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When applying to Barnumbia, it’s likely that you beefed up your Common App with a long list of clubs and activities. Now that you’re going to college, however, it’s easy to get lost in the hundreds of extracurriculars on campus, not to mention find it difficult to figure out which ones are even active. Here’s how to find which are best for you based on your favorite high school club.
If you liked Model U.N., try Roosevelt Institute
Columbia is full of smart people who truly care about political action and advocacy. While there are partisan political clubs (CU Democrats, CU College Republicans, etc.), there are also many with no party ties. Roosevelt offers the opportunity to not only participate in roundtable policy discussions, but also to attend sessions with world-renowned speakers and influential politicians.
But, of course, if you want to stick close to what you know (nothing wrong with that), Columbia does have its own Model U.N.
If you liked glee club or choir, try a cappella (such as Notes and Keys)
Columbia and Barnard have a combined total of 13 (!) a capella groups, each with its own flare. From all-male or all-female groups to those rooted in different religious or cultural traditions, there’s really a group for everybody. Notes and Keys is Columbia’s oldest a cappella group, and it has performed at a ton of pretty famous venues (Yankee Stadium, the United Nations, and Dylan’s Candy Bar, to name just a few).
Other a capella groups include:
If you liked film club, try Columbia University Film Production
CUFP is mainly focused on helping undergraduates develop and shoot their own original content. Even if you’re not super serious about producing your own film (or want to make a snazzy project for class), you can rent free filming equipment from them, and contribute to or attend their biannual film festival.
If you liked cultural clubs, try one of CU’s ethnic clubs
There are a couple dozen ethnic and race-based groups on campus, perfect for anyone who wants to embrace their heritage or wants to learn about another culture. You’ll do different things depending on the group you join, but a lot of groups put on cultural performances and have school-wide events to raise funds and awareness.
There are too many groups to list in this article, so you can see the comprehensive list of cultural clubs here. Your choices include the African Students Association, Black Students Organization, Chicanx Caucus, Liga Filipina, Chinese Students Club, and so much more.
If you liked pep squad, try Columbia University Dance Team
If you’re not really into cheerleading but still want to show your ~CU pride~, try out for the CU Dance Team. They’re not the same as cheerleaders, but they still perform at all basketball and home football games and make various appearances at other campus events. Bonus: You can get academic credits if you’re on the team.
If you liked environmental club, try CU EcoReps
The EcoReps work closely with various Columbia offices, including Housing and Dining, to promote and implement sustainable initiatives at Columbia. They organize several events per year, including Greenfest (a biannual eco-themed carnival) and the Green Sale (a second-hand sale at the beginning of the semester for student goods like refrigerators, lamps, and the like). Even if you don’t join their squad, keep an eye out for their smoothie bike in John Jay—do a bit of cycling and get a free smoothie out of it!
If you liked theater, try Columbia University Players
The CU Players is a student-run theater group. The Players produce several plays a year (their recent production of The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls was wildly popular) and accept students of all talents and abilities.
Like with a cappella, there are a ton of theater troupes on campus that specialize in different things, from musical theater to Shakespearean productions. Here’s the rest of them:
If you liked gender and sexuality advocacy clubs, try GendeRevolution
GendeRevolution is the leading trans support and advocacy group for Barnard and Columbia students. In addition to making sure that campus feels like a safe space for trans students, it works to raise awareness of the wide spectrum of gender and sexual identities represented on campus.
If you liked newspaper or literary journals, try the Columbia Daily Spectator
Columbia’s official newspaper (founded in 1877) provides news of all types—from breaking news to a literary magazine to a publication that tells you exactly how to be a student (hey, that’s Spectrum!). You don’t even have to be interested in writing to make an impact at Spec—we have something for everybody, including business, marketing, tech, graphic design, and much more. As one of the largest student organizations on campus, we’re all working toward one goal: to make a positive impact on the CU community.
When you first arrive at Columbia, you should definitely branch out and try a bunch of new things, but if there was a club you really enjoyed in high school, by all means continue it in college. With so many clubs, you’ll be sure to find something for you.
Mariella Evangelista is a Barnard first-year and a Spectrum staff writer. Her favorite clubs are those her friends dragged her to at the beginning of the year. Just saying. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.