How to Start a Club in High School

McCutchen

How to Start a Club in High School

WHY start a club?

For fun!  The best reason to start a club is that you are excited about something and want to share it with your peers! Starting a club that doesn’t really interest you will be a burden and will always lack the shine that comes from a labor of love. The first thing to address when figuring out how to start a club, is finding the most interest topic to you.

Related content: Finding Your Passion in High School

For college applications!  Starting a club shows leadership, initiative, motivation, passion, organization, and responsibility— many of the qualities that colleges seek.  But here’s an important caveat: admissions officers can tell when your new club was created just for show.  Having read thousands of Ivy League applications, I can’t tell you how many times I groaned over seeing yet another “Chess Club” started senior fall.

WHAT club should you start?

Start a club that helps you and your peers pursue an interest on a deeper level. Maybe this actually is the ubiquitous chess club, a college apps mainstay; if you truly love chess you should go for it! Maybe you and a couple of friends want to kickstart a wider interest in an academic subject, artistic endeavor, sport, or hobby. For example, one of our students was interested in the psychology behind acting, so he started a Psychology Film Club where they screened films like Pscyho and Black Swan and afterwards discussed the psychology behind them.

Start clubs that pool talented people and resources together and promote social action. Classic club material includes tutoring groups, animal rescue support, or organizing donations drives. Or when thinking about how to start a club, consider one that celebrates and supports aspects of your community (such as a cultural heritage association, friendship alliance, or support group)!

Start a local chapter of a national group and join a larger entity. Examples include Students Against Destructive Decisions, Model United Nations, Future Business Leaders of America.  If your school doesn’t currently have a chapter of a group that interests you, you may be able to start one or revive one that has died out.

WHO should you get to join?

Expand your circle.  A club is more than just hanging out with people who are already your friends. By opening your mind and membership to all newcomers, you can have greater impact in your community.

Value the few. Not every club has to be huge to be meaningful. While your school may require a threshold membership number for official status, if you are passionate about what you are doing, don’t let small numbers deter you.  It’s okay to start small.  Your determination makes the effort worthwhile.

WHERE should your club meet?

Consider your options.  When considering how to start a club, thinking through the logistics is an important step. An after school or lunchtime club on school grounds is the obvious choice, but it may not be the only one.  Public libraries, local universities, recreation departments, places of worship, even your own home— these are all possibilities.  Each option comes with its own benefits and drawbacks. If your first choice space has insurmountable barriers, investigate a new location!

Use technology. Social media clubs are another way to connect like-minded peers.  Consistency and tangible results will be super important if your club is virtual, so build a framework and track activity.

HOW should you get started?

Write a proposal.  Put your ideas in writing.  Draft a one page summary of what you hope to accomplish with your club, where and when you plan to meet, and a list of any potential-members who have expressed interest.

Find a mentor.  Even if your club will not be required to have an adult advisor, I recommend that you get one.  An adult sponsor can be useful in many practical ways and may be able to write a great college letter of recommendation later.  Teachers, coaches, community leaders or family members are all good choices.  If you live near a university you may be able to connect with college students who share your interest and are willing to sponsor you.  Especially when thinking through the details of how to start a club, having an experienced mentor is key.

Learn the rules.  If your club will be affiliated with your school and meet on school grounds, you will need to follow school policy.  Talk with school leaders and make sure that you meticulously fulfill their requirements. 

WHEN should you begin?

Start today. If you have an idea for a new club, today is the day to write down your plans and start gathering information.  Even if you think you don’t want to start your high school club before the new academic year, the process begins now! The summer is a great time to get organized.

Start tomorrow. Talk to school advisors and other adult mentors.  Get feedback on your idea right away.  Don’t be discouraged even when they discourage you!  Starting a club is hard!

Start yesterday. It is never too early to start this process, and it always takes longer than you think!  The longer your club has existed, the more impact you can have and the more impressive it will be.  Clubs that have time to grow, attract members, and accomplish goals will be more beneficial in every way.

What are you waiting for?

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