7 Types of US College Student Organization | Top Universities

7 Types of US College Student Organization

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manuela florea

Updated Feb 09, 2024



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If you really want to experience US college life, you should plan to make the most of your free time when you are not attending any lectures and classes. The activity-packed American student lifestyle means that finding student organizations to match your interests is not likely to be difficult.

Each US college has its own selection of organizations which are operated by current students or alumni. Their activities may be based on the major fields of study at the institution, while many societies focus on particular interests of students. Take the chance to join or form student organizations that cover your interests, and explore opportunities to network, share and develop leadership skills. The experience will widen your horizons, allow you to improve your skills, and provide valuable experience.

You can actually find a student organization for almost anything you want. Any interest or hobby you have, you will find a society active in that area. It’s best to start researching the student organizations based on your US college campus before you actually arrive. This will make it easier to choose and join the societies you like when you get there. While the range and variety of student societies on offer is vast, most fall into the following seven categories:

1. Academic and educational organizations

These are the most common types of student organizations, and you will find them at any university depending on the fields of study. It is highly recommended that you join one of these societies if you plan to learn more and build a network of likeminded people.

For instance, if you are studying business and interested in entrepreneurship, you may want to check out an organization like the Idaho Entrepreneurs Network (IEN) at the University of Idaho. This brings together students with an interest in starting or developing businesses or non-profit organizations, offering the chance to participate in programs and events that will assist in their development as entrepreneurs.

For those studying psychology, the Psi Chi & Psychology Club (Psi Chi), also at the University of Idaho, is a community that has the purpose of encouraging, stimulating and maintaining excellence in scholarship, and advancing the science of psychology.

But it’s not just social sciences that get students interested in. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics student organization at Colorado State University provides opportunities for students interested in aeronautics and astronautics, and connects them with industry. Meanwhile, if you are studying architecture, you might fancy joining the university’s branch of the American Society of Interior Designers, which describes itself as a community of people driven by a common love for design and committed to the belief that interior design is a powerful, multi-faceted profession.

A related type of student organization is the ‘honor society’. These are special societies to which you may be if you obtain outstanding academic accomplishments in a particular field. For example, Berkeley College is home to five such societies that cover the fields of business, management, legal, financial and marketing studies.

2. Community service organizations

There are many opportunities for students in the US to get involved in the community and engage in civic activities. Students for Environmental Action (SEA) at Southern New Hampshire University is a group of students interested in environmental sustainability and working together to promote sustainable practices and lifestyles.

Or maybe you fancy a joining another organization with a big dream, such as Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP) at the University of Idaho. This comprises a community of artists driven by values including self-worth, generosity and cultural awareness, who want to create more opportunities for children and community members to engage with self-expression.

If you’re keen to get involved in human rights activism through a feminist lens, you may like to hear about organizations such as the Campus Feminist Alliance (CFA) at Colorado State University.

3. Media and publication organizations

If you want to exercise your creative writing skills, you could join your university’s newspaper or magazine. For instance, Southern New Hampshire University has a student newspaper developed by passionate media students, called Penmen Press. For art students, the university offers societies like the Animation and Film Club, which helps those studying this particular field stay in touch and share knowledge.

Initiatives like the Amateur Radio Club at the University of Idaho create a fun environment for learning amateur radio, welcoming both non-licensed and licensed students. For those who wish to work in advertising, you may check out an organization like the Colorado State University Advertising Club, which has the goal of creating and presenting multimedia advertising campaigns to both real and spec clients in order to further members’ skills and advertising portfolios.

4. Political or multicultural organizations

There are many cultural and ethnic societies you can join, to network with people coming from the same background as you or sharing a similar view on the world. Many international students in the US may find themselves overwhelmed by the initial culture shock, so you may want to consider joining your US college’s International Students Association (ISA).

And if you want to interact with people from your own culture, you will be happy to find that many US colleges have numerous national and regional student societies. You will find organizations ranging from the African Student Association to the Chinese Students and Scholars Friendship Association.

5. Recreation and sports organizations

US colleges are known for their sports teams and the diverse activities students engage in. Any sport you are keen on or any hobby you might have, you will definitely find a club or organization of students who have the same passions as you.

You will find anything from the classic Club Hockey or Soccer Club at Southern New Hampshire University, which are formed by students who are passionate about these sports, meet regularly to play and organize matches, to something like the Parkour Club at the University of Idaho, a group of students who want to learn and practice parkour.

Maybe you’re into dance? Then you will be happy to know that there are many organizations formed of students who love dancing. For instance, the Swing Dance Society at Colorado State University is a group of students aim ing to re-experience the Big Band Swing Era through music, dance and history. They are involved in a number of activities both on and off campus, including a weekly swing dance. Sounds fun, right?

6. Student government organizations

If you want to get more involved and make sure you and your classmates have an input when the school’s board takes important decisions, then you may want to check out a student government society.

Each US university has its own student government or council, and they are always looking for passionate members. The University of Idaho’s Idaho Student Association is dedicated to advocating for students in Idaho by educating and empowering their members, aiming to engage students and policy makers in ensuring access to education.

At Colorado State University, you will find the Associated Students of Colorado State University (ASCSU), which is working to be the voice of students, advocating at campus, local and state levels. These are just a few examples to show the impact your involvement could have; each university has many such societies and you can choose the one that best suits your values.

7. Religious and spiritual organizations

Because US colleges are characterized by diversity and multiculturalism, there are many faith-based societies formed by students who want to keep in touch with their culture and network with others who come from the same background. This can be especially important when you are far away from home.

One example is the Muslim Student Association at Colorado State University, which is active in trying to help Muslim CSU students in all aspects of their educational, cultural, spiritual and social lives. The Adventist Christian Fellowship at the University of Idaho is a recognized student organization and its members enjoy collaborating in Bible study, outdoor activities and regular fellowship. Again, these are just some examples and you will surely find communities of students from any religion welcoming new members and trying to work for their development and education together.

As you can see, any interest or passion you might have, you will find an organization to join and a community of students with whom you can network and develop. All you need to do is know what you want.

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