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As an incoming student at UC Berkeley, one of the best ways to get involved is to join a student organization! Luckily for you, there are more than 1,200 clubs at UC Berkeley, ranging from sports teams to business societies (find a full list here). Being part of a student organization is one of the best ways to step outside your comfort zone and to continue the activities you enjoy.

This informational essay was written by Kaitlin Liston, UC Berkeley ‘18. If you want to get help writing your UCB application essays from Kaitlin or other Admissions Experts, register with today.

During the beginning of both semesters, the UC Berkeley LEAD center throws a weeklong event called Calapalooza. All student organizations set up tables around Sproul Hall and the MLK Student Union. New students can chat with club members about the plan for the semester and how to join the organization. Some clubs, especially professional societies, do require you to apply. But, club members will have all that information, and it is a great way to practice your interview skills!

Grab flyers from any clubs that pique your interest and sign up for their email lists. This way you will receive all updates and events throughout the year. The Calapalooza club fair has prizes, food, music, performances—it’s one of the best events of each semester.

Melinda Young Stuart | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There are a few different types of organizations you can get involved in at UC Berkeley.

Types of Clubs at UC Berkeley

  • ASUC– The Associated Students at the University of California, UC Berkeley’s student government.
  • Berkeley Art Studio– take art classes!
  • Cal Greeks– Sororities and Fraternities at Cal
  • Rec Sports– Club Sports and Intramural Sports Teams
  • Spirit Groups– Dance Team, Cheer Team, Rally Committee
  • Choral Ensembles
  • The Daily Californian– independent, student-run newspaper of the Berkeley campus and community
  • Gender Equity Resource Center Groups– discussion groups and internships
  • LEAD Center– Campus hub for leadership, engagement, advising and development programs, including student groups, environmental resources, and more.
  • Military Groups– Army ROTC, Airforce ROTC, Navy and Marines ROTC
  • Musical Performance Groups
  • Student publications and media groups– 80+ magazines and journals
  • Volunteering- Public Service Center, Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Botanical Garden, Student Leadership, Kindergarten to College Program, Natural History Museum, UC Gill Tract Community Farm
  • Student Groups– there over 1,000 clubs run by students!

Even with this many groups, if you are unable to find the one you are looking for, you can always create one through The Associated Students at the University of California (ASUC).

Melinda Young Stuart | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

As you can see, there are many opportunities on UC Berkeley’s campus for you to get involved. I’ll dive a little deeper into student organizations and recreational sports, two categories that a majority of the student body participates in.

Recreational Sports

If you are an athlete who could have played for a Division 2 or Division 3 college sports team, there are club sports teams you can join. Club teams have weekly practices, competitive games against other schools, and uniforms.

IM Sports, on the other hand, are a great way to play a sport you love, hang out with friends, get fit, or try something new. There are three levels of play: Premier (A), Competitive (B), and Recreational (C). This ensures you are playing at a level that is fun for you. There are also men’s leagues, women’s leagues, and coed leagues so you can play with whomever you feel most comfortable.

John Kofi | Unsplash

Current IM sports at Cal include Basketball, Dodgeball, Flag Football, Futsal, Soccer, Softball, Speed Soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, and Volleyball. There are also three new Esports options: Fortnite, League of Legends, and Overwatch.

Typically, most intramural teams do not have practices, but may have an additional night for pick-up games. It’s only $25 to join for the entire semester, and there are also paid opportunities to be a referee.

Each team has one game a week during the season, totaling around eight games before the playoffs. If your team wins the IM League, you win a coveted IM t-shirt, a badge of honor on campus!

Student Groups

Joining a student group is one of the best ways to get professional and leadership experience while in college. Holding a leadership position for a student organization at a prominent university like UC Berkeley looks great for future job or graduate school applications.

Most clubs meet weekly for member-only meetings, in addition to holding events open to all students. Of course, if you decide to take a leadership or committee position in a student group, this weekly time commitment will probably increase. If you’re worried about fitting a club into your schedule, during Calapalooza club leadership will share the time commitment they expect from new members. For most organizations, there are different levels of commitment, so don’t let your schedule limit you.

Melinda Young Stuart | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Here’s a quick overview of the kinds of student clubs at UC Berkeley:

  • Hobby / Activity– Art Club, Running Club, Berkeley Ballroom Dancers, Berkeley Poetry Review, Bootleg Comedy, etc.
  • Cultural/Religious– Arab Student Association, Amigos, Asian American Association, Berkeley Christian Fellowship, Black Student Union, etc.
  • Philanthropy/Community Service: autism awareness, project peanut butter, the Berkeley project, Be The Match, etc.
  • Professional Clubs– American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Medical Student Association, Undergraduate Communications Association, Berkeley Economic Review, etc.

If you decide not to join any clubs at UC Berkeley at the very beginning of the semester, don’t fret! Not a weekday goes by without students flyering on Sproul Plaza to share more information about events and clubs on campus. (Ask any Cal student or alum about Sproul Plaza flyering and they will have a few funny stories to share.) The LEAD Center is also a great way to learn more about organizations to join throughout the year.

Steve Shupe | CC BY-NC 2.0

There is sure to be a student organization that suits you at UC Berkeley. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and get involved!

This informational essay was written by Kaitlin Liston, UC Berkeley ‘18. If you want to get help writing your UCB application essays from Kaitlin or other Admissions Experts, register with today.