Clubs and students organizations are the most common ways community college students earn extracurricular experiences for their college applications. While the vast majority of community colleges are commuter schools, don’t let the lack of a vibrant campus life prevent you from gathering like minded students to explore a common interest. Engagement in campus communities can provide great opportunities to take on a leadership position and give you compelling stories to write about in your college applications.
Join An Existing Club
Every community college has a large list of pre-existing clubs you can join. Your college should have a website or list of clubs readily available for you to connect to. If not, contact your college’s student government or associated students organization to find out how you can get involved in your campus community.
Here are some of the most common student organizations you might find on your campus:
- Future Business Leaders of America – for business students
- Rotary Club – for anyone interested in leadership
- International Student’s Organization – for international students
- Math Club – for people who enjoy math
- Improv Club – for people who want to have fun
- Society of Women Engineers – for females in STEM field
- eSports club – for gamers
- Model UN – for anyone interest in international relations and politics
Note: While it’s terrific to join a campus community to get involved with other students and enjoy, take the time to explore any leadership opportunities in the clubs you’re in. Show initiative! Propose ideas on how the club can fundraise! Offer to handle the club’s marketing! Express genuine passion for the club’s activities and your interest in becoming a student leader.
Start Your Own Club
Don’t have a club that aligns with your passions and interests? Why not start your own. Here’s a quick checklist on how to get your own campus community started:
How to create a club in community college:
- Gather some friends who share similar goals or interests. These students will be your first members and board members.
- Reach out to your college’s associated students organization or inter-club council to learn more about how to start a club. Sit in on weekly inter-club council meetings to meet the leaders of other campus communities and learn about the activities other clubs participate in and challenges other students face in managing their student organizations.
- Get a faculty advisor to sponsor your club (this is the hardest part). Most colleges require a club to have a “faculty advisor” to sponsor the club and help assist in providing rooms for club meetings. The faculty advisor can be any full time faculty at your college. Start by reaching out to professors who teach subjects that align with your club’s interests. For example, a model UN club might have a political science professor as an advisor or an engineering club might have a math professor as an advisor. If professors are unavailable to sponsor your club, try reaching out to professors in your own classes whom you’ve built a relationship with!
- Finally, enroll in your college’s involvement/club fair. This is an opportunity for you to promote your campus organization and find new members!
Join Student Government
Student Government is another terrific way to get involved in your campus community. A role in student government enables you to take an active role in influencing the activities, events, and resources in your student community. In order to run for student government, make sure to stay actively engaged with the campus community. Attend associated students meetings. Attend inter-club council meetings. You will need to run for office and become elected for your student government position. Contact your college’s associated student’s organization to learn how you can get started. Common roles available within student government include:
- Vice President
- Director of Student Outreach
- Director of Publicity
- Director of Sustainability
Join An Honor Society
Your college should also have an honors society which is a club for students who maintain high academic performance throughout their community college careers. These honors societies typically feature a minimum GPA required for membership (3.0 – 3.5) and have required meetings. Honors societies provide a great forum to meet fellow students with a transfer mindset and get involved with a community who have the same goals as you. Moreover, there are some significant perks of joining an honor society:
- Honors society designation on your official transcript
- Various scholarship and grant opportunities for students who transfer
- Community of bright and link-minded individuals with the intent to transfer
- Leadership and volunteer opportunities from within the honors society
Note: The honors societies prevalent throughout the California community college system are Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) and Alpha Gamma Sigma (AGS). The honor societies at your community colleges may differ in name and scope, so be sure to contact your college’s associated student’s organization to learn more about honors societies on your campus!
Story Time - My Involvement at SMC
When I was at Santa Monica College, I had the opportunity to explore each of the recommendations listed above. I was in an awesome club for international students called International Students Forum(ISF) where I met some of my closest friends to this day. Moreover, while I was passionate about gaming and eSports I found there was no pre-existing club to align with my passion, so I started an eSports club at SMC. And during my last year at SMC, having gotten to know many of the students in my campus community, I decided to run for student government as Treasurer. When participating in any student organization, what I’ve come to realize is you shouldn’t join an organization with the intent to “just build extracurricular experiences” for your application. Keep in mind that your time in community college is still part of your college experience. Make the most of it! Meet friends, get involved, and remember that your experience in community college is what you make of it.