A Comprehensive List of High School Clubs Students Can Join or Consider Starting

04/09/202319 minute read
A Comprehensive List of High School Clubs Students Can Join or Consider Starting

Most high school students know that joining, leading, and starting clubs is a great way to make friends, do something you feel good about, explore a passion, and stretch yourself beyond your day-to-day classes.

Of course, you also probably know that club participation looks great on your college application, which means it’s worth considering the benefits different kinds of clubs offer in terms of personal growth, skill building, etc…

But time constraints, lots of classwork, or the simple challenge of having too many clubs to choose from may make it hard to get started…If you have questions like:

Is joining a club worth it? 

How do I decide what kind of club to join?

What’s more beneficial — joining a club or starting my own club?

then keep reading…

In this post we’ll help you feel more confident about choosing a club that matches your interests and college aspirations.

The Importance of High School Clubs for Students

You know high school isn't just about hitting the books, right? This is a time when you can expand your horizons and explore your passions and the world outside of school with peers who share your interests.

1. Exploring Interests and Building Character

One amazing way to do that is by diving into extracurricular activities — those fun and engaging things you do after school and to make the most of summertime as well. Let me tell you why they're not only a great chance for some group fun but also incredibly important for your personal growth and future college dreams.

First off, extracurricular activities help you grow as a person. By joining a club or starting one yourself, you're stepping out of your comfort zone, learning new skills, and meeting people who share your interests.

2. Developing Essential Life Skills

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students who get involved tend to have better time management skills and higher self-esteem. When you're part of a club, you're basically leveling up your teamwork, leadership, and communication skills without even realizing it.

3. Making an Impression on College Admissions

Now, let's talk about the college dream and getting into top colleges. Selective colleges are highly competitive, but they also value well-rounded individuals who can contribute to their campus community.

Amy Thompson, a high school counselor in New York wants students to know that  “Admission officers can see through the applicant who joins a million different clubs in their junior or senior year” so it’s important to “use your [extracurricular] activities to show colleges who you are.”

Thompson’s best advice: “don’t just join something to pad your resume. Pick something you’re genuinely interested in… and show…some level of initiative or leadership.”

That’s right, alongside your grades and test scores, colleges want to know how your values, passions, and interpersonal skills will enhance campus life.

Extracurricular activities are one key ingredient of high school success and your chance to let prospective colleges all the genuine passions, commitments, and abilities that make you special — all the personality traits that are going to elevate your personal essays!

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The Versatility of High School Club Participation

So, there’s not much debate when it comes to the benefits of club participation, club leadership, starting a club among other kinds of valuable extracurricular activities. And, if you’re motivated to learn and grow, and improve your chance for getting into a great college AND increasing your chances for succeeding in college, you’re probably already involved in a club or trying to figure out your next steps — for picking a club, joining a club, or getting more involved in club leadership.

Choosing Clubs Based on Personal Interests and Goals

But you still have to consider what kinds of clubs offer benefits that match your personal passions and your college aspirations…

Kevin's Story: Balancing STEM with Literature

Let’s imagine a student named Kevin, and let’s suppose Kevin is a sophomore interested in STEM subjects at school. Kevin really needs opportunities to escape from the rigor of his classes, so he’s looking for a club experience that’s fun and social and doesn’t involve science, but that will also elevate his college profile. Based on that, Kevin decides that joining a Literature Club, not a science club, is the way to go.

Dana's Journey: Paving the Way in Engineering

Let’s imagine another student, Dana, who is also on a STEM track. Suppose Dana has an itch for real-life tinkering and experimentation and believes that as a woman she needs to really “lean in” when it comes to forging a path in engineering, a field where women are less represented.

The only science club at the school that Dana finds interesting is an Environmental Club. But Dana wants something more hands-on and engineering focused, so after finding a supportive teacher to be the club advisor, she convinced some classmates to join together to launch the school’s first Robotics Club.

How to select a high school club right for you?

As you can see, there are lots of directions you can take when it comes to choosing a club and finding clubs with the benefits that are right for YOU…

Use the high school clubs list below for help, so you can quickly sort out what clubs are the best fit for you. The list includes popular clubs and some more unique clubs and highlights some of the unique benefits that set different kinds of clubs apart!

And, if the clubs that interest you aren’t available at your school… what then?... Don’t worry, after you check out the high school clubs list in this post, you’ll see some tips to help you decide if starting your own club is the right way to go, along with the steps you’ll need to follow to start a club.

Extracurriculars Around the World

Comprehensive List of High School Clubs and Their Benefits

Academic Clubs

Academic high school clubs

If colleges are looking for “well rounded” applicants, then are academic clubs even a good idea?

Glad you asked… Colleges actually know darn well that some of their top academic achievers are not going to be so well rounded. In other words, a diverse student body at an academic institution is going to include some students with very intense academic passions and commitments and some more well rounded students.

So, being a fanatic for an academic subject doesn’t mean you won’t be a strong candidate for college! On the contrary — it’s just that colleges want to know what your real passions are, and they’re going to also recruit some more well-rounded applicants so campus life is more diverse and balanced.

So, if you’re aiming to showcase an exceptional giftedness for a specific subject or just have an unquenchable passion for the subject, then pursuing those interests in an academic club could be a good choice.

Key Benefits of Academic Clubs

  • You demonstrate exceptional motivation for self-directed learning in a subject you’re passionate about
  • Creative activities may help you discover new insights, perspectives, or passions related to the subject you’re obsessed with
  • May involve opportunities to participate in stimulating academic competitions or project fairs — and even win awards
  • You’re turbocharging your academic credentials before applying to college

Popular Academic Clubs

  • Math Club — From study groups, to research projects, to exploring new math concepts and theories, math clubs are a great way to explore math with more freedom and creativity!
  • Science Club — Science clubs offer you an opportunity to explore the science topics you’re most passionate about, conduct experiments, organize projects addressing real-life problems and solutions, or attend or promote a science fair.
  • History Club — Dive deep into historical events and periods, organize museum visits, explore new books on topics of interest, pursue a creative project, such as a historical re-enactment of an important event.

Arts and Culture Clubs

film clubs

Clubs on the arts and culture club list cover lots of ground: visual arts, music, theater, literature, and more. Arts and culture clubs are great for anyone who wants to take advantage of extracurricular activities that offer enrichment and a platform for self-expression, creativity, and personal growth.

These clubs often allow you to make friends while participating in activities that honor individual self-expression and diverse viewpoints, talents and interests.

If you’re looking for a respite from rigorous academic classes or you just want a space to embrace and explore your individuality alongside like-minded peers, arts and culture clubs offer lots of possibilities.

Key Benefits of Arts & Culture Clubs

  • Cultivate self-awareness and cultural awareness
  • Explore expressive and creative activities you don’t experience in your regular classes
  • Discover and develop innate creative talents
  • Build confidence, self-esteem, and self-discipline from completing artistic projects or putting on performances
  • Be able to showcase holistic talents and interests when you apply to colleges

Popular Arts & Culture Clubs

  • Drama Club — Develop acting skills, escape into fictional settings and events, have a ton of fun playing different roles, try out script writing and develop creative writing abilities, practice putting yourself out there and building confidence by performing on stage, or strut your teamwork skills helping out backstage
  • Art Club — Explore various art forms, enjoy and learn from peers with diverse talents and creative interests, explore your inner creativity in the company of supportive peers, organize exhibitions or visit art museums or exhibits, volunteer as a mentor to facilitate art-related extracurricular activities for grade school kids.
  • Literature Club — Host book discussions, explore one author or literary genre, write book reviews to submit to the school paper, organize vocabulary competitions, work with school staff to invite authors to speak at school assemblies, or put on your own book talks in the school library.
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Sports and Physical Activity Clubs

Sports clubs

Sports and Physical Activity Clubs are great if you want to get in shape, stay in shape, or enjoy an extracurricular activity that lets you get physical activity after a full day of classwork.

Like athletes, these clubs come in all shapes and sizes, so you can join or start a club focused on a niche activity that you’re interested in — with lots of options, such as basketball, soccer, and track, or trying out more niche activities like rock climbing, yoga, or ultimate frisbee…

These clubs also instill qualities of resilience, perseverance, and determination, and that fact won’t be lost on admissions officers when you apply to college down the road. Who knows, your passion and commitment can also pave the way to a rewarding sports scholarship!

Key Benefits of Sports & Physical Activity Clubs

  • Get more balance in your school day with some refreshing and healthy physical activities
  • Develop new friendships with peers who have different academic interests
  • Build your teamwork skills
  • Stay healthy and fit, and build self confidence
  • Boost your college profile by demonstrating resilience, perseverance, and time management skills

Popular Sports & Physical Activity Clubs

  • Soccer Club — Learn teamwork, participate in tournaments, hone your understanding of soccer techniques, rules, and strategy.
  • Yoga Club — Focus on mental and physical well-being, seriously de-stress from school work, and explore the benefits of a healthy mind-body connection along with potential new friends.
  • Running Club — Make new friends, build amazing stamina and perseverance, push your limits and develop resilience — enduring qualities you can also apply in academics and that will help you stand out when you apply for college down the road.

Social and Community Service Clubs

Beach clean up

Social and community service clubs offer you opportunities to make a positive impact on both your immediate surroundings and the broader world.

Participating in these clubs will be a great way to extend your collaboration, communication, and leadership skills.

Social and community service clubs allow students to investigate and advocate for various social policy topics, and organize activities such as debates, community service projects, educational forums, or book discussions.

Wondering what kinds of issues and policies to put at the center of your club…? Usually, students focus on issues they feel passionate about or see as a concern in their community. Some great “causes” to consider include homelessness, climate change, public health issues, education, fighting poverty or hunger, and more.

By participating in these clubs, you’re going to cultivate a sense of empathy, compassion, and social responsibility.

Social and community service clubs can help you develop a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by different communities. And, as you wrestle with the challenges of spearheading social change with the support of other club members, you’ll discover the power you can have in helping shape a better world.

Your teamwork and collaboration efforts — as you organize events, fundraisers, and initiatives — will also nurture leadership skills, tactical communication skills, and problem-solving abilities, setting you up for success in many different future endeavors.

Additionally, these clubs give you many opportunities to enjoy belonging and connection as you collaborate with peers with similar values and aspirations.

Key Benefits of Social & Community Service Clubs

  • Practice coordination, communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills
  • Find opportunities to channel your social justice passion and empathy into action and heighten your awareness of the power you have to make the world better
  • Your experience will help you showcase great qualities when you apply to college, such as empathy, initiative-taking, social responsibility, and an ability to connect academic learning with social action

Popular Social & Community Service Clubs

  • Debate Club — Enhance your public speaking poise and confidence, learn new critical thinking skills you can apply to other subjects and later in college, and enjoy a form of competition that’s intellectually stimulating.
  • Community Service Club — Organize charity events, volunteer at local nonprofits, find fun and creative ways to raise money for worthy causes as you make friends and build community with other students.
  • Environmental Club — Promote sustainable practices, organize clean-up drives, learn practical advocacy skills — like how to advance a petition or policy, how to do community outreach to promote an event for community awareness  or to recruit new members to your club.

Some Unique Special Interest Clubs

  • Robotics Club — Dive into the world of technology, coding, and engineering. Learn about robotics or get into the thick of designing and testing robotic prototypes. Connect with other robotics enthusiasts and clubs for larger social interactions or for participating in robotics competitions.
    • Benefits include polishing your resume, especially if you plan to apply to college as an engineering major.
  • Film and Media Club — Explore the world of filmmaking, video production, or even film reviewing. Along with like-minded peers, create short films, documentaries, or even discuss and critique films to deepen your understanding of visual storytelling.
    • Benefits include cultivating a more well-rounded personality and enriching your perspectives on culture and society.
  • Model United Nations (MUN) Club — MUN clubs simulate United Nations conferences. Participants represent different countries and engage in debates and discussions on global issues. Participating is a great way to enhance lots of useful skills and personal qualities, including research, debate, negotiation, public speaking, and critical thinking skills! So you’ll be seriously burnishing your resume for college apps, while having fun with motivated peers and collecting some great memories along the way…
    • Benefits include developing and demonstrating exceptional curiosity and mature communication, critical thinking, and problem solving skills.

Starting Your Own Club: Pros and Cons

Some students think it’s essential to start their own club because it’s necessary if you want to stand out when it’s time to apply to college. But maybe your decision-making should consider the bigger picture… It makes more sense to focus on your passions, genuine community interests and needs, and the interests of peers at your school.

So before diving into the deep end when it comes to the demanding work of starting a new club, ask yourself the following:

  • Do I have the time and energy to take this on?
  • Will this kind of club have meaningful benefits for participants? For others?
  • Will it attract enough of my peers to be sustainable?
  • Will I be able to earn the support of a teacher advisor and school administrators?

Now let’s get into the real PROS and CONS of starting a club in high school…

Starting a high school club can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its share of challenges. Here are some important pros and cons to consider:

Pros of Starting a High School Club

1. Your interests are front and center: You can create a club that aligns with your interests, passions, and hobbies, allowing you to connect with like-minded peers.

2. Exceptional Leadership Training: Starting and leading a club helps develop valuable leadership skills that can be beneficial in future endeavors, including college and career opportunities.

3. Impact: Your club can make a positive impact on the school and local community through various activities, events, and initiatives.

4. Networking: You'll have the opportunity to connect with students from different grades and potentially collaborate with teachers and other staff members.

5. Resume Booster: Being involved in starting and running a club can enhance your resume and go a long way in helping you demonstrate initiative, organization, and commitment on your college apps.

Cons of Starting a High School Club

1. Time Commitment & Time Management: Managing a club can be majorly time-consuming, especially when it comes to planning meetings, events, and coordinating with members!

2. Startup Hurdles: Starting a club from scratch can be exciting, but the minutiae of paperwork, forms, charters, budgets, finding an advisor, and gaining administrative approval, can feel bureaucratic and tedious.

3. Finding Members: It might be challenging to attract and retain members, and maintaining their interest and engagement over time can be tricky.

4. Conflict Resolution: This might not be the first challenge that comes to mind, but depending on what type of club and the personal interests of those who participate, moderating conflicting interests and opinions to forge consensus among the founding club members can be difficult.

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How to Start Your Own High School Club: Six Steps to Follow 

If you decide to move forward and start a club, here’s what you’ll need to do next:

  1. Identify a niche or interest
  2. Gather a small group of like-minded fellow students to be trailblazers with you
  3. Seek approval from school administration and find a supportive club advisor (usually a teacher or other staff member)
  4. Organize a couple of initial meetings to work on and build consensus around planning and goal setting with an eye to the activities, and structures that will help make the club fun, beneficial, supportive, and rewarding for all involved
  5. Come up with a club mission statement and meeting schedule
  6. Publicize your club, and include: the name, mission, and goals, how to join, and the meeting times and location
  7. Have fun!

Once your new club is off and running, remember to create time for gathering some member feedback to guide future planning. 

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been thinking about joining a club or starting a new club, or wondering whether club activities are even worth it then we hope the list of high school clubs and our discussion of the unique benefits clubs offer will make it easier for you to take your next steps and get involved before high school passes you by…

As an extracurricular, your club activities don’t have to take up lots of time. And, for the time you do put in, you should get lasting friendships, memories, and benefits…

Finally, motivated students thinking about applying to selective schools should also remember that club participation is a great way to become more well rounded or showcase unique commitments, passions, and interests — all of which have a positive impact on your college admissions prospects and on college life as well!

Like most things, taking the next step and taking initiative get easier with practice. So now it’s your turn…

Here are some action steps you can take right now:

  • Review the list of clubs above, make your own “short list” of prospective clubs to join or start, decide what your next step is and give yourself a deadline for action!
  • Get connected with Crimson Education for more information on individualized college prep support.
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