The PremedHQ Guide


How to Choose Extracurricular Activities as a BS/MD Applicant

In choosing your extracurricular activities, there are two main aspects you should consider. One, you should choose activities that you genuinely enjoy rather than choosing extracurriculars that you think will look impressive on a college application. Two, you should focus your attention on a few activities and show dedication and continuity in those activities rather spending a little time on a whole range of different extracurriculars.


Go With What Interests You

The important first step is to choose extra curricular activities that you truly enjoy. While this may be obvious at first glance, it is key to remember because not only will being genuine in your interests help you in your interviews, but it will also help make your college essays stronger and admit you into schools and programs that more accurately match your interests. With your interviews, regardless of what you believe, interviewers can easily discern between which students have taken upon certain activities because they are passionate about them and which students have done things because they feel as though they needto do them to stand out as an applicant.

As you can probably presume, the students who stand out are the ones who have a more genuine interest in their activities regardless of what activity they are talking about. This is because interviewers are looking for passion at the end of the day, not evaluating the sophistication of the specific activity – being passionate about the work you do is a very important trait in the medical field and thus one that is looked for in many interviews.

Next, along the same lines, admission officers remember the essays that breathe the most sentiment and devotion, and students that write about activities that they truly love are the ones that have the easiest time evoking this type of emotion through their writing. Thus, it is most advisable that you choose to devote your time towards something(s) that you really enjoy because it not only makes it easier for you to explain on paper, but helps you set a more positive impression on your reader.

Finally, the whole reason that colleges have their applicants list and talk about their extracurriculars is so that they can see whether or not the applicant is an accurate fit for the school. Thereby, the more real you are about your interests, the more fitting of a school you will be accepted into and the better experience you will ultimately have.


Go For Quality Over Quantity

The other piece of advice we suggest is that you limit your activities so that you are able to spend quality amounts of time on each of them. A lot of times students fill their resume with a whole range of different activities that they did in high school hoping that their reader will be impressed by their large scope of extracurriculars.

While it is impressive to have dedicated your time to so many things, it is sometimes more impressive to instead show continuity and growth in a few activities. The benefit with spending more time towards a fewer number of activities is that you are more likely obtain something substantial out of those services and make extensive progress in them if you focus your activities.

For example, if as a freshman, lets say I was part of The Red Cross Club at my school. Everyday, I would put in a couple hours solely towards that club comprised of doing research about the community service projects we could do, looking into the types of fundraisers we could host, and figuring out the best ways to allocate our resources to make the most substantial impact on the community (just an example – variable based on the activity you are doing).

Over time, with such dedication, I would be so well-informed and educated about the club that I would feel comfortable suggesting new ways that I felt the club could branch out and expand. This would not only help me improve upon my leadership skills but it would also help the community at large due to the improved services my club would now promote. On top of that, by becoming a dedicated member of the club, I would assume that by senior year I would be able to become president of the club – an opportunity that would teach me a lot about responsibility, communication, and leadership.

That in comparison is more beneficial than minimally participating in the club and contributing to it on a surface level: I would probably not get much out of the club, nor would I be able to bring about any significant benefit. Thus, because we only have a limited quantity of time in a day, it is better to put your attention towards a few activities instead of superficially engaging yourself in a plethora of extracurriculars. Focus on a few key activities so you can make effective progress in those activities and also acquire the beneficial skills that come with it.


If you’d like to learn more about how to put these ideas into practice or how to hit the ground running, feel free to contact us and schedule a complimentary consultation today! We can help you pick the most interesting and fruitful activities, while developing leadership skills and interests in the field.