You’re probably looking forward to joining a club or two this semester. Whether you’re choosing all your extracurriculars based on high school interests or you’re going for completely new experiences, decide which clubs will be a good fit for you by reading a bit about specific groups before the activities fair.
Beware outdated websites
Even though the first step in any complete search should be to look at the group’s official website, also keep in mind that many clubs don’t update their pages regularly—some don’t even have a working link on the club list page. If a page shows signs of age and neglect (you know the symptoms: no posts since 2016, has a pre-2005 website layout, etc.), try to seek the information you’re looking for elsewhere. (More on that later.)
However, for the groups that do actively update their websites, you’re in luck. Club pages can be a really good way to learn general information, who’s a part of the group, what they’re looking for in a member, and their involvement and activity on campus. For example, SHARP, an a cappella group on campus, has one of its videos up on its homepage, which allows you to get a feel for its style of work. Or, (shameless plug) Spec’s recruitment website tells you everything you need to know about each of our publications and gives you a four-step guide to join.
The simple Google and social media searches
Duh. Simply typing the club’s name into Google will yield a ton of information, pictures, videos, and articles about that specific club. This tactic is especially fruitful if you’re researching a performance group. For instance, YouTube might have videos of previous performances, so you can see how a group performs, the size of the group, and the style of its work.
The Google search should also pull up all of its social media accounts, which is helpful because a lot of groups nowadays are more present on Facebook than they are on their webpages.
Pro tip: If you want to learn a bit more about the activities a group does during the school year, make sure to look into its event history on Facebook (located on the left-hand side of the screen). For example, if you go to the King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe’s Facebook page, you’ll see from the trend in their events that they generally have one show per semester, auditions each semester, and occasional fundraising events.
Deep in the Spec archives
Being a publication that strives to cover all aspects of life at Columbia, we’ve written about many of the clubs that exist on campus. For instance, if you Google “Columbia Spectator” +searched our archives for “sororities,” “Greek life,” or “rushing week,” you’ll find an article which breaks down the six Panhellenic sororities, a series which gives you a look into the rushing process (parts one and two), a feature on the rise of Greek Life at Columbia, and numerous op-eds in which students discuss the pros and cons of joining a fraternity or sorority.
Going directly to the source
If you’ve found a web or Facebook page, you’ve probably also found an email address to contact them. If you have specific questions about the group (“I was wondering what kind of events you guys do throughout the year?” “What’s the time commitment like?” “When are auditions generally held?”), use the fine motor skills you were born with to write your question into the body of an email and hit send. It’s not usually necessary to send an email to the group just to introduce yourself, but if you have a real question, the club members will just be glad that someone’s shown an interest in them. (Trust us, it’s not weird.)
If you’re too shy to email the club directly, you can always post on your class Facebook group something along the lines of, “Hey, does anyone know anything about the [insert clubs of interest] on campus?” Older students may jump in to tell you what they know about the clubs in question, but current club members are also patrolling through the groups to find as many places to plug their groups as possible.* Don’t be surprised if you see a response that starts, “Hi, I’m actually a member of club XXX…”
*Editor’s note: Can confirm, I pretty much jump on any post that I might in any way be able to relate to Spec/Spectrum/Required Reading.
Learning about Columbia’s clubs during the summer will take away some of the stress that come with hitting the activities fair in the fall. (By the way, if you want some advice on how to decide between and manage your extracurriculars as a first-year, here’s some advice.) After all, the sooner you start looking for clubs, the sooner you’ll find your fit here at Barnumbia.
- Now that you have your list of clubs to join, it’s important that you find a balance between your extracurriculars, academics, and personal time. Here’s how you can decide between and manage clubs as a first-year.
- Want some suggestions on clubs to join based on your high school interests? We’ve got some.
- Nothing creates community more than campus-wide events. Here are some of CU’s biggest.
- Have questions about clubs on campus? Perused through our FAQs yet?
- Your friends will be a large part of your social scene at Columbia—here’s how you can make some before, during and after NSOP.
Isabella Monaco is a Spectrum staff writer and Barnard sophomore. She made a list of all the clubs she wanted to join the summer before freshman year, and then never joined any of them. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.