30 High School Clubs You Can Start Now
Most college applicants know that when they apply to college, their academic record and standardized test scores will be under the microscope. What many applicants don’t realize, though, is how other factors on their applications will ultimately set them apart.
Many universities in America now receive far more academically qualified applicants than they have space for. At ultra selective schools like Yale, there could be six or seven academically qualified applicants for every slot in their incoming class. So, how do admissions committees decide who makes the cut? As college admissions become increasingly competitive, extracurricular activities are becoming a more and more critical piece of the admissions process.
Many applicants get into the college of their dreams by building great extracurricular profiles. While it’s possible to do extracurricular activities completely outside of school, clubs inside the school are often important as well because they are easier to execute and show engagement with your school community.
Joining an existing club at your school is a great option, but an even more beneficial one is starting your own club. Starting and sustaining your own club in high school bears a lot more weight in the admissions process and can set you apart from the rest of the crowd. For some great tips on how to get started and what type of clubs you might establish, don’t miss this post.
Things to Remember When Starting a Club
When starting your own club in high school, you need to choose something unique from other available options. This means either establishing your own chapter of an organization that already exists at other high schools, or creating a club that is something completely different from any other club at your high school.
In any case, the club that you start should be something you’re genuinely interested in and passionate about, and hopefully something that generates that same passion in others. Ideally, the club will align with other activities on your resume, making it feel more focused and authentic, rather than simply an admissions gimmick.
To get started, you will need to navigate whatever official process is required by your school. This usually means formally appealing to your school’s administration and fulfilling certain administrative requirements. Sometimes you might need to write bylaws or file a petition. Learn your school’s regulations ahead of time so that you can be certain to follow them precisely.
Next, try to recruit a wide base of members. A legitimate club will consist of members beyond your own friend group. You should aim to have at least 10 people per meeting, which will generally mean a group of 40 or so members with sporadic involvement or a group of 10 to 15 members who are consistently committed.
In its general operations, your club should go beyond just meeting regularly. To add legitimacy (and weight to the admissions process) your club should also do things like participate in competitions, hold events, and fundraise.
Finally, your club should be sustainable enough that it will continue to run even after you’ve moved on. Find a teacher to serve as your club’s advisor. This should be someone already involved in the activity or subject area that your club specializes in. This person will be instrumental in helping to sustain the club after you’ve left campus. Ultimately the club will be your legacy to your school.
Here are 30+ examples of clubs you can start in high school along, with a brief description of each. Look through the list and see if any of these clubs would be worth starting on your high school campus.
Community Service Clubs
1. Amnesty International Club: Work to support various human rights causes in your community and around the world by establishing an official high school chapter with Amnesty International, an international human rights organization. For more information about getting involved with this grassroots organization, see Amnesty International: A Human Rights Extracurricular For High Schoolers.
2. Key Club Chapter: If your school is not already registered with Key Club, you could try and get a chapter started at your school. Key Club International is the oldest and largest service program for high school students. It is a very popular student-led organization whose goal is to encourage leadership through serving others.
3. Soup Kitchen Club: Organize volunteer opportunities for your club members by visiting a local soup kitchen. You could also hold donation drives through the club to try and help out your local soup kitchen and/or other shelters in your community.
4. Operation Smile Club: Operation Smile is an organization that provides free surgeries to children with a cleft lip. You can help up by setting up a chapter at your school that supports them. You can organize various fundraisers to donate to Operation Smile, organize a walk to raise awareness about the cause, or have networking chats with a member or someone the organization helped to see how impactful the organization is.
5. National Science Bowl: Create a team to compete in the Department of Energy’s annual National Science Bowl. This national quiz-style competition tests student knowledge in all areas of math and science. Teams are comprised of four students and an alternate, along with a faculty advisor. Competitions begin regionally and winning teams progress to the national finals, held annually in Washington, DC.
6. HOSA- Future Health Professionals: Start your own chapter of HOSA, a national career and technical student organization endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. It provides unique leadership development, motivation, and recognition for students enrolled in health science education or who have interests in pursuing careers in health professions. Membership provides access to an extensive network of curriculum and leadership conferences. You could have doctors and nurses come in and discuss their professions, volunteer as a group at a local hospital or clinic, or arrange to have members shadow doctors and nurses.
7. Conrad Challenge: Form a team to take on this annual innovation and entrepreneurial competition. The Conrad Challenge will inspire you to develop a solution to one of the world’s most complex problems in eight categories, including things like Aerospace & Aviation, Cyber-Technology & Security, Energy & Environment, and Health & Nutrition.
8. Source America Design Challenge: Create your own team to develop real-life engineering solutions that benefit people with disabilities. In Source America’s Design Challenge, you will work with a team to develop your own project submission. Finalists will be invited to an annual presentation in the DC area.
9. National Ocean Sciences Bowl: If you’re interested in a fast-paced quiz style competition featuring questions in the fields of biology, physics, geology, chemistry of the oceans, and more, the NOSB might be for you. Form a team of at least four, plus an alternate to participate in these regional and national events.
10. Envirothon: More than just a competition, Envirothon offers an involved curriculum including classes in Aquatic Ecology, Soil/Land Use, Current Events, Wildlife, and Forestry. Your team can apply the knowledge gained from these classes towards regional competitions and beyond.
11. Technovation: If you get excited about writing code and using technology to solve problems, consider starting your own team for the Technovation challenge. This challenge provides a curriculum and tasks teams with creating, building, and selling an app that solves a problem in their community.
Business/Economics Related Clubs
12. Charitable Investment Club: Gain experience investing actual money for a good cause. Have a faculty advisor or teacher manage a fund controlled by your club’s vote. Start with an initial donation or grant from your school and research trading options to make your money grow. Donate the proceeds to a local charity at the end of the year.
13. National Economics Challenge: Founded by the Council for Economic Education, the National Economics Challenge is a great choice if you want to demonstrate your academic savvy in these fields. Through a combination of critical thinking questions and a quiz-bowl round, your team will demonstrate knowledge of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International issues, and current events at competitions ranging from the state-level all the way up to the national finals.
14. The High School Fed Challenge: More interested in the policymaking side of economics? Form a team, attend a boot camp to learn more, and use the provided online resources to analyze economic conditions and recommend a course for monetary policy in the High School Fed Challenge. Sorry out-of-towners, this one is open only to students in the Federal Reserve’s Second District.
15. Blue Ocean Competition: Fans of the hit show Shark Tank will love this opportunity to pitch their most innovative business concepts to successful entrepreneurs and business-people. The Blue Ocean Competition is the largest entrepreneurship competition in the United States and provides a community of like-minded students with the chance to compete for thousands of dollars in prize money.
16. Diamond Challenge: This multilayered entrepreneurship competition features a written concept and a pitch delivered either in person or virtually. Teams work together using the Diamond Challenge curriculum and network to fine-tune their best entrepreneurial idea and then pitch it against others at competitions across the country.
17. Art Review Magazine: You could start a school-wide publication that features work from student artists at your school or features critical reviews of famous works of art. This club would be a unique blend of art and journalism.
18. Photography Club: If you’re really into photography or taking pictures, you’re probably not alone in your high school. You could create a club where people discuss famous photographs or take pictures of your school, community, and other memorable places/moments. You could even have a showcase or fundraiser during the year where the best photos from your club are featured and/or sold.
19. Art History Club: This club is all about admiring and critically analyzing famous pieces of art throughout the world and throughout history. In this club, you could have critical discussions about famous pieces of artwork, take trips to museums to see historic pieces of art in person, and even organize grand trips to famous museums where the best paintings are held (e.g. The Louvre in France). You could even put out a quarterly magazine, newsletter, or blog.
20. Sport Broadcasts: If you’re interested in video production, why not start a sports broadcast for a school sport that doesn’t receive as much attention as some of the more mainstream sports? Club members would learn about video production and editing as they produced monthly sports broadcasts for less popular sports at your school. Televise them through a local public access channel, or create your own channel on Youtube or Vimeo.
Writing and Humanities Clubs
21. Social Media Club: Start a school Instagram, Blog, or other Social Media account. Feature lighter, feel-good content to bolster community spirit and highlight all the good that happens in your community. Write features, edit content, and learn about marketing strategies during club meetings. Make sure you’re above board with the administration to make this a legitimate and valuable extracurricular.
22. Book Club: You could arrange a club where the club members read one required book a week/month and then can come together in a meeting to discuss it. You’d be amazed at the intellectual conversations and debates you can have about a theme or plot line of a novel. You could also go out into the community and promote literacy by donating books or organizing a book drive for a local library or homeless shelter.
23. Literary Magazine: Start a school literary magazine to nurture creativity and a love of both reading and writing in your school community. Meet weekly to review submissions, offer feedback, and create the magazine layout. Host short story or poetry competitions to bolster student interest.
24. Sports Blog for your School: Most schools already have a student newspaper that covers sporting events, but a sports blog would be more comprehensive and would post real-time updates as sporting events unfolded. Send reporters to travel with the team and update scores and stats as games unfold. Write and post recaps the same day as sporting events so students who can’t attend the games can get the most up-to-date information. Prepare for a career in sports journalism!
25. Spanish/French/Foreign Language Clubs: If you have been taking a language for a while and have really enjoyed it or if there is a unique language that you speak at home that isn’t represented at your school, you should consider starting a club that revolves around that language. Only speak that language in club meetings, offer tutoring in that subject to students who are trying to learn, host events that promote the local culture where that language is spoken, and even try to plan a trip out to a country that speaks that language.
Hobby and Misc Clubs
26. Chess Club: Not only could you practice and perfect your chess skills, but you could also have your club participate in local, regional, and national competitions. You could even host a competition yourselves and have weekly discussions about the best strategies. Gain even more legitimacy by participating in events sponsored by The United States Chess Federation.
27. Cooking Club: This club could be all about learning new recipes and perfecting good cooking skills. You could perhaps have everyone learn one new recipe per week, try it out at home, and then bring it to a club meeting for everyone to try and give feedback. You could also discuss best cooking techniques, plan trips to local restaurants, and watch cooking shows together.
28. Film Club:. In this club, you could watch films and then discuss them and even have the club create their own short films to submit to film festivals. For more information, see How To Start a Film Club in High School.
29. Esports League: Gamers, this one is for you. Did you know that there is an official High School Esports League? The league hosts seasonal matches, playoffs, and tournaments and even offers scholarship opportunities. Ready to get started? Use the free guide for starting your own chapter of Esports, available on their website.
30. Sports Club: Odds are your high school already has common sports teams like soccer or track, but if you’re interested in a less conventional sport, you might consider starting a new club for it. Need some inspiration to get started? Some options might include curling, cricket, badminton, or even quidditch.
Politics and Current Events Clubs
31. Young Democrats/Young Republicans/Party Affiliation Clubs: In this club, you could not only discuss political issues from the lens of a certain party’s ideology but you could mobilize to support the party’s efforts. This includes things like volunteering to help a campaign, planning a political rally, and getting signatures to garner support for a particular bill.
32. High School Political Review: A blend of politics and journalism, the politically aware students at your school could write content that comments and reports on the top political issues of the day. You could publish their work on an online website or perhaps even in the form of a print publication to be handed out at school.
33. Future Problem Solving Program International: FPSPI is more than a competition; it’s a way of thinking and can be integrated into everyday classwork across all subject areas. Connecting your school with FPSPI can provide a network of problem solving curriculum for all age groups. In addition, competitions are hosted to address problem solving at both the global and local levels.
For More Information
Hopefully you now have a better idea of what kinds of clubs you can start during high school. For more detailed help on how to start your own high school clubs, see these previous blog posts:
For more help building an extracurricular profile that will wow college admissions committees and place you above the competition, consider the benefits of the CollegeVine Near Peer Mentorship Program, which provides access to practical guidance on everything from course selection and extracurriculars, to college applications and career aspirations, all from successful college students who have been in your shoes.
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