The Inside Scoop on Starting a Club at Your School

Seven students sit around a table and discuss clubs on campus. /

Extracurricular activities at college are a real résumé booster. Finding the right place to dedicate your time might not be so simple, though. If you have a passion but can’t find a relevant club at your school, you’re probably not alone. Which means it’s time someone creates that club on your campus. Do you have the grit to be the one?

We recently caught up with Ashley Rosado, who shared her college story with us. Shortly after that, she began working with a professor and a classmate to rally like-minded individuals interested in becoming members of an applied behavior analysis club at Long Island University. The university has never had anything like it, but because it’s such a popular field, the trio recognized a need for it on their campus.

Of course, it hasn’t been an easy task. Ashley and her classmate have full-time jobs and are pursuing their master’s degrees. “One of the more challenging parts of starting a club was figuring out who to talk to about starting a club,” said Ashley. After sending countless emails, they were finally able to get in touch with the right people and begin working toward their goal. As they move forward with the process, they have been able to give us the inside scoop on starting a recognized on-campus club.

1. First and foremost, find your contact on campus.

Each school assigns the responsibility differently. Begin by reaching out to the campus life office (sometimes known as the student life office) for information. Ask for a contact who can help you find the requirements set by your campus to register a club. After that, you can begin following your school’s guidelines. Generally, they follow a procedure similar to the one outlined below.

2. Find support.

Students in a circle put their hands in the middle after successfully starting a club in college. /

Colleges require that prospective clubs show evidence of support from the student body. Bonus points if you can get faculty to back you up. As Ashley learned, “It has been extremely helpful having the backing of a faculty member, as the campus seems to take us more seriously.” If the campus life office does not see that there are a lot of people interested in participating in this club, it may not approve your application. Do your best to go above and beyond to gather as much support as possible. Some schools may even require you to get a certain number of signatures from students and faculty to demonstrate campus support.

3. Fit the criteria.

Each college varies in its requirements, but it’s likely that your club must at least:

  • Be open to all students who wish to participate
  • Benefit the college community
  • Fit a need on campus
  • Be supported and maintained by a certain number of members, some of whom will be board members (president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary)

4. Create a petition and propose it to the campus life office or relevant office.

You must prepare the paperwork to go before a board that will decide whether or not to approve your club. This is where you will need to pay close attention to your school’s instructions, show your professionalism, and truly stand out. “It’s important to be sure that you have completed all the necessary steps,” said Ashley. “Proofread all documents thoroughly, conduct yourself professionally, be aware of deadlines, and show that you are passionate about your club’s topic and the need for this club on campus.”

Your petition often needs to include the following:

  • The name of the club
  • A mission statement defining the purpose of the club
  • A detailed statement that gives you the opportunity to elaborate on the mission of the club, how it will be utilized by students, and how it differs from similar organizations on campus
  • A budget describing how much funding the club will need per semester
  • A list of members, officers, and executive board positions
    • Note: Clubs must be run by a board that usually consists of a president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary. In most cases, the campus life office wants to see that you will be able to sustain the club. This means having a certain number of members prior to launching.
  • A constitution providing information about the duties of board members and the club’s purpose
  • An agreement signed by all board members swearing to abide by all university rules and regulations

5. Pass a probationary period.

After your club has acquired the stamp of approval, it’s time to start. Clubs have requirements that must be met each semester, but especially within the first few months of the organization’s launch. Colleges want to see that a new extracurricular has benefited their campuses. So, they may set a probationary period. Here’s what is expected from your club in that time:

  • Two students smile after successfully starting a club in college. /

    Maintain an attendance of a specified number of members (usually seven to 10)
  • Organize a club event
  • Sustain a certain amount of meetings per semester
  • Attend some form of club workshop or counseling
  • Meet with a review board at the end of the probation period

Being involved in a club on campus shows teamwork and work-related experience. Starting a club on campus, however, requires leadership and a strong work ethic. It may take some time, some adjustments to the way you manage your time, and some help from friends, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Is there a club missing from your university? Comment below and tell us what college club you want on your campus!

About Katelyn Brush

Katelyn likes learning, good health, traveling, and pizza on Fridays. Her mixed education, composed of SUNY the College at Brockport, a semester at a community college, and one abroad at the University of Oxford, helped her earn a bachelor’s degree in English. College also gave her a few lessons in Taekwondo and sleeping in a hostel dorm with total strangers. She’s a yoga teacher, author and illustrator of the children’s book, “Signing Together: A Guide to American Sign Language for Everyone.” As a Student Caffé writer, she hopes to help you through the highs and lows of college with a laugh ... or 20.

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