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Columbia is full of variety––of libraries, dining halls, classes, things to do on the weekend, and clubs to join. According to Columbia’s undergraduate admissions website, there are over 500 student clubs and organizations. Whether you’re interested in music, theater, campus media, intramural sports, or cultural affinity groups, chances are there’s a club at Columbia that you’ll like.
We can’t talk about every single club in one article, but we can give you a brief overview of what the extracurricular scene is like at CU. (And if you want a more in-depth look at each club on campus, stay tuned—we have something in the works.)
How active is the extracurricular scene on campus?
We’d say pretty active—most students are involved in some way or another with a campus club or organization. There’s a large contingent of clubs that are very active on campus (think: regular public events on campus, large membership bodies, well-attended meetings), while others have a lower membership body and don’t hold as many events, but boast more tight-knit communities. No matter how much time you’re willing to commit or the group size you’re most comfortable with, you’ll find a club at Columbia that suits your taste!.
Is it easy to make friends with the people you meet in your clubs?
That really depends on the kind of person you are and the kind of club you join. From my experience, it can be hard to make really good friends in clubs with a large membership. However, you can get to be pretty good pals with people in your club if you become seriously involved and/or end up in a leadership position (after all, the more time you spend with a group of people, the greater the chances are that you’ll become friends). Also, keep in mind that clubs with large memberships often break up into smaller groups, giving you the opportunity to get to know a couple people more closely. (Take Spec, for instance. We’re one of the largest groups on campus, but I was still able to find my closest friends here. This is most likely because we work in smaller sections, so I became close to the people I see on a daily basis.)
How involved can I become in a club as a first-year?>
That all depends on you. If you’re in a club where you just go to a weekly meeting and do little work for it outside, then you might feel disconnected, but if you’re in a club that requires you to do more outside work (or if you happen to find yourself in a position of leadership in your first year), that group can become your home away from home.
Keep in mind though that when you attend the Activities Fair (an outdoor fair where all the active clubs come out and try to convince you to join them), you’ll probably be inclined to sign up for 40 different clubs. But as you’re adjusting to a new college lifestyle, you’ll probably attend a lot of first meetings and then realize that only one or two of them actually interest you and fit your schedule.
If there are so many options, how will I decide which club is right for me?
If you’re like me, you’ll probably do a ton of research over the semester, list out your options in a Rory Gilmore pro-con table, and then come to Columbia and realize there are several other clubs you’re interested in. The best way to narrow down your options? Attend a lot of first meetings, talk to club members to see what they like about the group, and then determine which ones you are most excited about.
You can start by perusing the club directory and looking for groups that are similar to the activities you enjoyed in high school (look out for a quiz next week that will give you some more specific suggestions). However, I cannot stress enough the importance of trying something new. Although going to college isn’t going to transform you into a shiny and clean new version of yourself, it is a good chance to experiment and figure out what your true passions are. You can only do this if you give something new a try, and what better way to do this than through a club? The best part is, if you get there and figure out you didn’t like this new thing, you can always stop going to meetings without anyone tracking you down.
But I'm a Barnard student. Can I still join Columbia clubs?
Of course! Very few clubs at both Columbia and Barnard are exclusive to just their own respective schools. (The exception for this being the student councils of course—if you're in Barnard you can't join CCSC, and vice versa.) In fact, you'll probably find at least one Barnard student (usually more) in every Columbia club, as the people in these clubs don't really care which school you're in—they just care that you're enthusiastic and passionate about their cause.
Going to college is about so much more than just your academics, so make sure you get acquainted with the different groups on campus and keep checking back for more of Spectrum’s Required Reading content. Before you know it, you’ll be on campus and attending club meetings.
Veronica Grace Taleon is Spectrum’s editor and a Barnard sophomore. She went to this weird high school with no clubs, so she felt pretty lost when she got here. Consequently, she signed up for about 30 things, 25 of which still regularly send her emails. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.