If you are gearing up to go to college, you are likely focused on maintaining a good GPA and prepping for the SAT or ACT. However, those aren’t the only factors that will get you into your dream school. Getting involved in extracurriculars in high school is often just as important as academics.
One type of extracurricular that you may want to consider is joining a club. High schools usually have a variety of clubs available for students to join. Joining a club comes with many benefits and can also make your high school experience more fun and memorable. Read on to learn more about why clubs are important and how to get involved.
Benefits of Joining a Club
The list of things-to-do while in high school can seem pretty overwhelming at times, especially when you add college preparation to the mix. There are classes to stay on top of, events and parties to attend, and soon enough college applications roll around. Balancing coursework and a social life can be a struggle, but one way to combine social life with college preparation is by joining a club.
There are a lot of benefits to joining a high school club. Many colleges like to see that applicants are well-rounded, so academic success isn’t the only way to stand out among other applicants. Clubs provide colleges with insight into what a student’s interests and passions are. In addition, they help students develop time management skills and responsibility.
Learning to balance work and fun while in high school can help make it easier to maintain that balance after entering college.
Joining a club in high school can also provide an opportunity for students to relax and have some fun. Having fun is a vital piece of creating a memorable high school experience and it can help students perform better in class.
Not only is the social time enjoyable for some students, but participation in clubs can also help students develop their “soft” skills, such as effective communication and learning to work with others.
In addition to making friends, being in a club gives students the opportunity to bond with their faculty advisor, who is usually a teacher. Building a relationship with teachers during high school is important for getting quality letters of recommendation to add to those college applications.
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Common High School Clubs
The list of high school clubs that are available at each school will differ. Generally, a school will have a variety of clubs available. These can range from clubs that are academic, like a foreign language club, to clubs that are artistic, like a creative writing club, or something that’s related to a student’s hobbies, like a video games club.
Usually, high schools will also have clubs that participate in some kind of volunteer work or community service. These can be clubs that do work in the community hospitals, in meal programs for the homeless or elderly, and much more.
Some clubs are high tech, like the robotics club, and some are more old-school, like the chess club. Schools will usually have a lot of variety in the types of clubs that exist, and there may be some clubs that are unique to just your school. Since students can often start their own clubs, there isn’t one set list of clubs that will exist at every school.
Recommended: How to Get Involved on Campus in College
Starting a Club
If students don’t like the selection of clubs available at their school (why doesn’t every school have a waffle club?) then they are generally able to start their own. Starting a new club has a lot of benefits for the students who choose to put in the work to get one up and running.
There is no list of “correct” clubs to start in high school, most colleges value students who show commitment to something they care about. It’s about the quality of the activities they spend time in, not the quantity.
Seeing that a student has started a new club will show college admissions that the student has developed leadership and organizational abilities. Starting a club shows initiative, and sometimes, students who start clubs will end up in one of the leadership positions, like President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer.
Each school will have its own process for starting a club, but there are a few steps that will be the same everywhere. The first step is, of course, figuring out what the club is about. Is it going to focus on community service, something academic? Will it be focused more on fun and entertainment?
After a topic for the club is chosen, students should figure out what the purpose and goals of the club are. If the club is about chess, will students be learning how to play? Will club members be entering tournaments together? Figuring out the purpose of the club and what its goals are before members join will help limit confusion and manage everyone’s expectations.
At most schools, the club will have to get registered after its name and purpose are defined by founding members. Registering the club makes it official and once this step is complete students can actually begin enjoying their club.
What’s next? Gaining new members and planning the first club meeting. Once the club is official and ready to start, it’s time to focus on recruitment and preparing for the first meeting.
Students should choose a date, time, and location for the first meeting before recruiting, that way they have information to give interested students on when activities will be beginning.
Before the meeting, club members should know what they plan on discussing with the new recruits and how long they want the meeting to last. Usually, the first meeting is a good time to go over the club’s purpose and goals and to get contact information from the new members.
Sometime in the first few meetings, it may be a good idea to assign leadership roles for the club. These usually include President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. The way these roles function can differ from club to club, but their usual responsibilities are as follows:
• The President will lead the club and supervise meetings and activities.
• The Vice President assists the President and takes over their roles whenever the Present isn’t available.
• The Secretary takes notes during meetings and helps keep all members up to date on the club’s plans.
• The Treasurer will manage the club’s budget and keep track of expenses.
Assigning leadership roles will help keep the club running smoothly and make it easier for the club to meet its goals.
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Planning Ahead for College
It’s really never too soon to start planning, as well as saving, for college. The process of researching schools and then applying can be time-consuming, so the earlier students begin their research, the less last-minute cramming they’ll have to do.
A vital piece of planning for college is figuring out how to finance college. Most schools come with a pretty large price tag, but there are a variety of ways that students can help fund their college tuition.
To apply for federal financial aid, students will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will allow you to find out if you are eligible for different forms of financial aid, including grants, scholarship, federal student loans, and work-study. Grants and scholarships usually do not need to be repaid, whereas loans do need to be repaid.
It’s recommended that students exhaust their federal aid options before looking into private student loans. Federal loans come with certain benefits that private loans do not.
If students are not eligible for federal aid, or the financial aid they receive is not enough to meet their needs, there are other options, such as private scholarships and private student loans.
Scholarships are widely available and the eligibility criteria varies for each one. Some scholarships are need-based, while others are merit-based. Scholarships are available through schools, local communities, and corporations.
Taking out private student loans is another option for helping to fund a college education. These loans are available through private lenders, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Rates and terms vary, depending on the lender. Generally, borrowers (or cosigners) who have strong credit qualify for the lowest rates.
If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.
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