By Jessica Lyons
If you feel like your school is missing an organization, you should speak to someone in your student activities department to find out the procedures for starting a new one. Here are some steps you might have to take and some things you should keep in mind along the way.
Create a Plan
The first thing you need to do is create a detailed plan of what the exact focus of your organization will be. Will it be a group for car enthusiasts? Or maybe a club for aspiring fashion models? Know the focus beforehand so you can specifically explain it to potential members and the school itself. You'll also want to map out the exact activities of the club, such as regular meetings, special events, field trips or fundraisers.
Find Other Interested Students
One of the most important things you'll need to do is find other students on campus who share the same interest as you and want to participate in your organization. Different schools have different requirements for how many students are needed for a club to become 'registered.' For instance, the University of Texas at Austin only mandates there be three members, whereas Berea College requires five. In either of these cases, the numbers are small enough to make it manageable to find enough people to get started.
Look for an Advisor
At most schools it's necessary for organizations to have a faculty or staff advisor. One way to try to select someone is by matching interests. If you want to start a club focused on Harry Potter and there is an English professor who uses the books in his or her classes, it could be the perfect fit. If you can't think of anyone, try approaching someone in student activities or your student government to see if they could make a recommendation.
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Get All of Your Paperwork in Order
Once you have the people in place, you have some information you need to get in order. You'll most likely need to write out a constitution for your organization that will clearly state its name, purpose and activities. You might also need to create bylaws, which could include how the officers of your group will be selected. Depending on your school, you could need to fill out and submit application forms and possibly pay a small registration fee. Then you just have to wait for official approval.
The Benefits of Being a Registered Organization
You might be wondering what the point is in going through this whole process just to become a registered organization. By being officially recognized by your school, you might be able to reserve campus space for your meetings or events, more easily publicize your organization or even get school funding for your activities.
Stick With It
Once you've gotten your approved status, it's important not to let all of your hard work go to waste. It can be a lot of work to get an organization up and running, so don't feel discouraged if it takes some time for your newly formed group to catch on. Just stick with it and your enthusiasm and dedication will surely pay off. And of course creating an organization that remains a part of your school for years to come will be very gratifying in the end.
In addition to getting involved on campus, there are several other things you can do to make the most of your college experience.