January 25, 2020
What’s harder is picking from all the exciting possible activities and finding ones that highlight your best features. It can be challenging and tempting to think that more is better, but when choosing these activities I believe quality trumps quantity. By quality I don’t mean you have to be an Olympic athlete or build homes in third world countries (although congratulations if you are or do!). I believe the best judge of quality in this case isn’t what you anticipate someone else will think, but what you think and what genuinely makes you happy.
Extracurricular And Volunteer Activities
Medical School Applications
Doing an extracurricular or volunteering isn’t about filling up your schedule just to look good. Try to be good! Medical schools want to learn about you holistically and see that you’re well-rounded, have various interests and are a respectable person. They want to know you have outlets in your life to deal with stress and have passions that’ll drive you when things get tough. They want to see that you’re committed to a cause greater than yourself, that you have empathy towards others and that you’re sincere. So, while it may be common to sign up for a long list of extracurricular and volunteer activities just for the sake of your application, I don’t believe it’s consistent with why medical schools value these types of activities. Medical schools are also very good at identifying when someone is just volunteering to look good, so I wouldn’t bother.
Factors to Consider
Showcasing Your Best Features
This may be untraditional advice, but I’ve found that it’s more important that you are passionate about what you are involved in and can explain cogently why you do it, than trying to find something bigger and better than the next person. That’s a game that’s hard to win and stressful to play. There’s always someone who volunteers more hours or involved in more clubs. What’s more enjoyable, and probably even more effective, is picking extracurricular and volunteer activities that bring you satisfaction.
Hence, this can be fun! What brings you pleasure and purpose? Are you proud of it? If yes to these questions and it fits the category of an extracurricular or volunteer activity, do that. You’re much more likely to be dedicated to it and it’s more likely to showcase your best features. If you like a sport, play it! If you’re passionate about a cause, support it! If you don’t have anything like that, consider this an opportunity to explore and discover something new. When and if you find it, commit some of your free time each week to engage in it. It doesn’t have to take up all your free time, but whatever you can manage. Overall, you’ll be happier and you’ll be better off in your med school applications. I also truly believe you’ll be better off in medical school and in your future career.
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