The results: HBS’s best (and worst) student clubs

With over 70 clubs on campus, the SA Clubs Committee has a lot on its plate. Last Spring, the Committee approached the Harbus with the concern that nobody actually had any idea how satisfied club members were with their clubs. So we did -wait for it- a survey. Students were asked to rate their clubs. These are the results.

Students were asked to rate the clubs they were members of across six dimensions (from 1 to 10; 10 being extremely satisfied, and 5 being netural):

  1. Dues (dues are reasonable relative to member benefits)
  2. Social (club provides opportunities to socialize with other members)
  3. Career (club provides opportunities to pursue career interests)
  4. Events (events are reasonably priced given club dues and are well organized)
  5. Communication (frequent and clear communication with members)
  6. Leadership (club leaders interact with members to gather feedback and organize events effectively)


We collected 196 responses – a reasonable rate, though it turns out that HBSers get a million surveys a week and that this one was no exception (surprise surprise right?). Nevertheless, a good 10% of the school did participate. Fifty-four clubs are represented in the results. While the sample size for any one club is small (sometimes it is only one), we thought it important that we share the results with you, especially seeing that most clubs close their membership doors this week. (See page xx for full results for each club).


Some clubs’ mission statements are to, say, provide job opportunities. But not all members might know this. Hence, some members might have felt compelled to give numerical scores for criterions that are irrelevant to their club instead of choosing the “N/A” option. Therefore, it is possible that some overall scores have been lowered by scores on criteria that should not even have been considered for certain clubs. So while the absolutes may not be completely robust, viewing the numbers relative to each other can still be very useful.


We will conduct this survey again at the end of this school year, and will work to get a larger sample of students. But until then, let’s take a look at the 5 clubs who were represented by sample sizes of 10 or more.


Is this an arbitrary cutoff? You bet. You could probably confront us with a bunch of mathematical dissertations arguing that 10 is still tiny. And you may be right. But hey, life is full of choices. So if you’re not mathematically offended, then by all means read on!


The 5 clubs we’re referring to are: The General Management & Operations Club, The Partners’ Club, The TechMedia Club, The Wine & Cuisine Society, and The Women’s Student Association. Let’s take a look at each one:


(1)  The General Management & Operations Club boasts relatively high scores across the board. With a dazzling 8.3 overall, their only visible setback is the social aspect. One comment about the latter is: “This club is very big and I didn’t feel like I got to know many people in it. It is helpful for job posting awareness but I will likely not join it next year.”


(2)   The Partners’ Club, with a 7.0 overall, is a curious case. Although scores hover around 7.0 in 5 critera, the average for the Leadership criterion is 5.3. Basically, the takeaway is that the members enjoy the club’s benefits but still think that the leaders could be doing more.


(3)   The TechMedia Club has an impressive 7.9 overall. Just like the GM&O Club however, it falls short on the social side. However, it seems like although social received a low score there was no expectation by the club’s members for the club to deliver on that aspect. Most comments praised the club’s career-opportunity-creating abilities: “Great club, the dues were worth it just for the jobs in the newsletters.”


(4)   The Wine & Cuisine Society, with the highest sample size (25), received the lowest overall score among the highly-responded clubs: 5.2. Their overall, though, is not a result of receiving scores close to 5 across all criterions; rather it represents clashing extremes. While enjoying enviable ratings on social and communication, the club is rated poorly when it comes to dues, career, events and leadership. All 14 comments received about the Wine & Cuisine Society complain about dues. One of the respondents writes: “Way too expensive, given how much all the events cost afterward. I decided not to renew my membership because I wasn’t getting enough out of this club.”


(5)   The Women’s Student Association, with a 7.6, received results that show enviable logistical prowess (high scores in dues, events and communication), but also possible room for improvement when it comes to social and leadership. A particularly holistic comment was: “The club is very active, has valuable programs, and shares interesting articles. Love the RC review sessions and recent manbassador program. It should make more of an effort to solicit feedback. Some of the events were too focused on finance and industries not ‘traditionally’ accepting of women. Need balanced focus. RC/EC buddy program not well organized – I asked to be an EC buddy but was never contacted again or invited to any of the events. Overall, though, the club is doing a great job.”

And what better way to string all of these numbers together than to look at the generic scores for all clubs (bottom row)? We’ll call that final line item “The HBS Clubs Landscape” (HCL).


With an overall score of 6.8, HCL is, we can say, satisfactory. Not particularly good, but not bad. While most criterion scores for HCL were more or less close to this 6.8 number, we found it very interesting that the highest score (7.4) went to communication -defined in the survey as “frequent and clear communication with members”.


And so we’ll leave you to consider these 2 questions: Is it possible that we’ve generally become just a bit too adept at sending emails to listservs and distributing flyers in classrooms? Might we be unconsciously putting our PR and outreach efforts ahead of other things that deserve just as much of our attention?


SA Clubs Committee disclaimers:

1) Sample size for many clubs is very small.

2) Oftentimes members who reply are the members who feel most strongly about certain club issues.

3) This survey is a reflection of members’ experience over the past year and that it is not a reflection of what the club will be like going forward.

4) No feedback was solicited for “Community Benefits” or any similar category. This is an integral part of many clubs and should be considered by any potential or current member.