a variety of student organizations and sports teams. While the myriad of options may all entice you, there is an art to choosing which clubs best suit your goals– academic, social, or personal– so as to best utilize your time.
Finding your reason
Ultimately, each person’s reason for joining clubs differs. Is your goal to try something new, hone skills you already have, or make new friends? Before going to the club fair, answer two key questions:
Why am I joining clubs?
How much time am I willing to invest?
If you are joining clubs purely for academic value, you might only join one club purely for entertainment sake and focus most of your time on clubs of rigor. You might consider National Honor Society, Debate Club, DECA, or Math Club– options that, in the future, show prestige or offer competitions to put your skills to the test with documented results. Pick some areas that you already know you’re skilled in and narrow down to your top three choices. You might also consider investigating a club in an area you aren’t familiar with, so you can learn, grow, and become a more well-rounded person. If you don’t find enjoyment in those areas during the year, that’s ok! You’re by no means bound to participate in the club and can drop it later on.
In your analysis, note that colleges almost always prioritize quality over quantity of clubs. Your university of choice cares more about you consistently performing in a mock trial competition than spreading yourself across five different places at once with not much to show for it. That doesn’t mean that you should restrict yourself to one club (having many interests is good and rounds you out as a person!), but just focus your time. For instance, you might be really good at both Math Club and Track and Field and enjoy participating in both. Being able to allocate time to both is beneficial, not only for your personal enjoyment but for showing your university that you are interested in two different challenging areas. However, it is unnecessary to pressure yourself into participation in 5+ organizations simply for the college recognition when you’re not passionate about it. (And, universities know that you can’t be everywhere at once!)
Over the course of the year, you can drop clubs that you no longer want to participate in. Your initial choices allow you to select some options that, in the future, you can narrow down once you’ve found your interests.
Another objective might be to join organizations to find what you enjoy or find people who share your interests. Clubs’ founding purpose was to provide social opportunities for students to make friends through shared interests. Best Buddies is a crowning example of this, offering social gatherings to grow closer to classmates and kids at nearby schools through mentorship. Student Council allows members to be involved in the community toward a common goal. Even if you consider yourself an academically-oriented person, selecting one or two organizations based on your hobbies or things you’ve wanted to learn can serve you well by providing you a social experience within school.
Don’t spread yourself too thin! Pick a maximum of five organizations and by the end of the year, you’ll likely remain loyal to two or three that you love.
Once you’ve selected some organizations, you’re ready to start signing up! Unfortunately, you may discover some caveats to the selections you’ve made. For instance, you might find that two of your clubs take place at the same time, or you might have a club in mind with additional requirements, like having to be in a designated class period to participate in the club or a greater time commitment than you anticipated. Some of your choices might not be possible for you, and that’s ok! You can still learn those activities on your own, or join those clubs in the future.
Once you come out of the club fair with your finalized list of organizations, you might want to do some research before attending an introductory meeting. See if your friends are in any clubs you might want to go to, or if a faculty member you particularly like is the head of any organization. Talk to other students who are or have been in the club and see their opinions on it. And it’s ok if you don’t know anyone in the club, because you’ll meet people, which is one of the greatest benefits. Attend the first meeting and see what it’s like before you commit.
Deepen Your Engagement
After picking your top two or three clubs, become active in those organizations. Simply acting as a bystander in the group doesn’t gain you much, academically or personally. Try to attend as many club activities outside of school as you can. Often groups will have get-togethers or volunteering that allows you to get to know people better and show your commitment to the club. My debate team went to dinners, hung out at Starbucks, and held parties.
If you know you love the club, you should talk to the administration member in charge about leadership positions. Normally clubs will have Presidents, Vice Presidents, Secretaries, and Treasurers for the official running of the club. Some clubs may also have other positions. Elections are traditionally on an annual basis, with students choosing based on perceived dedication to the club or each candidate’s pitch to the group. Participating over the course of the year can increase your odds of gaining a leadership position, not only from your experience but by getting to know your peers and leader.
A leadership position is not only a great resume boost, but gains you experience in working with other people and furthering what you love doing. However, even without a leadership position, being active in the club offers incredible rewards–skills, opportunities, and friendships.
Start Your Own Club
As you peruse the clubs available to you, you might have a thought of a club that isn’t currently at your school. You’re welcome to start your own club! Often, school faculty support students wanting to impact their community and will aid in the process of establishing the club. The initial process to start a club can be slightly cumbersome, but after its creation, maintaining the club is significantly easier. Starting a club with a classmate can ease the burden, also.
To start a club, gather a group of students who share your interest before going to an administration member to ask for its inception. Showing that there is already an interested community supports your cause. In many schools, a club requires a sponsoring faculty member. (Depending on the type of club, this responsibility might be quite simple or be extensive and necessitate hours of time outside of the school’s commitment). It’s a lot easier to start the club if you talk to the faculty yourself and tell your administration that this person is willing to help, but your school can always help find someone if no one is available. Many schools might let students run the club themselves as long as an adult is in the room to supervise without contributing to the club.
Starting your own club is not only a great way to show your love for the school, but leaves a mark on it for years to come. From an academic standpoint, this is an opportunity for leadership and collaborating with others. From a personal standpoint, you are bringing together classmates who enjoy the same things as you and can share your love and creative passions together.
Joining extracurricular activities at school is always a great way to get to know your classmates and teachers better through a common ground. Clubs can allow you to take leadership positions, working with others to plan events and run meetings, demonstrating your dedication and simultaneously your love for the activity. You can even start your own club and leave a mark on your school for years to come as future students maintain your legacy and uphold your passion at your school.
Clubs are a great way to be active in your community, make friends, and learn new skills
After selecting some clubs that match your interests, narrow that down based on your available time, interest, and value gained
If you’re passionate about a particular club, you can either take a leadership position in an existing organization, or start your own with the school’s approval
The Princeton Review. “How Important Are High School Clubs?” The Princeton Review, 2021, https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/joining-high-school-clubs.