While business schools deeply value your academic background, work experience, and career progression, they also ascribe significant weight to your extracurricular and community service activities. Why? Because they want to see that you are an individual who is not just focused on work, that you have other passions, and that you will be an incredible asset to their next class.
Whether it be practicing sports, singing in your church’s choir, or helping at soup kitchens, community service and extracurricular activities are extremely important for you as an applicant beyond their feel-good value. What does being involved in this type of activity show b-schools and how will it help your case for an MBA acceptance?
1. It gives them a more holistic picture of you. You are not just the two-dimensional person going to work every day and taking it easy on the weekends. It shows them that you have other interests, and that you’re not afraid to take (mostly unpaid) responsibilities outside of your job.
2. It shows traits that would probably not come up on the rest of the application: your leadership, initiative, passion, and interpersonal skills. People that are used to acting to the benefit of others make for better team players, whether in the community or the corporate world. Those traits are indispensable in order to succeed at b-school and later on in your career.
3. Individuals who have a track record of community service, once they are in b-school, have no trouble getting involved in clubs, school initiatives and later, as alumni.
What If I Haven’t Volunteered?
What if you haven’t volunteered and you are planning to apply to business school this fall? Start today. You may think that adcoms will notice that the sudden rise in your extracurriculars and community service coincided with the time when you started preparing your applications, and you would be right. They’ll notice that, but they won’t hold it against you. If anything, it will help you.
As the saying goes, better late than never. A little bit of community service is better than no community service at all.
What if you don’t get admitted this time around? What if you have to re-apply? No one knows what the future holds and in spite of your hard work and dedication, there’s the chance that you will get waitlisted or, heaven forbid, denied admission. In this scenario, you would have close to 20 months of community service by the time you hit your application submit button next year, and that might make the difference the second time around.
So, go and do service. You’ll become a better applicant, and most importantly, a better person for it.
By Esmeralda Cardenal, previously the Associate Director of Admissions at Yale SOM, Director of MBA Admissions at MSU Broad, and consultant at Cardiff Business School in the UK. She is happy to help you showcase your achievements in your MBA application. Want Esmeralda to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• Leadership in Admissions, a free guide
• It’s MBA Season: Do You Know Where Your Applications Are?, a podcast episode
• What is Passion in Admissions?