Starting a new club or community at college can sometimes be a challenging task or one that may end up in a game of hot potato where one person sends you to another in an unending cycle.
I’ve seen and faced this challenge with multiple members of faculty and students about starting a club or getting a proposal through at college. Seeing that you're here, I can imagine that you've been facing somewhat of the same situation when it comes to understanding how to start a club at college.
Through my experience, I found many ways to ease the process of pitching ideas to my peers and members of staff while picking up a few tips and tricks that can help others out there looking to start their own club at college. But, before you do run through the entire process yourselves, read through to explore some of the different ways you can simplify the creation process and get past the bureaucratic red tape you may face.
On-campus clubs are a great way to get to know other students and find others who share the same interests as you. It's also a great outlet for students to let out some of the stress that comes with academic life as well as build real connections that come along the way.
But as a student, I feel the main benefits are the opportunities for both personal and professional growth. Clubs always have something going on, whether that be events, meetings, trips, etc., and in each of those scenarios, students use essential skills like communication, decision making, planning, and leadership just to name a few.
Working on these skills during your student life prepares you for future careers and any other opportunities that come around.
(P.S: It looks great on your resume as well, so the more involved you are in a club, the more you learn.)
The first steps for creating any club or community at college are:
1. Defining the purpose
Finding and defining the purpose of your club will tell your college and future members what it is that the club is passionate about and will help you create an outline for the next steps to starting your student club.
2. Selecting a leadership team
A leadership team will be making all the big decisions like setting a club budget, setting up club meetings, and will lead club members, so spend a bit of time looking for the ideal candidates. Make a shortlist of the best candidates and have a one-on-one to learn and understand who shares the same views when it comes to planning out the future of the club.
3. Reaching out to a member of staff to act as an advisor/liaison
There are going to be times where certain events, activities, etc. are going to need to be approved by the college and students won't always be able to reach the higher-ups to get all the approvals, but having a member of staff to act as an advisor/liaison will simplify that process and ensure everything is completed in time. A member of staff will also act as the point of communication between the college and club.
4. Creating a proposal to present to your college
Sending a proposal to your college will be the main piece that helps your club open its doors and get moving. The main things to include in the proposal would be everything above and a few more things:
- Club Description
- How the Club Helps Students
- Proposed Events/Trips
- Club Budget
- Names of Leadership Team
5. Registering your club
When you complete the entire process, the only thing left to do would be to officially register your club and get it running.
After reading through the first steps you would need to take to start your club, the thought that's probably crossed your mind is: "It's easier to buy a new iPhone on launch day" (Trust me, it is and that's coming from a Samsung user). To help keep it quick & simple for everyone, an alternative method you can use instead of creating a proposal is creating a community for your club on Journey. Using Journey will help you save weeks of hassle and back & forth with your college. All you'd have to do is take very 5 simple steps:
1. Download the Journey app
2. Sign up
3. Select the "Add Community" option
4. Fill out the required information
5. Start sharing the invite link for your club
A process that could have taken you weeks or months in some cases will be completed in 10 minutes and you'll have your club up and running ready to go. The bonus is that with all the time that your club saved, you'll now be able to plan out the next steps, activities, and much more!
Recruiting members and growth come as a package deal and are key components to running a successful college club, these factors will help achieve all the goals & targets that have been set up.
Here are a few different ways that you can use to recruit club members and focus on growth:
1. Get a Table at the College Club Fair
This is a great way to get some foot traffic for the club and speak to potential members one-on-one, have them meet the team, and give out more information.
2. Put Up Flyers Around Campus
Posting flyers around campus will let others who pass by them know a little about your club, communicate when & where meetings are held, any trips that are coming up, etc. Even if the people passing by don't join the club right away, there is a good chance that they'll come in for a meeting to get a lay of the land or decide to join in for an event.
3. Create a Social Media Presence
Social media is the number one tool when it comes to any task in today's world and having a club profile set up will allow you to have a look at the profiles of potential members or connect with students who share the same interests as the club. As always the great thing about social media is that it isn't a "one-trick pony" because you're never just limited to scanning profiles but running adverts, promoting events, networking, and much more! Run through a few platforms and understand how you can use them to your advantage by creating out-of-the-box content.
4. Send out an E-mail
Every college has a directory that students can use to find or contact others, take advantage of it and send out an email to a list of students who you think will be interested in joining the club or those pursuing interests related to your club. Remember to keep the email short yet informative and cater to the benefits students will see by joining the club.
5. Start a Campaign
It may sound like a tedious job at first but it's pretty simple to pull off. Your campaign can be as simple as putting up stickers around campus that have the club's name, socials, and a QR code to take scanners to a joining page with more information. Printing a few stickers will be pretty friendly when it comes to your club budget and it can create a lasting image since people will be bound to notice all the stickers stuck up around different parts of campus.
It's not just limited to stickers though, there are multiples budget-friendly things you can use to start a campaign like button badges, pens, magnets, pop sockets, etc.
You can also take advantage of the new features Journey has available for colleges and students such as:
1. Having your club's community be a part of the highlighted communities
2. Guides with information about milestones, resources, habits, and challenges
3. A personalized timeline for each member showcasing their journey with the club
4. Community specific feeds to make sure that no club posts are lost in the abyss of a general feed
5. Group chats that are automatically created when a community is created
Last but not least, be sure to pull off a task I've seen most clubs lack in and that's making sure that the club stays up and running. Yes, after what you've read so far it can take a bit of effort to get a club started and sort out all the other tasks that come along, but that's not the end of the entire process.
There will be times where activities become stagnant and the club won't have much on its hand in terms of work but those are the times that you & your team will need to push the hardest at. Not everything the club does has to be an extravagant affair, it can be as simple as having a club lunch once every week or month to catch up with members, giveaways, team trips around the city, a quick catch-up over Zoom, etc.
I've seen or been a part of clubs that have had one or two big events and then let the built-up momentum die down never to be heard from again, some of these clubs didn't even have a social media presence, and for the ones that did, the posting rates varied from every other day to some having not posted for a year.
To conclude, not everything the club does has to be big as long as there's something going on for members and others to remember that the club is still active along with that make sure to have a continuous social presence so that others can see what's being happening or just to get a vibe of what the club does.
(P.S: Remember, Journey is here to help make the entire process easier and make sure that your club has its very own unique presence.)
Journey Download Links: