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How to Start a Computer Science Club
The role of extracurriculars on the college application is growing in importance. As schools become more and more selective, competitive students need to impress admissions committees not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well. One way to accomplish this is by pursuing activities that truly fascinate you. When you pursue an activity that sparks passion, you’re bound to be engaged, motivated, and dedicated to the commitment in front of you.
If you’re a student who’s interested in computer science, a computer science club might be the ideal funnel for all your enthusiasm, and that’s a great thing. But what if your school doesn’t offer a computer science club or anything similar? What if your options are limited to other STEM fields?
Luckily, for many students starting their own computer science club could be a real possibility. In this post, we’ll outline how to start your own computer science club and why doing so is a great way to set yourself apart in both the field of computer science and in college admissions too. To learn more about starting your own computer science club, keep reading.
Why Start a Computer Science Club?
Computer science is a rapidly expanding field with great job prospects and solid earning potential. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of computer science will grow an estimated 11% by 2024 and the current average salary for a computer scientist is over $110,000 per year. Not too shabby!
If you are interested in pursuing a career in computer science, it’s never too early to start. As the profession becomes more and more attractive, it’s likely that selective computer science programs will become increasingly competitive. Starting your own computer science club will certainly give you an edge in the admissions process.
How to Get Started
Most schools have an established protocol for starting school-sanctioned clubs, so you’ll need to look into what the formal procedure for getting approved is at your school. Talk to a guidance counselor or a trusted teacher to get a better idea of what the process entails.
Also, be sure to check out our post How to Start a Club in High School.
Once you’re familiar with the process for getting a school club approved, you’ll probably need to identify a faculty adviser. This is ideally someone with some significant experience in the field of computer science and hopefully is also someone with whom you’ve worked closely in the past. This person will likely be able to help you through the application process to get your club approved.
One important consideration specific to a computer science club is access to technology in the form of computers and/or tablets. Before you get too deep into the application process, be sure to talk with your faculty adviser or even your school’s principal or vice principal about ensuring access to these important tools. Assure them that you’ll follow all school protocols with regards to using them and be mindful of enforcing these rules moving forward.
Alternatively, if starting a school club isn’t possible or seems like more of hassle than it’s worth, consider starting a club outside of school. Many community centers and libraries have resources that they’re willing to share and are happy to host respectful groups of committed students. Even if you can’t find a space with access to computers or tablets, you might still be able to hold your club there if you can secure a few laptops either donated by local businesses or brought by members of the club themselves.
Furthermore, leverage contacts to your advantage. Talk to tech-savvy peers and ask what systems and resources they are already using. There may even be computer centers or similar venues already in existence that would be happy to help you out. You never know when you’ll be surprised to find what’s been under your nose all along.
Gather Interested Students
Once you’ve gone through the formal procedure to start the club at your high school or elsewhere, you’ll need to drum up some interest in it. Consider hanging posters or flyers around your school, advertising in the school newspaper or cable channel, making announcements on your school’s PA system, and spreading the word both by mouth and via social media. Your goal should be to make sure that everyone who might be interested knows about this new, exciting club offering.
Hold a few introductory sessions during lunch or another convenient time to let students know more about the club. Be sure to be upfront with interested students about the time commitment and any associated costs there may be. Also introduce a few fun projects you hope to undertake.
What To Do in a Computer Science Club
Once your club has enough interest to begin formal meetings, you’ll need some ideas to kick off your regular meetings.
One easy way to start things off is to hold a brainstorming session during your first meeting. Try to come up with a list of challenges or problems faced by your community that might benefit from the use of computer science. Is there a senior center nearby without user-friendly email access? Are there few public transportation apps in your area that link across different services like trains, buses, and subways? Is your school website in dire need of upgrading?
Come up with a list together to help identify a worthy cause for your group. What good could you do through computer science? Set a few goals and start to discuss how your club can join forces to make them a reality.
In addition, think of fun activities to participate in throughout the year, like field trips or robotics challenges. If students in your club are interested in self-studying for the Computer Science AP exam discuss if you’ll integrate study sessions into your group or if these will be held separately.
You can also take advantage of an enormous selection of online resources. Programs like Grow With Google provide a number of different free training tools to help you grow your programming and computer skills to compete in the rapidly changing tech world.
Computer science is a broad field and there are a breadth of opportunities to further your knowledge, have fun, and give back to the community around you. Keep these goals central as you shape your club’s vision and begin moving forward.
Share What You’ve Learned
Finally, towards the end of the year find a way to share your club’s work with the school community. Whether you produce a film to highlight your projects, have a grand unveiling of a new app or website, host an open house to show others what you’ve done this year, or arrange a time to offer free introductory coding lessons, staying engaged in your community is a key component of any successful club.
If you’re a high school student considering a career in computer science, you don’t have to wait until college to start pursuing your goal. There are many ways to get involved with computer science while you’re still in high school, and starting your own computer science club is a great way to get involved. For more ideas on pursuing computer science, or if you aren’t quite sure where your path may lead, consider the benefits of the CollegeVine Near Peer Mentorship Program, which provides access to practical advice on topics from college admissions to career aspirations, all from successful college students.
For more information about extracurricular activities and careers in the STEM fields, check out these posts: