Do Extracurricular Activities Matter for Graduate School Applications?
Will all of your extracurricular activities (or complete lack thereof) impact your graduate school applications?
In short, it depends.
While undergraduate programs put a lot of emphasis on extracurricular involvement, largely because high school students are expected to explore their interests and demonstrate civic-mindedness, graduate schools expect applicants already have a strong idea of their career trajectory. As such, extracurricular activities do not matter much.
But there are two large caveats to this claim.
1) Some universities really prefer students who are active participants on their undergraduate campuses. Not only does this demonstrate the student’s commitment to “the greater good” but it shows that they can handle a large amount of responsibility.
2) Some extracurricular activities develop skills or offer experiences that are valuable to graduate studies. Activities such as working for a club in your field of study, learning a relevant language, or tutoring your peers could all show potential admissions faculty that you are serious about your academic and career development. The activities you include in your application should align with your future studies and future responsibilities as a graduate student and/or demonstrate important soft skills, such as leadership.
Do you want help developing your graduate school profile, including extracurricular-based skills and experiences? Reach out to us at World Awaits (WeChat: kvanderweert) to arrange a free 20 minute advisory session. The graduate school admissions process is competitive, and every year schools receive far more qualified applicants than there are spaces. You must take action to differentiate your application from the competition, and we are here to help you do just that.