How to Start a Student Organization in College

Ginger Abbot

Apr 18, 2022
how to start a student organization in college

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Clubs are one of the greatest parts of high school. They allowed you to socialize outside of your classes and meet like-minded people. Organizations are just as appealing in college, with the added freedom that comes with being independent. Luckily, it’s easy to learn how to start a student organization in college.

Depending on how your high school organizations worked, you may follow a similar process while getting your new organization recognized at your university. You have to go through the motions of getting your organization formally recognized by your school, but you also need to do enough promoting to get people to know that it exists.

10 Steps on How to Start a Student Organization in College

Bringing your dream organization to life is as simple as following through with 10 easy steps. After reading, you’ll be fully prepared and know just how to successfully start a student organization in college. While some nuances of these steps may differ from university to university, you can be sure the overall process is the same.

1. Gauge Interest

Before you take your first step in creating your organization, you need to gauge interest. Student-run organizations are prevalent, especially in college, so you’re bound to find a few people within your friend circle who want to join an organization based on something they’re interested in.

In addition to asking your social circles, you can branch out and ask your classmates, particularly if they’re in an elective class that relates somewhat to your idea for an organization. These people are the ones you’ll come back to after the university approves your application.

2. Create a Mission Statement

This often-overlooked step can be crucial. Creating a mission statement means you need to include your core values and what makes your club original — thereby telling potential members why they should choose your organization. Take care when crafting your mission statement. Consider it the thing you and future leaders of your club will look back on to remind yourselves of the purpose of your organization and why it was established.

You can also use this time to create your organization’s constitution. Include what values you stand for and outline how processes will work in your club. You should consider looking at other organizations’ constitutions to see what they outlined and what you could include in yours.

3. Gain Potential Members

Find the people you asked about their interest in your club. Now is the time to ask them to join the organization formally as you plan on presenting it for approval. You might need to meet a certain threshold to submit your club for approval. Members are the heart of any organization. They can’t run for long without them.

How many names of interested potential members you need might vary from school to school, but you should aim for at least 10 to be safe. You might need more, but be sure to check with your university’s guidelines for student-led organizations to ensure you have the number of members necessary to legitimize your club.

4. Find a Faculty Representative

Many schools require student-led organizations to have a faculty representative. This representative doesn’t have to be at every meeting, but they can give a voice to your organization in staff-related matters and speak up for you and the other organizations they oversee. It’s always a good idea to have a faculty member vouching for you, even if it isn’t required.

5. Present Your Club

Once you have all the components to create a great organization, you’re going to present it to whoever is responsible for granting approval. In many cases, the student government association (SGA) oversees the endorsement of organizations.

Make sure you have everything you need before continuing. Ensure you have a meeting place, the recommended amount of potential members, a faculty representative, and anything else you might need before the SGA can approve your organization.

6. Fill Out the Necessary Forms

When you present your club to the SGA or other entity in charge of its approval, you may have to fill out additional forms with current member or faculty information. Make sure you fill them out to the best of your ability with accurate knowledge. These forms might be the only thing standing between you and a recognized organization.

7. Elect Officers

Once your organization has been established, it’s time to elect the people who will lead it. If you started your organization, others are likely to assume you will ascend to the position of president automatically. If you don’t want to become president, then you can have an election for that position just like the others. You should hold the election between the founding members. Allow all of them to have a say in who they’d like to see running the organization.

You can have both general and specific positions. For example, while you’ll likely have a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer, you might also elect an event manager, advertising director, or club representative who stands in for the organization at university-related events.

8. Advertise Your Organization

You can put up flyers on the multiple bulletin boards scattered around your school. You can also enlist the help of your faculty representative to announce your organization during classes they think would be interested or offer you a position to market yourself during a university-related event. You can also advertise on social media by creating an account for your organization and interacting with other accounts.

Ask if your organization can be included in a campus newsletter if they frequently feature active organizations looking for members. It’s a free way to advertise your club and will allow you to reach more people than other methods might.

9. Conduct an Officer Meeting

An officer meeting can set you on the right track for the rest of the year. It can help you figure out your goals and what you’re working towards, both in the short and long term. Your meeting needs to have a purpose. If it doesn’t have a purpose, you shouldn’t even be meeting about it because the meeting will feel directionless and pointless.

Make your goals specific and actionable. Do you want to gain 10 more members than you started with? Do you want to host a meet-up or movie night? Address your ideas and encourage others to do the same at officer meetings so you can have a better idea of where to go with your official meetings, especially the first one.

10. Hold Your First Official Meeting

First impressions are essential. Your first meeting is the opportunity to appeal to founding and potential members. You want to make it a decisive meeting, full of activities like icebreakers or explaining the club. Throw in a game or two to keep people’s attention. Make them want to come back.

If your first meeting doesn’t go well, keep your hopes up. You’re new to introducing your organization, so it might take some time to adjust to leading a group of people. You’re paving a path for the future of your organization, so take your time and do your best.

Lead Your Organization to Success

Now that you know how to start a student organization in college, you should feel prepared and energized to create the necessary elements and find people who will support you and your budding organization. While the responsibility of creating and potentially leading a club might seem daunting at first, you should realize that it’s a learning experience, and you can grow alongside your organization.

Remember, you can always change things. Student-led organizations are great because they allow you and other students to have the power in all things, giving you a taste of the responsibility you’ll have after you graduate. For now, enjoy leading a prosperous club based on something you love.

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