In your four plus years of college, you'll have lots of free time. Yes, college workloads can be stressful, but this is a mixed bag. In reality, you'll find that for long periods, you'll be free to focus on things other than your studies. Most students spend just 17 hours a week studying their degrees. But this doesn't mean that those students are lazy. They're just spending their time on other important activities.
Student clubs and organizations have been a vital part of college life dating back to the medieval age. And while a lot has changed about colleges and student organizations in the last 1000 years, one thing is clear: they're incredibly useful for careers and having fun. Perhaps you want to build up your resume with more skills. Perhaps you want to show that you are engaging with your community. Perhaps you want to make friends. Perhaps you want to excel at a sport. Perhaps you've always been interested in an activity but have never had the chance to engage in it. Whatever your reason, there's a student society out there that is perfect for you!
Nowadays, colleges offer so many different clubs and organizations that it can be difficult to know where to begin. First of all, you need to work out what it is that you want to do with your extra time. Do you want to reaffirm your studies with something that gives it an extra edge? Or do you want to engage with something that allows you to escape from your degree for a few hours? Maybe you have time to join multiple societies, accommodating both wishes. There is so much possibility, but the key thing is to know what to pick and how much you can engage in without hindering your studies.
Luckily, this article has been put together to show you what the best clubs and societies in America look like. It does this by selecting the colleges in the USA that show that they are leading when it comes to extracurricular activities. And then we highlight one or two standout organizations within the colleges or the things the colleges have in place to ensure that the organizations are the best. This will give you the info you need when it comes to your college activity ideas. Perhaps you'll choose to attend one of the colleges below. Perhaps you'll choose somewhere that has comparable societies. Or perhaps you'll be inspired enough to want to start your own society if your ideal choice doesn't currently offer anything comparable.
For many, college equals freedom. This is how you can make the most of it.
Our research involves both list based articles that highlight colleges with the most and best student organizations and opinion style articles that highlight which colleges are leading with their clubs. All are from reputable sources that have vast amounts of articles online that discuss the best aspects of different colleges. We've used these as a starting point and then conducted further research.
QS/Top Universities, 7 Types of US College Student Organization: https://www.topuniversities.com/blog/7-types-us-college-student-organization
College Xpress, Colleges With the Largest Number of Registered Student Organizations: https://www.collegexpress.com/lists/list/colleges-with-the-largest-number-of-registered-student-organizations/2096/
Business Insider, The 30 most fun colleges in America: https://www.businessinsider.com/the-30-most-fun-colleges-in-america-2016-1
Campus Tales, 7 Best Student Business Clubs in the World: http://www.campustales.com/222/7-best-student-business-clubs-in-the-world
Forbes, 25 Top Colleges That Dominate Academically And Athletically: https://www.forbes.com/sites/huntersharf/2017/08/02/25-top-colleges-that-dominate-academically-and-athletically/#403a6a497c3d
College Magazine: 10 Clubs That Will Make Your Resume Flawless: https://www.collegemagazine.com/10-clubs-will-make-resume-flawless/
Overall, we've compiled the colleges mentioned in the articles above, ensured that the claims the sources state are true and sorted the colleges from 30 to one in terms of offering the best activities. Some choices favor athletics. Others favor community building or business engagement. The best engage with all areas of student life activity. Our rankings have been sorted by frequency of mentions and highest ranking places on the methodology lists, as well as by evidence of giving students a great time.
Our results are below:
30. Syracuse University
Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises Programs
Business Insider states that Syracuse University's organizations and clubs keep the students happy, particularly sports and fraternities. In fact, the college has over 60 fraternities and sororities to choose from. 30% of students overall enroll in one of these. But all organizations, athletic, Greek or otherwise compete to be recognized by the college's 44 Stars of Excellence Awards. In 2018, awards for diversity and inclusion went to representatives of the Muslim Student Association and Black Reign Step Team, and The Entertainers of the Year Awards went to Raices Dance Troupe and Black Box Players.
29. Purdue University
This college has just under 1,000 student organizations, according to College Express. The organizations are indeed unique and helpful to both society and students. For instance, for animal lovers, there's A Cause for Paws, which, in the college's city of Lafayette, assists no-kill animal shelters and convinces other shelters to become no-kill shelters. For the more business-minded student, there's 3 Day Startup, which helps students with bringing their business ideas to life fast! The club does this by connecting faculty to students every Thursday.
28. Iowa State University
Mechanical Engineering Program
This college has the ninth highest number of student organizations in the USA, according to College Xpress. And every year, Iowa State University's Student Activities Center presents awards to the best student organizations, so that incoming students know which ones are the best. 2017 recipients of awards include the Asian Pacific American Awareness Coalition, the Human Sciences Council, Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Lambda Beta and the Chinese Students & Scholars Association. The Chinese Students & Scholars Association won the outstanding event of the year, as they created an incredible Spring Festival Gala that was great at bringing the entire college community closer.
27. Cornell University
Statistical Science Degree
Cornell University is one of six colleges in the US to have 1,000 or more student organizations, according to College Xpress. Unsurprisingly, many of these organizations are highly ranked on a national scale and very interesting. One organization that really showcases this is the Mock Trial Association, which competes against other colleges in defending and prosecuting fictitious court cases. In the last tournament, Cornell managed to place fourth and ninth. This club definitely suits law related students, but the association is free for all Cornell students to join.
26. Kansas State University
Human Development and Family Science Program
This is Business Insider's fourth most fun college in America. However, it isn't mentioned on any other list. But further research proves that there are indeed many great student organizations on offer, with almost 500 clubs being officially registered on the college website. In particular, the sports clubs have some original entries. There is the Paintball Team, which has a meeting every Tuesday and Thursday, with additional weekend events sometimes happening. Also, the Shotgun Sports Club competes in intercollegiate shoots and teaches gun safety.
25. Tulane University
By being based in the famously fun city of New Orleans, Tulane University comes in at second place on Business Insider's list. And while its number of student organizations is somewhat small, at just over 200, the clubs definitely place quality over quantity. In fact, the college even ensures this high quality by allowing faculty and staff to become advisors to student organizations. Advisors give, "guidance, a historical perspective, mentorship for student leaders, and much more." The college even trains up these advisors to ensure that they are functioning as well as possible for the organization.
24. Clemson University
Language and International Trade Program
Clemson is fifth place on Business Insider's list of the most fun colleges in America. The article specifically cites the college's intramural sports as one of the main reasons why it earns this place. The college's athletics page shows that Clemson is indeed very welcoming in its sports offerings to students. In fact, Princeton Review names it the third best college where almost every student plays intramural sports. It also ranks at second for students packing the stadiums, seventh for happiest students and first for students loving their school.
23. Florida State University
English (Editing, Writing, and Media Program)
This is the first of two Florida based colleges on the list, with College Xpress noting that it has 34th highest number of student organizations of any American college. Business Insider also names it the 25th most fun college in America. It's not surprising that the Sunshine State has some colleges with incredibly active student organizations. The great weather means that FSU students can enjoy outdoor activities much more than many other college attendees. Some of the many student organizations that take advantage of the climate of Florida State University's surroundings include the Campus Recreation Club, the Cycling Club, and the Baseball Club. And if an FSU student isn't sure which club is right for them, then they can take a survey which recommends the best ones for their personality and tastes.
22. University of Connecticut
Placing at 32nd on College Xpress's list of schools with the most student organizations and 22nd on Forbes's list of schools that are great at mixing academics and athletics is the University of Connecticut. The college's campus life section of its website personally recommends a small selection of the more than 500 student organizations. One of the most original and impactful of these organizations is HuskyTHON, which raises funds for Connecticut Children's Medical Center. Its main effort is an 18-hour dance marathon that it hosts every year. In 2018, this dance marathon raised over $1 million for the hospital, and it's all thanks to the students who joined the organization!
21. University of Minnesota
Theater Arts Program
The University of Minnesota has the 19th most student organizations of any college in the US, states College Express. It's also the 21st best college for mixing academics with athletics, according to Forbes. And the University of Minnesota has really invested in making its athletic facilities world leading in recent years. For instance, its TCF Bank Stadium is one of the newest in America and has one of the largest video boards in any stadium. And the stadium isn't just for sports, it also hosts concerts and other activities. All of the college's sporting organizations and many nonsporting organizations can benefit from this space!
20. Indiana University, Bloomington
This college just about makes Forbes's list, coming in at 25th for colleges that balance academics with athletics. It is also at 16th place on College Express's list of the schools in America with the most student organizations. You may not have thought of Indiana as one of the best places for humor, but it turns out that Indiana University has six groups dedicated to comedy. Some other groups of particular interest are the Chinese Calligraphy club and the Gaming Club.
19. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Molecular and Cellular Biophysics Program
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is Forbes's seventh-best college for mixing academics with athletics. Additionally, it's College Xpress's college with the 27th most student organizations in the US, with almost 600 in total. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill certainly has one of the largest offerings of intramural sports. There are currently 50 different sports running, with some of the more unusual offerings being sit down volleyball, spikeball, pickleball, innertube water basketball, disc golf and corn hole. Two out of three undergrads participate in these sports during their study, meaning it's one of the sportiest campuses in America.
18. Vanderbilt University
Business Insider names Vanderbilt University the 14th most fun college in America. It can't be a coincidence that College Express states that the college also has the 15th most student organizations in America, standing at just over 700. Vanderbilt is located in one of America's music capitals, Nashville, so there are many, many organizations that take music to their heart. This includes groups that sing a cappella, such as Harmonic Notion, groups that sing for the elderly, such as Harmonies for the Elderly and groups that use music to help mental health, such as Blair Student Health Council.
17. Virginia Tech
This college is ranked at 11th on Business Insider's list of the most fun colleges in America and 13th on College Xpress's list of colleges with the most organizations. And Virginia Tech manages to get some great equipment for its student organizations. For example, this year, the Hang Gliding Club was given $6,550 by the Foundation for Free Flight to buy two new hang gliders. This means that for the first time in 30 years, the Hang Gliding Club can organize gliding lessons close to campus, instead of traveling hundreds of miles.
16. University of Georgia
Real Estate Program
This Athens based college makes three methodology lists. College Xpress notes that it has the 21st largest number of student organizations in America. Business Insider names it the 21st most fun college in America. And Forbes names it the 17th best college for mixing academics with athletics in America. Clearly, this is a great choice for students interested in a wide range of extracurricular activities. But while its fun and sporting organizations need no explanations, it's important to note that this college also has some great support clubs. For example, 7Cups provides emotional support for students through anonymous conversations with trained listeners.
15. University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is Business Insider's third most fun college in America. And it has the 34th highest number of student organizations, according to College Xpress. While the University of Iowa has fewer organizations than some other colleges on this list, the organizations are definitely high quality. For instance, it has the Bijou Film Board, which is one of the preeminent student cinemas in America; SCOPE, which brings concerts onto the campus; and incredible fraternities, which donated more than $800,000 to charity in 2016.
14. University of Florida
Construction Management Program
This college places on all three methodology lists that ranks institutions by numbers. It has the 12th most student organizations in America, according to College Xpress. It also is the 12th best college for mixing academics with athletics, according to Forbes. Lastly, Business Insider places it at 26th for most fun colleges in America. University of Florida's Student Activities and Involvement Department considers the best new organization at the college to be the Gators for Environmental Community Outreach (GECO.) In 2017, they awarded it the title of Outstanding New Student Organization. The group teaches grade school students about the importance of sustainability and environmentalism.
13. University of Maryland
Forbes considers the University of Maryland to be the 14th best college for mixing athletics and academics. Also, College Xpress states that the college has over 800 student organizations overall. The University of Maryland certainly has a wide range of unusual clubs. For example, there is The Makeup Society for people who would like to exchange advice in enhancing natural beauty, The Maryland Magicians for those who are keen on learning amazing tricks and The Lego User Group for children at heart.
12. University of Southern California
Film and Television Production Program
This is the third best college for mixing athletics with academics, according to Forbes. USC also has the 14th most student organizations in America, according to College Xpress. As the University of Southern California is one of the world's greatest film schools, it can be a strong idea to get involved with a cinema group, even if film isn't your major. You'll get to work with some of the best up and coming filmmakers in the world and will handle some incredible equipment. USC currently recommends the African American Cinema Society, Asian American Cinema Association, Delta Kappa Alpha, Persistence of Visionaries and other clubs for engaging with film.
11. University of Notre Dame
Forbes lists the University of Notre Dame as the 11th best college for mixing academics with athletics. And College Magazine specifically cites the school's College Mentors for Kids student group as one of the best of its kind. This organization focuses on building constructive mentoring between Notre Dame students and school children studying between first and sixth grades. Each week, the schoolchildren visit the Notre Dame campus and take part in educational and community positive activities. 74% of the children serviced are in poverty. The organization is so successful that they have been able to exceed their recent $15,000 fund-raising goal by more than $4,000.
10. Colorado State University
Aerospace Studies Program
College Xpress states that Colorado State University has over 600 student organizations. Top Universities/QS highlights that many of these organizations are some of the best of their kind. It specifically cites the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Interior Designers, the Campus Feminist Alliance, the Advertising Club, the Swing Dance Society and the Muslim Student Association as great examples of student organizations. In fact, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics is the world's largest society dedicated to aerospace. It has 30,000 members that span the entire globe (due to alumni spreading far and wide.)
9. University of Wisconsin, Madison
Political Science Program
Business Insider and Forbes agree that University of Wisconsin, Madison is a great college for mixing academics with leisure, placing the college at 16th and 15th respectively. College Xpress also notes that the school has almost 900 student organizations. These organizations include ones that focus on Democratic politics and Republican politics. Both organizations bring in prominent speakers that are focused on their political affiliation and help with gaining appropriate internship opportunities. Additionally, there are many clubs that focus on less serious subject matter, such as the card game Euchre.
8. Ohio State University, Columbus
Horse Production and Management Program
When it comes to sheer numbers, then Ohio State University's extracurricular offering is number one in America. College Xpress states that the college has 1,493 organizations overall. That means that if you're undecided on what activities you want to engage in, then OSU might be your best option. There's so much on offer that something is bound to appeal! Forbes also considers the college to have the 16th best mix of academics and athletics. Ohio State University has even developed the Student Organization Success Framework to help students make their organizations the best they can be.
7. Stanford University
Forbes states that Stanford University is the top college for mixing academics with athletics, noting that the college spent $112 million on athletics in 2017. College Xpress states that Stanford has over 600 student organizations. And the college's athletic credentials are second to none. For the last 23 years, the college has won the Directors' Cup, and for 42 consecutive years, Stanford has won an NCAA championship in at least one sport. No other college has managed to win as many championships for as many years. Overall, the college offers 36 varsity sports and 31 club sports. 900 students take part in the range of sports on offer.
6. Pennsylvania State University
Three methodology lists consider this to be a great college for student organizations. Business Insider ranks it as the eighth most fun college in America. Forbes considers it to be the 10th best college for mixing academics with athletics. And College Xpress names it the college with the 11th most student organizations in America. Some of this college's more unusual athletic offerings include bocce, dodgeball and ultimate frisbee. With all these diverse offerings, it's no surprise that Penn State is the fifth healthiest college in the United States.
5. University of California, Berkeley
Forbes names Berkeley the sixth best college for mixing academics with athletics, and the citations don't end there. QS/Top Universities uses Berkeley's five honor societies as great examples of top academic organizations. Lastly, Campus Tales cites Berkeley's consulting club as one of the seven best student business clubs in the world. It's clear that Berkeley Consulting is the business club to join if you want to be involved with the world's top businesses before you even graduate college. It's been running for over 20 years, and members have advised Fortune 500 businesses and huge nonprofits. This includes Aston Martin, Samsung, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Airbnb.
4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Special Education Program
Urbana-Champaign is over 100 miles from Chicago. This may tempt some to apply to more metropolitan colleges than the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. However, they may be missing out, as the college does a great job of ensuring its students are always engaged. Business Insider even names it the number one college for fun in America. College Xpress notes that there are over 1,000 student organizations. One of the more unique organizations at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign is the Baltic Club, which preserves and celebrates the culture, history, and traditions of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
3. University of California, Los Angeles
Film, Television and Digital Media Program
UCLA has more organizations than any other college on the entire west coast of America, according to College Xpress. It's also Forbes's second best college in America for mixing academics with athletics. And if you want to take part in the athletics on offer at UCLA, there's plenty of choices. There are 10 men's sports and 13 women's sports to choose from. These include water polo for both men and women, golf for both men and women and beach volleyball for women.
2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
This college has the second highest number of student organizations, according to College Xpress. It's also the fifth best college for mixing academics with athletics, according to Forbes. In fact, the University of Michigan has so many organizations, it's hard to focus on just a few and their achievements. On the activism side, they have Call for Humanity, which works on providing aid for people who need it the most and creates a sense of unity among different college groups to provide that aid. On the sports side, the college's rowing team has managed to earn a top 10 place in the NCAA Championships for the last five years in a row. And the college's student organization achievements are sure to carry on for many more years!
1. University of Texas at Austin
College Xpress notes that the University of Texas at Austin has the most student organizations of any college in the south. Forbes also notes that the college spends the most money in America on athletics, with the college paying out $155 million in 2017. The same Forbes article also states that the University of Texas at Austin is the fourth best college for mixing athletics with academics in America. The current intake of students who participate in sports is 500, and they're spread across 20 different programs. The sports teams are highly successful and have claimed more Big 12 Conference titles than any other college.