In “Extracurriculars: The Extras That Count” BusinessWeek’s Francesca Di Meglio explores the role extracurriculars play in admissions decisions. (I’m quoted) A few highlights:
- To add breadth and multiple dimensions to your profile, discuss your activities outside of work.
- These activities do not have to be altruistic or exotic.
- The best reveal passion and commitment.
- Don’t be afraid to discuss unusual hobbies or activities. Their distinctiveness helps you stand out in the applicant crowd.
I also want to elaborate on a point raised in the article and respond to a question that I am frequently asked at this time of year: If you have not been consistently involved in an extra-curricular activity, should you start now — just a few months before you actually apply? Will the participation look fake or phony?
Involvement of a few months is not as effective as active participation or commitment of a few years, but it is still better than no commitment at all. It is infinitely better having non-professional activities as part of your application than turning in a one-dimensional application that is solely a collection of grades, test scores, and professional activities.
Furthermore, you may apply later than you intend. You could postpone your application or be rejected at your target schools and reapply in 2011 or later. In either case, your consistent participation in an activity that you enjoy would be seasoned, present commitment, and perhaps give you opportunity for leadership and responsibility.
So pursue your passion.