How To Become President of Your High School Club
Extracurricular activities play a considerable role in college admissions and the right activity—like being president of a high school club—can help you stand out in a crowded field of applicants. Leadership shows colleges that you’re not just interested in a subject, but willing to devote your time and energy to it. Colleges also hope that you use your leadership skills on campus and beyond to make a positive impact on your community and the world.
In this post, learn how you can demonstrate your leadership skills, gather support from your peers, and lead a strong campaign for club president. Also, discover some alternatives if you aren’t elected or appointed to a president or other top leadership position or choose not to run/submit your name for consideration.
Showcase Your Leadership Skills in the Club
Your first step to becoming club president is establishing trust in your leadership among the other members of your club. Conduct yourself respectfully and maturely as soon as you join the club. Even if you think you’ll never want to be a leader in the club, take it as seriously as other members do.
As long as you’ve served as a good role model and consistently taken care to complete the work asked of you, there’s no reason for anyone not to trust you. But this trust isn’t built overnight. If you have never taken much interest in leading anything in your club, or worse, if you’ve been a poor role model, it’s going to be much more difficult to convince others that you are taking this role seriously and are genuinely capable of it.
To build on the trust you’ve established, start to take on more responsibilities within the club. Volunteer for work that needs doing and try to lead the way in that makes boring or mundane tasks interesting and fun. People will remember if you can turn a ho-hum or even a negative experience into a positive one.
Think of any boring or undesirable responsibilities of your club and turn them upside down by incorporating new or unique elements. For example, if your drama club is responsible for moving all of the chairs and tables out of the cafeteria before you can use the space to practice, crank up some music, and turn it into a dance contest. Who can do the best shimmy and shake while carrying a chair? Making a dreary task like this fun can create lasting, positive memories and foster a sense of community.
Get to Know the Other Club Members
If you’ve been in the club for a while, you probably already know many of its members. Start by reaching out to your friends in the club and let them know that you’re interested in becoming the club president. Ask for their feedback about issues that they see as important to the club. Start to compile a mental (or written) list of these things.
Once you get a little more comfortable discussing it, move past your friends to other club members who you may not know as well. Ask how they view the club, where they see areas for improvement, what they like about it, or about anything else they seem eager to discuss. Club members must know you are considering their opinions and that you value what they have to say.
Similarly, make sure you also build a strong relationship with the club’s faculty adviser. There are often outside factors that will affect your ability to make decisions or effect change, and your faculty adviser will have valuable insights about these. Sometimes, the faculty adviser has sole responsibility for appointing the club’s president, so in these cases, your relationship with this mentor becomes even more important.
Connect With Current Club Leaders
No one has a better understanding of what it takes to lead the club and how to get elected than the people already doing it. Consequently, building a rapport with the current club leaders can provide insight into the day-to-day functions of club leaders, challenges members outside of leadership may not be aware of, and election strategy. Who knows, they may even mentor you or endorse your candidacy as the next club president.
Connecting with club leaders is particularly valuable in clubs where leadership positions are appointed rather than decided by election. In these cases, demonstrating an interest in the club, understanding its management, and having cultivated a relationship with its current leaders will likely make you a strong candidate to advance into a leadership position.
Learn the Club’s Election Procedures
This is another topic you should discuss with your club’s faculty adviser since these procedures can vary widely. For example, in some clubs, you’ll need a friend or other member to formally nominate you to become eligible to run for president. Other clubs might allow you to nominate yourself, and in others, there is no formal nomination process and candidates simply announce at some point that they’re interested.
In some clubs, there is no official election process, and instead, club leadership is appointed by the faculty adviser or the current club leadership. In this case, the process for becoming the club president relies more heavily on the relationships you’ve built with these leaders and the responsibility and leadership you’ve already exhibited. There is not a ton that you can do to campaign for a position if your club does not hold elections. Instead, you’ll need to focus on building your relationship with the decision-makers and expressing your honest desire to serve the club.
Whatever the case is for your club, be sure that you know the formal procedure so that you can prepare ahead of time and not be surprised by any red tape that might exist.
If you do need a nomination to be elected president and you require someone to nominate you, make sure to specifically ask a friend in advance if they would be willing to do so for you. Prepare a quick summary of why you want to be the club president and what issues you view as most important, just in case they ask.
Write a Meaningful Speech
Many clubs will have some kind of formal campaign speech that’s delivered by presidential candidates before a vote is taken.
Take this speech very seriously. It might be the only chance that you get to address the club as a whole in the days leading up to the election. Plan carefully and practice. You will want to make sure that you sound natural and confident, rather than forced and nervous. When writing your speech, be as genuine as possible. Most people can tell when you are simply saying what you think they want to hear. Instead, speak from your heart.
Open your speech with a specific example of a time that this club helped you to learn, grow, or achieve. Then expand your example to discuss why this club is so important to you and how you view it as important to others as well.
Use the body of your speech to discuss the issues that are most important to you, and base this section on the conversations you’ve had with group members. You can even cite specific issues brought to you by group members and how you plan to address them. Detail any changes you intend to pursue and talk about why you believe you’re qualified to do this.
Conclude your speech with a vision for the club’s future. Usually, this should be consistent with the club’s current direction and mission. It should also demonstrate your ability to pinpoint areas in need of change or improvement. Make sure to thank everyone for their time and their input, and let them know that you are interested in hearing from each of them.
The speech format listed above is just one option. More important than your speech’s structure is its effectiveness in communicating your ideas clearly and honestly.
Develop an Effective Campaign Strategy
This might start before speeches or may take place afterward, depending on the timing of your election.
The purpose of your campaign is to let others know that you are running for president and briefly why you are running. You need to communicate why the club is important to you and how you hope to improve it. Aim to do so in very few words. This is where thinking of a catchy campaign slogan comes in handy.
You can advertise your campaign with posters around the school, ads in the school newspaper, or announcements during school meetings or on the school’s PA. Keep your school’s election climate in mind as you plan your strategy. If club elections are generally very low-key, don’t plaster the entire school in posters. Try not to overdo it, as this can turn people off.
Another good way to campaign is to enlist the help of friends. Ask your friends to reach out to other friends. give them a quick summary of points they can make to support your campaign. This is one case in which the power of peer pressure can be used positively.
What If You Don’t Become Club President?
If you lose, do so graciously. No one likes a poor loser and just because you have not been elected president doesn’t mean that you’re without options to become a leader in your club. If you lose with dignity and respect, you leave doors open.
Other opportunities likely exist for leadership. Instead of being the club president, you might become the treasurer or secretary. If those aren’t official roles, you can offer to take them on as a volunteer.
Alternatively, create your own unofficial leadership position. Offer to plan fundraisers or a fun, new field trip or other activity that your club has never done before.
While the position of club president looks impressive on your college applications, it’s not the end-all and be-all that some make it out to be. Other leadership roles are just as important and you may even be able to show extra initiative if you’re able to create a niche for your leadership skills where none previously existed.
How Does Being President of Your Club Impact Your College Chances?
Being club president can have a significant effect on your odds of college admissions. The four tiers of extracurricular activities provide a good guide for understanding the influence they have on your chances of getting into your dream school. Tier 1 and Tier 2 activities are reserved for the most rare and impressive extracurriculars, while more commonly seen and less attention-grabbing activities are placed in Tier 3 and Tier 4.
CollegeVine can help you better understand how colleges value your extracurricular activities and how they affect your admissions odds. Our free chancing engine uses a variety of factors, including extracurricular activities, to estimate your odds at more than 1,600 colleges across the country and can let you know if your extracurricular profile is strong enough for the schools on your list.