Do you want to start a club at your high school? If your school doesn’t offer a particular club or group that you’re interested in, starting your own is a great way to meet new people and spend time doing something you enjoy. You'll also get leadership experience that can help strengthen your resume and college applications.
Read on to get step-by-step instructions on how to start a high school club.
Overview of High School Clubs
Before you start your own club, you want to make sure that you understand how high school clubs are run and why they're important.
Clubs are a great way for students to participate in activities they enjoy, learn new skills, and meet new people. High school clubs can cover a wide variety of topics, from math to skiing to protecting the environment and more.
Club meetings are usually held after school. Some clubs meet regularly and require a large time commitment while others meet once a month or less. Each club usually has a teacher or staff member who acts as supervisor. Students can also hold leadership positions in the club, such as president, vice-president, and secretary.
Many students enjoy being in clubs because they give them an opportunity to spend time with their friends and do activities they find fun and interesting. Colleges and employers also like to see students who have participated in extracurriculars such as clubs because it helps them understand a student’s interests better and shows that the student likes being involved and working with other people.
Many high schools offer a wide variety of clubs for students; however, it would be impossible for a high school to offer every single type of club.
Why Would You Start a New Club?
There are multiple reasons why you’d want to start a new club at your school. Some of the most common are listed below:
You Want to Pursue a Hobby You Enjoy
One of the best and most common reasons for starting or joining a club is because it allows you to pursue an activity you enjoy, whether that’s Ultimate Frisbee, baking, or something else. Clubs allow you to practice this hobby, learn more, and get better at it. If your school doesn’t offer a club for the activity or interest you want, then starting your own club will allow you to continue to enjoy this hobby.
You Want to Raise Awareness About a Cause You Care About
If there is a particular issue that you feel strongly about, such as promoting recycling or providing school supplies to students in Africa, you can have an impact by creating a club that focuses on that issue. By starting a club, you can increase awareness of a particular problem, collect money or supplies to donate, and possibly spend time volunteering to help improve the issue.
You Want to Meet People With Similar Interests
Joining a club can be a great way to meet other students with similar hobbies and interests. You get to enjoy your interest with other people and can learn more about it by working with them.
You Want to Gain Leadership Experience
An excellent way to get leadership experience is by starting a new club. You will learn how to create a new organization, recruit members, and get it running smoothly. Colleges love seeing examples of leadership, and being the founder of a club is a great way to show that you know how to take charge and handle responsibility.
How to Start a Club in High School
Now that you know all about high school clubs and why you'd want to start your own, let's get started! Follow the steps below to start a club that is interesting, well-run, and will last a long time.
Step 1: Brainstorm Ideas
Your first step is deciding what you want your club to focus on. You may already know, but if you don’t, think about your interests and activities you enjoy doing. Chances are you can develop a club around each of them! For example, if you enjoy skiing and wish you had more opportunities to ski, you could start a ski club at your school.
If you need more ideas for potential clubs, we have a complete list of extracurricular activities, with dozens of high school club ideas.
Once you have your idea, check to make sure your school doesn’t already have a similar club. You can do this by looking at your school’s student handbook or asking your academic adviser or someone at the school office.
Step 2: Define the Club's Purpose and Goals
Once you know what you want your club to be about, it’s time to get more specific. Figure out what the purpose of the club is, what activities you want members to take part in, and what goals you have for the club.
For example, if you're starting that ski club, will the purpose of the club be organizing ski trips? Teaching members the basics of skiing? Discussing skiing gear? A combination of all three? Will meetings just be for organizing trip logistics, or will you also include lectures from ski experts or show videos of ski trips? What do you need to accomplish for the club to be considered successful? Three ski trips a year? Ten members taught the basics of skiing?
By figuring this out now, you will be able to provide a clearer and more complete vision of your club when you present the idea to the school and potential members.
Other questions to think about:
- Why do you want to start this club?
- What is the purpose of the club?
- What will club members do during meetings?
- How often will the club meet?
- Where will the club meet?
- What are the goals of this club?
- Do potential members need to try out for the club, or will anyone be allowed to join?
Step 3: Register Your Club With the School
Most high schools require clubs to go through a process to become school-approved. This may be as simple as filling out a form, or it may require discussing the club with teachers or school staff.
Without school approval, you likely won’t be able to have club meetings or post information at school, which can make it difficult to recruit members, so learn how to properly register your club and make it official. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask your academic adviser, a teacher, or someone at the school office. Your student handbook may also have information on registering clubs.
Before you register your club, make sure you have completed the previous steps so that you can answer questions about the club, why you want to create it, and what club members will be doing. After getting your club approved by the school, a teacher or staff member may be assigned as the club supervisor. If not, ask a teacher you know well or who you think will have an interest in the club to act as supervisor.
Your school may also require you to write bylaws for the club, which will explain what the purpose of the club is, how people can join the club, if and how club elections will be held, and more. If your school does require you to write bylaws, they will often give you a template to fill in to make the process easier.
Step 4: Spread the Word
Once you know what you want your club to focus on and have gotten it approved by the school, it’s time to recruit some members. If you haven’t already, figure out a time and place to hold your first meeting. You may need to get permission from your school to host the meeting in an empty classroom or another place.
Mention your club to your friends and people you think will be interested. If your school allows it, create and post flyers a week or two before the first meeting that briefly state the club’s name, purpose, and time and date of the first meeting. Try to make these flyers eye-catching and interesting to look at. For a ski club, including a color photo of a person skiing down a mountain and a heading like "Love to ski? Want to learn how? Join Jefferson High School's new ski club!" can catch students' interest and convince more people to attend the first meeting.
Fill empty seats by spreading the word and promoting your new club.
Step 5: Hold Your First Club Meeting
Don’t try to do too much at your first meeting; your goal should just be to introduce the club and answer any questions people may have. Introduce yourself, state what the club’s purpose and goals are, what members will do, and any potential ideas you have for future activities and events. Also, providing snacks is a great way to get people to love you and your new club.
To continue with the ski club example, for its first meeting you would explain the purpose of the ski club, whether that's organizing ski trips, teaching people how to ski, or another focus. Review (before the meeting!) the answers you gave to the questions in step 2 and discuss those if you're not sure what to talk about. You can then give a brief overview of what activities you'd like members to be able to participate in, such as ski lessons, weekend trips, etc., and then end by showing pictures of ski spots the club may visit to get people excited about future meetings.
After you've spoken, people who are attending the meeting a chance to introduce themselves and give their opinion on what they think the club should focus on. Have a list where potential members can write their e-mail addresses to stay informed on future club news.
At the end of the meeting, let members know where and when the next meeting will be held.
Step 6: Assign Duties and Plan Events
At one of the first few meetings, you should assign leadership roles to help keep the club running smoothly.
Common officer roles include:
- President: Leads and supervises the club with help from other officers.
- Vice President: Fills in when the president is not available.
- Secretary: Takes notes during meetings, maintains club records, keeps members updated on club news and events.
- Treasurer: Manages the club’s budget and expenses
Hold elections or nominate people to fill these positions. Once you have your club organized and a leadership structure established, start planning activities for club members. These activities can take place during club meetings or at special events outside of meetings. Potential ideas to consider include bringing in guest speakers, planning club outings, organizing fundraisers, and hosting discussions or lectures.
You probably want the first activity to be somewhat small to prevent you or other club members from getting overwhelmed with planning and to increase the probability of it being successful. For a ski club, the first activity could be a day-trip to a nearby ski slope, and, eventually, you could work up to a weekend trip to a resort a few hours away. In between ski trips, you could plan to have guest speakers come and discuss skiing, test out ski gear, and hold fundraisers to help cover expenses.
Step 7: Establish a Budget
Most clubs require some money to stay running, even if it is only a small amount to cover printing costs and snacks. Some clubs may need a much larger budget if they use a lot of materials or go on trips.
Your treasurer should develop a budget that gives a rough estimate of the expenses your club will expect to have. Things you may want to have in the budget include printing fees, food and drinks, travel expenses, gifts for guest speakers, and any materials you may need.
Schools often provide stipends to official clubs, and this may be enough to cover your expenses. If not, consider fundraisers or club dues to raise enough money to keep the club active. For a club that has a lot of expenses, such as a ski club that offers ski trips, you will probably use a combination of school stipends, fundraisers, and member dues to help cover costs.
Want to go on a ski trip? Better start saving your pennies.
Step 8: Keep Your Club Going!
Now that you have your club up and running, it’s important to make sure it lasts. Keeping your club around for the long term will ensure that more students get to enjoy it, and it will also look more impressive to colleges because it shows that you can commit to something and have the skills to keep a club running long-term.
In order to keep your club going, make sure you continue to follow the above steps and recruit new members, assign leadership roles, stick to a budget, and plan activities and events to keep your club exciting. It can also help to have a special event at the end of each year, whether that's a party, weekend trip, or important guest speaker. Doing this will give members something to look forward to and help keep people interested in the club.
Final Tips to Keep in Mind
- Starting a club is a lot of work, so make sure you have enough time to devote to it before you begin the process.
- Don’t try to do everything all at once. It’s okay to start small and have your first few meetings focus mostly on getting to know each other and brainstorming ideas. Trying to plan too many things right away can be exhausting and overwhelming.
- Encourage group members to voice their opinions, and make sure you listen to their ideas. Taking multiple viewpoints into consideration will help your members enjoy the club more and can give you great ideas for future activities.
- If there are similar clubs or organizations at your school or in your community, you may want to consider working with them. This can help spread the word about your club, help members meet new people, and give you more options for interesting activities.
Want to find out more about extracurriculars and why they're so important? Check out our guide to extracurriculars and learn how they can help you get into your dream college!
Want more ideas to help you start your club? We have a list of hundreds of extracurriculars, and you're sure to find something there that interests you!
Want to use your club to help others? Check out our guide to learn more about community service and ways to give back.
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.