How to Start a Club: Tips from a Dartmouth Student
Both high schools and colleges are home to a lively community of extracurricular activities, catering to a host of niches and interests. Dartmouth has over 160 student organizations and Harvard has 450! Even with such an abundance of clubs, however, you might have an interest you hope to explore for which a club does not yet exist.
Arielle Feuerstein, Dartmouth Class of ‘24, provides helpful steps for creating a club that applies to both colleges and high school alike. Here are some of the steps you need to take if you want to start your own club:
- Brainstorm. What’s missing at your school? What can you bring to the table? What gap would it fill? Students long to belong in a community with people who share similar ideas, identities, or beliefs as they do. This can take form in many ways: Pulkit Nagpal, Dartmouth Class of ‘23, had a passion for origami since he was a child. With his peers, Nagpal created an opportunity to practice origami as well as to use the art of paper folding for philanthropic causes. The organization hopes to donate origami to children in hospitals, schools, community centers, and youth mentoring programs.
These are important questions to ask yourself in high school. Colleges want to admit students who take initiative and are creative, beyond having the near-perfect GPAs and top SAT scores. Leadership skills and drive to be a self-starter will be the determining factors setting you apart from the rest of the A+ crowd. Your involvement in your high school community translates to the roles you’ll be picking up in college, which is why starting early is imperative.
- Figure out the logistics. Gauging student interest is key—recruit interested members and discuss your club’s mission statement, meeting details, and club hierarchy. For example, Feuerstein writes that Sam Locke, Dartmouth class of ‘22, wanted to start a comedy club and started practicing writing sketches with a few friends. After building confidence in their work, the students started “fleshing out” the organization and looked into how to receive funding for necessary equipment.
Reaching out to friends, friends of friends, and classmates to build a network is crucial. Use GroupMe, Facebook groups, classes, and emails to your advantage!
Next, identify a faculty mentor who can help you set up your club! Ask a teacher who you have a good relationship with and can talk to easily. It’s even better if the teacher has expertise in your club’s area of interest.
- Register! Submitting an application to register your club will allow for school funding and easier communication with the student body. To get started, brainstorm your organization name (Dartmouth offers guidance on how to name your club!), email address, mission statement and objectives, and a proposed schedule of programs and events for the coming year–Harvard requires at least two programs to be held during the fall semester and two programs to be held during the spring semester. Dartmouth requires a Constitution, for which they offer a sample with detailed membership information. Other essential pieces of the application will include officer information, a membership list, and your advisor’s contact information.
While the exact registration process varies throughout high schools, check your school calendar for upcoming club fairs and registration deadlines. Finally, seek out the point person for new club proposals, such as someone from the student government or the assistant dean, to help you complete the registration process.
Don’t forget that though starting an organization requires commitment and persistence, it is a unique chance to showcase your true passion. Get this: the sooner the better. For more advice about how to start a club at your high school, check out these tips from our blog!