College isn’t just about going to class. One of the most satisfying parts of the college experience is joining clubs on campus. And if you don’t see a club that fits the way you’d like to get involved, you can start your own.
Small community colleges, huge state universities and schools in between have clubs for all sorts of interests. There are club sports, community-service clubs, religious clubs, groups focused on global cultures and a lot more.
Brian Wooten, board chairman of the National Association for Campus Activities, says a growing number of students nationwide are starting clubs. “We’re seeing more and more students with an array of interests,” Wooten says.
One of those students is Uwa Oduwa, a senior at St. John Fisher College (www.sjfc.edu). Last year she helped launch her campus Marketing Club in place of a different group that folded after all the seniors in it graduated. Oduwa, who’s majoring in management, says her duties as co-vice president of the Marketing Club took a lot of time and effort. She and the club’s other founders organized events, raised money and recruited new members.
“You have to be willing to put the extra time in,” Oduwa says.
Each college has different rules for student organizations, but most schools require new clubs to have a certain number of members and a faculty advisor. You might also have to submit a proposed budget. The student life or student involvement office can fill you in about how things work.
A suitable faculty advisor is one of the most important people in a successful club. Wooten says most faculty and staff members don’t receive any extra money for advising a club, so you’ll need to find someone who is enthusiastic about your organization. A good advisor will attend your club’s meetings and give guidance.
Your club will also need money. Wooten says some colleges give a little seed money to new groups, but you’ll have to raise more on your own. Oduwa suggests outlining what your club wants to do each year. In March she and six other members of the Marketing Club attended an American Marketing Association collegiate conference in New Orleans. They got some of the money from fundraisers like raffles and a T-shirt sale.
Keep your club going
When should you start a club? Whenever you have the passion, time and initiative to make it work. If you have a great idea during the first semester of your freshman year, don’t be stopped by the fact that you’re still getting used to college.“It takes a great deal of work to make a student organization sustainable,” says Wooten, who’s also director of the Center for Student Leadership at Kennesaw State University (www.kennesaw.edu). Clubs don’t become integral parts of campus life right away, so it’s good if you can stick around long enough to get lots of other students interested. But you can’t make your club successful all by yourself. Let others take on some of the responsibilities.
“One of the major pitfalls that a lot of students fall into is that they want to do everything themselves because they don’t think anyone else can do it as well as they do,” Wooten says.
College students are busy, so before joining your club they’ll want to see what’s in it for them. Oduwa says her school’s Marketing Club promotes the group as a way to build members’ résumés. For example, the club invites guest speakers from nearby businesses. Students can network with professionals who could help them find a job or internship.
Plus, the members who went to the American Marketing Association conference got to meet students from all over the United States and hear from people who work for big-name companies like Google and Converse. And they came back to campus with two awards for videos they entered in a national competition.
“It all does pay off if you remain dedicated,” Oduwa says.
Want to start a club on campus?