CINCINNATI -- Students across the country are tapping into their passions, thanks to a website created by two local high school seniors.
Club Academy, created by Mrinal Singh of Indian Hill High School and Aditya Singh of Mason High School, is a website designed to guide high school students in their exploration of extracurricular clubs.
Modeled after personalized learning website Khan Academy, Club Academy offers information about clubs common to most schools and a survey to determine possible clubs of interest for individuals.
“You pretty much bypass the process of getting caught up in joining things just to see what they’re like,” Mrinal said.
The idea to create the website came about as the result of struggles both he and Aditya faced in finding the extracurricular activities that matched their personalities and interests.
“Sophomore year, there was so many clubs at Mason that I wanted to do but wasn’t necessarily able to do,” said Aditya, who co-founded the Club Academy website with Mrinal.
“Coming into high school … I wasn’t exactly quite sure what to expect when it came to extracurricular activities,” Mrinal said.
Aditya and Mrinal weren’t alone. With numerous clubs to choose from and limited information about the personality types and passions they might appeal to, students often resort to learning by trial and error which clubs are best for them.
“Students were wasting a whole year doing clubs that maybe weren’t the best fit,” Aditya said.
After tossing around some possible solutions, the two friends settled on creating a website. Figuring out how best to reach and help students wasn’t the only challenge, though. Aditya had some computer science experience, but Mrinal did not.
“I think initially the biggest challenge was … I didn’t know programming,” Mrinal said.
After studying up on HTML and Java programming languages, he and Aditya were ready to create their website. Club Academy went live toward the end of their sophomore year, about a year-and-a-half ago.
With some guidance from former Khan Academy product manager Matt Wahl, Mrinal and Aditya came up with the slogan “Find your passion,” refined their website and began marketing it to schools.
“Really, our goal is to make sure everyone has an opportunity to basically understand what their interests are,” Mrinal said.
The website is now being used by students in California, Pennsylvania and Michigan, and locally in schools and districts including Mason, Indian Hill, Wyoming and Moeller.
In addition to the information about common clubs and the survey offering recommendations tailored to individuals’ interests and skills, Club Academy provides tips for starting clubs not already offered. Of the three features, which are all free of charge, the survey is Mrinal’s and Aditya’s favorite thing about the website.
“It takes into account what you’re good at, and it takes into account what you like to do, and it kind of combines them,” Aditya said.
So far, the response to Club Academy has been positive.
“The general consensus of what we’ve heard is that it’s really helpful,” Mrinal said.
The website has been particularly helpful for high school freshmen for whom it has allowed the opportunity to explore different organizations prior to attending club fairs, he said.
While things have slowed down some since last year, when the co-founders were traveling to meet with school boards near and far, they do have a couple tentative new partnerships on the horizon. They also hope to add more clubs to their website, create a social media presence and tailor Club Academy for individual school districts.
“We are working to make a more customizable plan for schools and what they offer,” Mrinal said.