So you want to start your own club at your high school. This is so exciting! Not only does starting a club look good on your college applications, but it can seriously teach you so many things about leadership, coordination, and teamwork. Here’s how you can get started in this endeavor and have a great time doing it.
Starting your club
First of all, you need to be passionate about your club and its mission. If you’re not, the club’s success will quickly decline. Some common clubs in high school include Junior State of America (JSA), LA Times, Mock Trial, HOSA, Key Club (Kiwanis), Interact, Future Business Leaders of America, etc. These clubs have a lot of national or local support, so starting one might be less intimidating. For example, JSA is a youth-led, nationally recognized club, meaning there are many people willing to assist you, providing you a strong foundation. HOSA, Kiwanis, and LA Times are similar. To start one of these chapters at your school, reach out to these organizations at the beginning of the school year or even late in the summer. You can send a direct message on Instagram to one of their accounts or contact them through email provided on their website.
Finding advisors and members
Once they give you some basic information, find an advisor. Usually, schools don’t allow student clubs to exist without an advisor, so find a teacher who would be willing and is as passionate about the club as you are. For most student clubs, advisors are simply there to sign forms and provide a classroom. Ask a teacher who’s open-minded and not too stressed or busy, and be sure to emphasize how much commitment you’ll need from them. Next, you need to recruit people to join your club. This is always the hardest part. You need to get your peers excited and make them want to join your club. Ask your friends, friends of friends, classmates—anyone. Ask teachers you have good relationships with to advertise the club in their classes. You can also ask your school announcements, counselors, or school newspaper to help you advertise your new club. Get creative with recruiting—the larger your club, the better experience it will be.
Building off and sustaining your foundation
A strong foundation means you have a decent number of people in your club, reliable leaders, and a clear vision. After you have at least seven to 10 people signed up, assign leadership roles to members you trust, as it’s very difficult to do everything by yourself. You can do this however you like; you can have a vice president, secretary, treasurer or chief of staff, sergeant at arms, and battalion chief. Don’t fear that assigning roles is undemocratic—you want the club to be successful, so give roles to people who are hardworking and reliable. A democratic process so early may result in a popularity contest, which can hurt the club’s success. Before you hold any meetings, ask yourself where you see the club at the end of the semester. Do you see an increase in club members? Do you have projects you want to successfully complete? Are you going to have a specific, large-scale meeting or event to round out the year? Make sure you know where you’re trying to take your club and how you’ll do it.
Once you’ve had a couple meetings, you’ll learn who the committed members of the club are and who’s just there because they have nothing better to do or need extracurriculars on a résumé. Sometimes clubs have a significant decrease in members as the days go by. To sustain the growth of your club, plan activities that require active participation from the members. Take suggestions from your peers; include them in the planning of activities and execute accordingly. If the first one or two activities are unsuccessful, don’t feel discouraged. It’s important to learn from your mistakes and keep going. You’re not expected to be perfect, but you are expected to keep trying.
When your school has a lot of clubs
If you go to a large school, chances are the common clubs already exist. If you still want to start your own club, you need to get creative. I’ve seen clubs for investing/stock market (a great opportunity to learn about the market yourself), tutoring clubs, college advice clubs, essay/English homework clubs, computer coding, and more. You can start a club on CPR training (if you’re CPR certified), autism awareness, mental health, etc. Whatever it is, you just need to be passionate about it.
Always remember to put your full heart into starting your club. The goal should be to make it last even after you leave high school. Gain traction by advertising as much as possible. There will be hurdles, but getting past them will be a learning experience that makes you a better leader. With passion, hard work, and planning, your club will be a success!
Want to learn more about student clubs and fun extracurriculars? Check out this CollegeXpress podcast episode for more information!