Last Updated: December 17, 2014
by Andrea Cerny
Activities such as organizations, clubs, and volunteer work are important when it comes to college, scholarship, and job applications. Colleges, scholarship providers, and prospective employers are always looking for leadership skills among their applicants. To make yourself stand out, think about something you’re passionate about. If there isn’t already a student organization surrounding that cause or activity, consider starting your own organization!
Creating your own student organization is beneficial for you because it provides you with a way of meeting fellow students with interests similar to yours who you can work with toward a common goal. It’s also great for your school because it will allow students to become more involved on campus and they’ll be able to provide a more diverse set of extracurricular offerings to prospective students. Creating or even just participating in an organization is a great way build your resume while doing something you enjoy and are passionate about — what a sweet deal! If you’re interested in moving forward with your idea, here are the steps needed to start a student organization.
Step 1. Strategic Planning
First and foremost you will need to develop a mission and focus of your organization. There are many questions you should ask, and answer, before and during your planning to create a new organization. What are you passionate about? Why do you want to create an organization? What do you wish to achieve by creating this organization? Are there other students that share the same passion and goals? Is the organization appropriate for your college and fit into your college’s mission? Does it address any issues that the campus may be facing? Why does your organization need to be recognized by the school and how will it benefit the school? Is there an existing organization on campus that is similar to your organization’s mission and goals? The answers to these questions will be most helpful when you have to draft a proposal and constitution of the organization for your college’s approval. Familiarize yourself with the answers to all those questions, because college, administrators, advisors, and students will want to learn more about your organization before committing to it.
Step 2. Founding Members
In order to successfully start your organization, you will need support. Speak to people you believe will be interested or who can help you spread the word. Additionally, your school may require more than one member in order to establish the organization/club in the first place. Having additional founding members will also help ease your stress and tension because they can help you with the workload and preparation.
Step 3. Advising
Once you have an idea and people to support your plan and goals, you will need to speak to an advisor at your school to discuss next steps. Since different schools have different requirements, it is important to discuss with the advisors first before to see what else you’ll need to make your dream come true. Your advisor can answer most of your questions and concerns about getting your organization recognized and approved at the college.
Step 4. Paperwork
There will be quite a bit of paperwork, so be prepared to write, present, talk, and sign a whole lot. At this point, you need to sit down and draft the official documents for the organization. As the founder of the organization, you will most likely have to draft a constitution. This document should be detailed and include statements regarding the name of the organization and its meaning, what it stands for, the goal and purpose of the organization, the benefits of having the organization on campus and why the acknowledgement by the college is important, the activities the organization will participate in and any causes that the organization might be involved in, current and future plans for the organization, and how the organization can benefit the community in a bigger picture. Additional documents may be required depending on your organization.
Step 5. Congratulations!
After all your hard work, your organization is finally acknowledged by the college and is officially open to student involvement! Now it is time to establish the organization in the community of students. Utilize your marketing and public communication skills to recruit more members and encourage involvement in both the organization and the community. You can pass out flyers, hold information sessions, host activities and events to raise awareness of your organization, and participate in student-centered events and activities on and off campus to gain a better sense of community and recruit. It may be stressful and frustrating at first, but it will be well worth it when students begin to show interest and join. Remember to have fun with it. Good luck!
Still trying to figure out what you’re most passionate about? Cappex can help! Explore your interests by visiting our Colleges and Majors search tool.image credit: ferguson.ua.edu
Original Post Date: December 17th, 2014