These days having good grades and working hard is simply not enough to gain admission to medical school as extracurricular activities and medical school admissions go hand in hand. Having the right activities makes you an interesting well-rounded applicant and gives you the edge needed to gain admission.

Why extracurricular activities matter

You have great grades and letters of recommendation. Who cares about extracurriculars? The admissions committee and your interviewers, that’s who! There are many students with good grades and they have to narrow down the applicant pool somehow. Having exciting extracurriculars that show off your leadership, compassion, motivation, sportsmanship and personality can help them chose you over another student. As an added bonus if you have an incredibly interesting extracurricular it is likely your medical school interviewers will want to focus on this and hear more about it, leaving them less time to grill you on the merits of Obamacare!

What activities should I perform?

There is no right answer to this question No standard activities must be done – if there was such a list all the applicants would begin to resemble each other again removing the utility of these activities to the admissions process. instead you want to select activities that you are passionate about. You should also try and show dedication by having some activities that are lengthy and require commitment as well as leadership by seeking out leadership roles. Popular activities include scientific research, sports, students groups, and community service.

The One Required Activity

The one extracurricular activity that every student must have is some form of clinical exposure (with the notable exception of some MD-PhD applicants). Schools want to see that you know what you are getting yourself into and having these experiences will help you answer the age old interview question: “Why medicine?”

If you are looking around for an extracurricular activity, remember it’s OK to choose something you enjoy! You will be able to speak passionately about this subject and will thus have great conversations on your interviews and your enthusiasm will shine in your essays.

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