100 Best Clubs to Start in High School

July 24, 2023

One of the dreaded parts of many high school students’ college applications is the activity list. This is where you list your extracurriculars and what roles you played in them. While the personal statement, supplements, and transcript often garner the most attention, the activities list should not be overlooked. More important than the list itself, however, is what the list reveals to admissions officers about how you’ve chosen to spend your after-school hours over the past four years. One way to impress admissions officers is to start one or more high school clubs. This blog will cover 100 high school club ideas that can a) be a rewarding experience and b) help you stand out on your applications down the road.

Inevitably, every student worries that their extracurriculars aren’t enough (they are!), that they are somehow wrong (they’re not!), or that they don’t showcase the right parts of you as a candidate—that’s where we come in. If any of these fears are popping up in your head, don’t worry: you aren’t alone. But we here at College Transitions like to be proactive and get ahead of problems before they arise, which means selecting your clubs early and sticking with them.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the best clubs to start in high school, from mathletes to debate team, and answer some common questions we hear, like: How many clubs do I need to join to get into Harvard? Or, Is HOSA better than Doctors Without Borders? What about contests and competitions? As you can see, there’s a lot to cover. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

I Need How Many Extracurriculars?

Look, we get it: we all know so-and-so who did fifty extracurriculars in one semester and somehow managed to fly to the moon and make it back to school on time to ace her math test?! Our best rule of thumb is to put these stories out of your mind. You do not need one-hundred extracurriculars to get into an Ivy. We’ll say it one more time for emphasis: you do not need one-hundred extracurriculars to get into an Ivy. You don’t even need ten!

Far more important than the number of extracurriculars you take or the number of high school clubs you’re involved in is the subject of these after-school activities. Maybe you’re a theatre kid who spends all his time practicing for productions of The Music Man and Our Town. Or perhaps you’re an athlete who competes on Varsity teams and travels across the county. These activities are substantial time commitments. We know that, and colleges do, too! What’s more: delving deep into one or two passions reaps greater rewards in the end, as this often means you’re nominated for various awards and have the chance to thrive in your chosen field.

So, let us dispel the myth of the “everyman” student right now and say that the number of extracurriculars you take and the number of clubs you start in high school does not impact the schools you get into. What matters more than the quantity of your extracurriculars is their quality. As for determining which extracurricular activities to continue pursuing and which to leave at the wayside, follow your gut. Do you dread practicing violin but love attending ballet? See, your heart already knows where it longs to be!

What About Summer Programs?

We’re glad you asked! At College Transitions, we believe in maximizing your chances for success. For many students, that means not only starting a club in high school but also taking advantage of those hot summer months to brush up on math skills or attend STEM seminars. There are even game design programs for high school students!

If this isn’t something you’ve done or intend to do, don’t worry. A family trip to Italy or a few months working as a babysitter for that family next door can provide just as much enrichment as a few weeks of poring over chess problems—and may even give you a topic to write about for your personal statement.

What’s This I Keep Hearing About Community Service?

For some students, community service provides a wonderful extracurricular activity. Community service is a way to give back to the community around you and meet like-minded do-gooders in the process. While we’re inclined to think most community service projects are worthwhile, it’s also true that not all community service projects are created equal. As with our tips on joining clubs, we recommend participating in community service projects related to your interests. If you can’t find any, there are plenty of ways to get creative and reach out to organizations in need. We’ve compiled a list of 100 worthwhile community projects for you here.

Why Should I Start a Club in High School?

The best reason to start a club in high school is to fill a lack. Maybe you’re browsing the opportunities at your school and notice that there’s no a cappella club, yet you’ve always wanted to fulfill your Glee fantasy and become the next Rachel Berry. Or perhaps you love taking photographs, but there’s no photography club at your school. In this case, the best thing you can do is start your own club. If you have an interest, odds are, other students do, too! Why not take the initiative and develop a club that will benefit you and your peers? And yes, it’s true: college admissions officers like to see that you’re a go-getter who isn’t afraid to take the lead.

How Do I Start a Club in High School?

Every high school has its own rules about starting a club. We recommend consulting your high school handbook to see what is needed to do so at your school. However, many schools require some faculty involvement. When starting a club, consider which faculty member to approach to ask whether they’ll oversee your club. If you want to start an art club, maybe you approach your art teacher. Or, if you’re starting a math club, why not look in the math department? You can approach a teacher you’ve had or one you haven’t. Either way, this is an excellent opportunity to deepen your bonds with your instructors and demonstrate your commitment to acting as a force for good within your school community.

What Do I Have to Know Before Starting a Club?

Before starting a club, it’s important to remember that beginning anything requires time and dedication. When creating a club, you might have to make posters, flyers, or other forms of advertisement to get the word out about this awesome new opportunity. Additionally, you’ll have to brainstorm and research how to best structure your club. For instance, if your club is a volunteer club, you might need to reach out to organizations in advance to ask whether you can partner with them. When starting your own club, consider the organizational efforts that will be needed. You might also consider inviting your friends to help out. Clubs are always better when they’re a joint effort! This is a chance to strengthen your teamwork and collaborative abilities for the common good.

Additionally, some national clubs like HOSA require additional steps to charter a chapter at your school. To charter a chapter for such a club, contact your state advisor or the club’s headquarters to request a packet and charter number. You’ll want to contact your state advisor regarding affiliating your school with the national organization. Some of these organizations require schools to pay affiliation fees and file paperwork to participate in the annual conferences or forums. Make sure you collect membership fees well ahead of schedule.

High School Club Ideas – Follow Through

Once you’ve taken all the steps to create your club, it’s time to follow through. The best clubs are ones that have been around for a long time, so don’t get discouraged if few people show up to the first few meetings. The important thing is that you continue to pursue your passion. We recommend starting early in your high school career so that you have ample time to build up a network of members, participate in competitions, and hold fundraisers.

Clubs to Start in High School

Art Clubs

1) Art Review Magazine

2) Photography Club

3) Art History Club

4) Yearbook Club

5) Fashion/Retail Merchandising Up Cycle

6) National Art Honor Society

Drama Clubs

7) Dance Club

8) Thespians Society

9) Improv Club

10) Playwriting Club

Best High School Clubs to Start (Continued)

11) Theatre Tech Crew

12) Musical Theatre Club

13) Shakespeare Club

14) Puppetry Club

Film Clubs

15) Film Appreciation Club

16) Classic Movie Club

17) Foreign Film Club

18) Documentary Club

19) Animation Club

20) Film Production Club

Best High School Clubs to Start (Continued)

21) Movie Trivia Club

Music Clubs

22) A Cappella Club

23) Chamber Choir Club

24) Band Club

25) Music Production Club

26) Songwriting Club

27) Music Theory Club

28) DJ Club

29) Battle of the Bands Club

Science Clubs to Start in High School

30) National Science Bowl

31) HOSA – Future Health Care Professionals

32) Conrad Challenge

33) Source America Design Challenge

34) National Ocean Sciences Bowl

35) Envirothon

36) Chemistry Club

37) Computer Science/Hacking Club

28) Technovation

Math/Business Clubs

29) Charitable Investment Club

30) National Economics Challenge

Best High School Clubs to Start (Continued)

31) Stock Market Club

32) The High School Fed Challenge

33) Blue Ocean Competition

34) Diamond Challenge

35) DECA – Prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs

36) Math Club or Mathletes

Literature Club Ideas

37) Book Club

38) Literary Magazine

39) Creative Writing Club

40) Poetry Club

Best High School Clubs to Start (Continued)

41) Graphic Novel Club

42) Poetry Slam Team

History Club Ideas

43) Historical Debates Club

44) Museum Excursion Club

45) History Trivia Club

46) Cultural Exchange Club

47) Historical Reenactment Club

48) History Podcast Club

Culture Clubs

49) Foreign Language Club

50) Filipino Culture Club

Best High School Clubs to Start (Continued)

51) African Experience Club

52) Asian Culture Club

53) Latin American Culture Club

54) Middle Eastern Culture Club

55) Indigenous Peoples Club

56) International Film Club

57) World Cuisine Club

58) Global Awareness Club

59) Travel Enthusiasts Club

60) Italian Culture Club

Best High School Clubs to Start (Continued)

61) Spanish Club

Hobby Clubs

62) Anime Club

63) Chess Club

64) Cooking Club

65) ESports Club

66) DIY Club

67) Video Games Club

68) Skiing/Snowboarding Club

69) Harvesters Club

70) Skateboarding Club

Best High School Clubs to Start (Continued)

71) Religion Club

72) Hiking Club

73) Cardio Training Club

74) Adventure Club

Charity/Community Service Club Ideas

75) Breast Cancer Awareness Club

76) Key Club International

77) Operation Smile Club

78) Children’s Hospital Volunteer Club

79) Soup Kitchen Volunteer Club

80) Save the Planet Volunteer Club

Best High School Clubs to Start (Continued)

81) Fight Global Warming Club

82) Fight Against Animal Maltreatment (FAAM)

83) Best Buddies Club – Dedicated to ending the social, physical, and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

84) Relay for Life – Peer-to-peer fundraising events to find the cure for cancer

85) Science Olympiad

Political Clubs to Start in High School

86) Democrats/Republicans/Independents Club

87) Political Magazine Club

88) Students for Liberty Club

89) High School Political Review

90) Young Americans for Liberty

Best High School Clubs to Start (Continued)

91) Civic Engagement Club

92) Youth Political Action Committee

93) LGBTQ+ Rights Club

94) Social Justice Club

95) Young Voters Club

96) International Relations Club

97) Future Leaders of America

98) Debate Club

99)  Model UN

100) Pre Law Club

Best High School Clubs to Start – Concluding Thoughts 

Starting a club at your high school can be a great way to explore your passions, build essential communication skills, and connect with like-minded peers. If you’re on the fence about starting your own club, we recommend reaching out to other students at your school who have done so. While the prospect of taking the initiative and approaching faculty members to act as advisors may initially seem daunting, the process may prove quite rewarding once your club is up and running. Plus, when it comes time to put together that activity list for college, you’ll have plenty to say, from the story of your club’s founding to the challenges you faced getting it off the ground. More than that, though, starting your own club fosters teamwork, leadership, and commitment—qualities that will be keystones not only for your application but also for the rest of your life.