IMSA’s never-ending list of extracurriculars will undoubtedly seem intimidating at first. Rest assured, you will likely discover your passion, meet some of your closest friends, and gain unparalleled leadership skills by participating in clubs at IMSA.
Co-curricular Activities vs. Chartered Clubs
IMSA has 15 co-curricular activities and 56 chartered clubs. Co-curricular activities are more similar to what you would see at your standard public high school. Some tend to be more faculty-run rather than student-run and many are competitive activities. Some of IMSA’s co-curriculars include Acronym, Chess Team, Mu Alpha Theta, Scholastic Bowl, Math Team, Science Olympiad, and Speech and Debate. On the other hand, chartered clubs are usually created by students (also must have a faculty advisor) and chartered by either Student Council or Peer Multicultural Educators (PME). These include culture clubs, politics/activism clubs, community service clubs, science focused clubs, and much more.
Differences between Typical High School Clubs and Clubs at IMSA
Many of us come from high schools where there are around twenty clubs, each meeting once a week to do some activity. There might be a couple board members, usually seniors, who are a little more involved with the club, but the teacher is ultimately the one running each meeting. Clubs at IMSA are very different. Most chartered clubs at IMSA are entirely student run and structured more like an organization. Club “members” are usually board members who apply for a certain position in the club. These club members meet to plan events, which often include a presentation on a certain issue relating to the club’s focus and a discussion afterward. These are called GAs and are most common. Other common activities include movie screenings, speaker events, or workshops on a topic. All IMSA students are welcome to attend these events and besides being a great learning experience, attending club events can help you decide if you want to apply for a leadership position or get more involved with that club later on. It also shows your interest in that club when it comes time to apply. Not all clubs at IMSA, even StudCo/PME chartered clubs, will follow this exact structure, but many do, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself so you’re prepared.
Every club’s board application process is a little different. The majority of clubs will initially send out a written application and then have an interview process. Some only have a written application and others will include a group process along with an application and interview. When applying for Student Council, there is additionally an election once candidates are narrowed down through these other processes.
Because of how many clubs IMSA has to offer, it can be extremely easy to over commit. There are a multitude of things you might be interested in, and it can be hard to focus on only a few. People often suggest joining no more than three clubs your sophomore year. Don’t limit yourself to that specific number, though. Make sure to assess how productive you typically are, how many classes you’re taking, and what other commitments you have when deciding how many clubs are too many for you. Everyone is different. Many people tend to be more productive when they have more things to do, but others get stressed and procrastinate more when they have several commitments. Some get involved with several activities but have only a few of them be of a higher commitment (weekly meetings, leadership roles, etc.). Others stick to one or two clubs, but are very successful and heavily involved within those activities. It’s also okay to get involved with a club at the start of the year but quit later on if things get too busy, especially if it’s a lower commitment club – advisors and students are always understanding of what you might be going through.
How to find More Information About Extracurriculars
The full list of IMSA’s co-curricular activities are listed on the website at https://www.imsa.edu/ student-life/student-engagement/co-curricular-activities/. More information about chartered clubs can be found on the Presence.io platform. Additionally, updates about club meetings, interest forms, and introductory GAs are sent regularly through email and through the IMSA Virtual Campus Facebook page. Participating in clubs can become one of your most memorable experiences during your time at IMSA, and you should definitely try to get involved with a few activities you are interested in!