Having to juggle SAT and ACT prep, AP classes, fine arts and athletics, community service, and jobs definitely puts a strain on high school students. With so much already on their plates, should students still take part in school clubs? How much emphasis do colleges place on school clubs? In this article, we take a look at the pros and cons of being a member of school clubs, as well as our take on what you can do to maintain a steady yet sensible schedule.
What school clubs are available to me?
Of course, this depends on what school you attend! Whereas some schools have a limited number of clubs, others have hundreds – yes, hundreds – of them. At the least, most high schools contain a Student Council and an NHS (National Honor Society) program. As these programs are highly esteemed by college admissions officers, it wouldn’t hurt to join one (or both!) if you have the time.
Because there are so many clubs to choose from, make sure to spend a week or two “previewing” different ones to see which ones you like before you commit to them. Hop in to meetings to see what the atmosphere is like, what kind of requirements you must meet, and how many other participants there are. In the end, what matters most is that you join a club (or clubs) with a cause that you are passionate about.
Can I start a school club?
Many high schools allow their students to start clubs if they can find a sponsor and get permission from the school principal. However, I would recommend that you only start an official school club if you have a justifiable purpose. A “movie-watching club,” for example, would not have as much value to colleges as a club designed to raise funds for people in need.
Also, keep in mind that most school clubs already have programs that support (almost) every cause. In my school, for instance, the Environmental Club has monthly community clean-up events, the Make-A-Wish club raises donations for young children in hospitals, the Pencils of Promise club hosts fundraisers to help build schools, and the Computer Science club competes in statewide and national competitions – the list goes on! If you want to start a club, make sure that there isn’t already another club doing what you want to do.
How many clubs should I join?
Although every student has a different schedule, I would generally recommend joining three to four clubs. This is because joining every club your school has to offer – and participating fully in all of them – is guaranteed to drain you out. Because most clubs have a certain number of activities, points, or hours you must meet to be considered an official member, you must be able to devote the time to achieve these requirements.
Think of it this way. Let’s say Brian is a member of the Make-A-Wish Club, HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America), and Spanish National Honor Society. For these clubs, he must attend football games each week to raise money, volunteer at school cultural fairs, and study for frequent health-related competitions. Brian already has quite a lot to do – and he’s only in three clubs! For this reason, make sure you know exactly what is expected of you before you join a club so that you can plan your time accordingly.
Which is better, quality or quantity?
Quality! We highly advise against joining new clubs each year and leaving the previous ones behind. What colleges look for is consistency – rather than taking part in 12 different clubs (3 each year), you should remain in fewer clubs over the course of all four years of high school. This shows college admissions officers that you were dedicated to a certain cause throughout high school rather than just for a short period of time. On the surface, being a member of a hundred clubs may look great on your résumé, but it means little if you barely participated in each of them.
Do colleges look at participation in school clubs?
They certainly do, but your acceptance into college does not depend on how many clubs you are a part of. Your main focus should be on your grades and on performing well in your classes. Typically, everything else – clubs, extracurriculars, jobs, etc. – comes second. So, it would be in your best interest to join a few clubs if your schedule can handle it. If not, don’t sweat it, because there are plenty of other things that you can do to impress admissions officers!
What if I held an office in a club? Would colleges take that into consideration?
Yes, depending on the club. Holding an office indicates to college admissions officers that you possess leadership skills, or that you’re good at organizing, speaking, or even helping others. Although it is virtually impossible for every student to hold an office – there aren’t that many clubs! – you should run in an election when given the chance. Being an officer is a great opportunity to not only prove yourself as a leader, but also to do something noteworthy for your school. It’s a win-win!
So, here’s the big takeaway: Join school clubs with causes that you hold close to you, but don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking that you need to join every club out there. Be consistent with your participation, and only do what you can handle. And remember to relax and enjoy yourself along the way! Don’t just join clubs with the mindset that you have to; instead, join because you want to. By doing so, you’ll be able to have the experience of achieving something great with your peers – and the rewards will be evident.