Being rejected by student clubs can be hard, as they are an important part of the college experience. While it’s OK to mourn that, there are also other ways to participate in the community. It’s important to realize that club rejection isn’t personal, and that there are many factors that go into a decision which are out of an applicant’s control. With that being said, if you’re in a situation where you are faced with rejection, you might find these tips helpful.
Validate your feelings
First and foremost, acknowledging that your feelings are valid can be calming. It’s possible that there are flaws in the club recruitment process. More people could get involved with clubs if they were able to be less selective. Validating your feelings is an essential first step of finding closure that can help you move past rejection into acceptance. What might help increase your self-confidence is remembering that they lost out on your potential contributions to the club. Whether you have been singing, dancing, or playing an instrument for three months or ten years, your skills and passions are not discredited by a club rejection.
While rejection stings, you can always re-apply next semester or next year. If it is a club that requires mastery of a certain skill like dancing, singing, or debate, use the time between now and their next recruiting cycle to hone your skills through free online classes on websites like YouTube and Coursera, and by reading articles on Medium.
However, remember that getting rejected doesn’t necessarily mean you weren’t good enough. It just means that you might not have fit the applicant profile they were looking for. As long as you are passionate, keep practicing your hobby and you’ll be able to find a community to share your passions in due time.
Invest in yourself
When one door closes, another opens. You can use your newfound free time to invest in new hobbies that you might have not explored before. If you’ve always wanted to write, run long-distance, master a certain dance style, or draw, take advantage of this time and go out of your comfort zone to learn something new. It might reward you in ways you didn’t expect!
Recall that you’re not alone
Another thought that can help with taking rejection less personally is the knowledge that other students are experiencing the same disappointment. Rejection isn’t a dead end, it’s a redirection to a better opportunity. While some clubs at Columbia and Barnard are smaller and more selective, others accept all students. These clubs foster community without an application process. A list can be found below by genre:
And if you’re still looking for additional communities to join, take a look at some of the clubs still holding events or looking for members below.
Orchesis is Columbia and Barnard’s largest student-run dance organization. It is are open to students from all dance levels and cast everyone who auditions. For the fall 2020 semester, they are holding masterclasses that allow students to teach and learn a certain genre. Apply to teach a class here!
CU Generation Workshops
Columbia University Generation is a dance group that holds workshops in different styles at least once a month. Their workshops are open to all and usually lots of fun! Find more information about it on their Instagram page.
Columbia Wushu is a Chinese martial arts club that is open to all levels of experiences and ages. It is holding open virtual practices throughout the semester and participation is a valuable opportunity to form new connections and have fun! Find more information on their website.
Anyone interested in cycling, running, or swimming can register to be a part of Columbia University’s Triathlon club for a fee. The club is currently holding weekly cycle meetings throughout the fall. If you are interested, you can find contact information on the club here.
Memento Mori Stand-Up
Memento Mori is a comedy club that encourages students from all levels of experience to try their hand at stand-up comedy. For more information, look at its Facebook page for upcoming workshops.
Third Wheel Improv
Third Wheel Improv, a student-run improv group, holds open practices every Wednesday. Improv comedy can be a way to get out of your comfort zone and share jokes in a low-stress environment. You can find more information on the club’s Facebook page.
Fruit Paunch Improv
Chowdah Sketch Comedy
If you’re more into preplanned comedy as opposed to improvisational art, sketch comedy might be it for you. Chowdah, Columbia’s oldest sketch comedy group, is holding workshops every Thursday night to introduce students to the art and history of sketch writing while giving them the opportunity to bond with the team. Want to be on Saturday Night Live? This might be your window! Find more information on it here.
Organisation of Pakistani Students
Organisation of Pakistani Students (OPS) is a South-Asian cultural group that is hosting virtual bonding events this semester. Their events are open to all students regardless of background! You can ask more about their membership on Facebook.
Columbia University Sewa
CU Sewa is a student organization that is dedicated to the Sikh concept of service. They are holding socially distanced bonding picnics, Zoom study sessions, and virtual game nights this semester that are open to all. Learn more about them and join in on the fun here!
Black Students' Organisation (BSO)
Columbia’s Black Students' Organisation is holding virtual events and freshman student mixers this semester for anyone and everyone in the Columbia community. Find out more about their events on Twitter or Facebook!
African Students Association (ASA)
The African Students Association is a community that is open to everyone. The club holds discussions on the complex political and social history of Africa, while also encouraging networking through virtual meet-ups. Fill out the interest form here.
CU Dems is a political organization that is dedicated to bringing progressive values to campus and doing grassroots work to shape the future of the Democratic Party. This semester, club members will have weekly Wednesday General Body meetings where they discuss ways to get politically involved. Learn more about its other initiatives here!
CU Republicans is an organization that promotes conservative principles. Membership is open to any student. You can find out more about its weekly meetings on their website.
Columbia EcoReps is a club that aims to build an environmentally conscious student body. Even during the pandemic, the members have virtual discussions about topics like U.S. climate policy and tips on how to recycle. You can find out more about it here.
Gosh Yarn It
A knitting club that is open to beginners? Stress-relieving? Say no more! Gosh Yarn It is Columbia’s official crochet and knitting club that encourages all skill levels to attend. The club events for this semester are posted here.
Columbia University Sign has weekly meetings on Mondays at 8 PM EST where you can learn the basics of American Sign Language and practice with your peers. The club welcomes all skill levels, and all you should bring is enthusiasm! Sign up for its mailing list here.
If you’re looking for a variety of clubs beyond this list, be sure to check out Spectrum’s article for more details here. Your potential doesn’t lie in whether you are accepted to a club or not. Clubs may reject capable candidates because of small things like their class year or even because someone else fit the profile more accurately. Club leaders are also human and hold their own biases.
In many ways, the ability to spin rejection into something positive is a skill that will be useful to a person for their entire life. We urge you to look at all the bright sides and get involved as you can with open-to-all clubs, apply again, or be a trailblazer and start your own organization. We’re rooting for every rejected candidate.
Staff writer Nandini Talwar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for book recommendations or articles that help in dealing with rejection. Follow Nandini on Twitter @nanutaps.