Club fair booth

Student Clubs 101 – My experience with big vs. small clubs

With guidelines everchanging and U of T having dozens of different clubs out there I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about my experience with clubs. I’ve been part of a big-scale 30+ people club and small-size club with 5 people. While I’ve enjoyed my time with both clubs there’s definitely a difference in dynamic. I will preface that club size is just one factor of a club experience although an important one. If you are interested in joining a club, I hope this can give you some insight on what different clubs are like.

Big-scale clubs

Dancers in a dance studio
Pre-COVID times

I was part of a dance club for two years. It was open to people of all levels and it gave dancers a platform to experience being part of a performance team. I was excited to get into dancing and meeting other dancers gave me a sense of community. With a big group, there were people of multiple backgrounds and different dance experience. Since we were a performance-based club, there was a weekly commitment and when our performance date drew closer, the pressure was high. This was rewarding for me as I spent many months building a creative piece but if you don’t thrive in a competitive space where you work as a team then this type of club may not be right for you. And being in a big club, there are cliques; in any environment where there’s a big community, this aspect is inevitable, but it allows you to explore what kinds of people you connect with and I learned a lot from being in a big space. Most importantly, being in a large club allowed you to step out of my comfort zone. When there’s a lot of people, sometimes you just have to put yourself out there to meet others and make friends and being in a big club is the perfect space to do that.

Small-size clubs

Group server for a club meeting
Online but still thriving!

I joined a writing club a year ago and it’s been a tight-knit, relaxed space to discuss writing, talk/rant about bad books and story tropes and anything that comes to mind. It is a vastly different dynamic from the dance club in terms of community. Given the size, I got to know each member individually and when the club is so small it can be difficult for it to get clique-y. I noticed that with a smaller club I’m not as overwhelmed during meetings. I’ve struggled with social anxiety and knowing that I can focus my energy on a few people at a time rather than an abundance was reassuring and made me my voice feel more heard. A downside of a smaller club I experienced was how some meetings would get quiet because the group would be so small (sometimes there were two people!). We had people in the club who were more outgoing than others and when they were absent it was noticeable.

Finding the right club for you comes down to your own interests and personality and whether you’re ready to step out of your comfort zone or thrive in a space you know you’ll feel comfortable in. I didn’t choose these clubs based on their size, I went in and discovered that aspect. Ultimately, I’m glad I took the chance to go to try different clubs and step out of my comfort zone. Whether you’re looking for a big or small club, I encourage everybody to explore what’s out there.

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