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What is the impact of not volunteering on an application?

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Joined: 31 Dec 1969
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What is the impact of not volunteering on an application? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2011, 06:36
I am curious what the impact would be on my application if I said I have not done any volunteer work. In my particular case, I work 1-9 (which might as well be 12-10) at a hospital. That prohibits volunteering during the weekday. And after a week of high stress environment, I like the peace and solitude of the weekend.
To be honest with myself, I would volunteer on the weekend if that was the difference between getting into the MBA school or not, but I would prefer to enjoy the weekend with my dog.
How does the average application committee feel about this?
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Re: What is the impact of not volunteering on an application? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2011, 06:54
Conventional wisdom would say that it is not the "volunteering" that is important, rather it is:

1. Showing the drive and ambition to get involved in something that interests you
2. Having the leadership ability to make an impact in that activity
3. Having that interest tie to your story
4. Extra credit would be to have that activity be something that the school could benefit from (like a musical talent) or that differentiates you from other applicants.

I'm in the same boat: I travel M-T for work, which makes it difficult to get involved in most activities. I've seen people without significant "extracurriculars" get into top schools, and I've seen people not get in. Without a gigantic database of applicants, there really isn't a scientific way to go about identifying the incremental impact of it on an application (on top of every other variable + luck).
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Re: What is the impact of not volunteering on an application? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2011, 06:58
lhomme wrote:
Conventional wisdom would say that it is not the "volunteering" that is important, rather it is:

1. Showing the drive and ambition to get involved in something that interests you
2. Having the leadership ability to make an impact in that activity
3. Having that interest tie to your story
4. Extra credit would be to have that activity be something that the school could benefit from (like a musical talent) or that differentiates you from other applicants.

I'm in the same boat: I travel M-T for work, which makes it difficult to get involved in most activities. I've seen people without significant "extracurriculars" get into top schools, and I've seen people not get in. Without a gigantic database of applicants, there really isn't a scientific way to go about identifying the incremental impact of it on an application (on top of every other variable + luck).


Just to add to this this. It also shows that you are willing to go out of your way to help others. Very important in life and in business school. It also tells admissions that you are not just going to attend classes, study, and go home. It shows you will participate in clubs and activities.
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Re: What is the impact of not volunteering on an application? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2011, 07:22
If there's one thing I do with direct patient care, it is helping others. The difference is I am getting paid, and because I get paid, I am not going out of my way to do it. So I don't know if an admissions committee would say to themselves, 'yes he gets paid to help people, but he also gives hope to people with very little every day.'
I would like to get involved with Habitat for Humanity because I like to build. I also want to be more involved with an R/C airplane flying club; unfortunately, the two clash. The best flying is early morning on the weekends and I know construction also starts early in the morning.
I almost feel like I'm asking if I can be selfish about my free time and still get into MBA school.
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Re: What is the impact of not volunteering on an application? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2011, 07:38
xraymiller wrote:
If there's one thing I do with direct patient care, it is helping others. The difference is I am getting paid, and because I get paid, I am not going out of my way to do it. So I don't know if an admissions committee would say to themselves, 'yes he gets paid to help people, but he also gives hope to people with very little every day.'
I would like to get involved with Habitat for Humanity because I like to build. I also want to be more involved with an R/C airplane flying club; unfortunately, the two clash. The best flying is early morning on the weekends and I know construction also starts early in the morning.
I almost feel like I'm asking if I can be selfish about my free time and still get into MBA school.


Unless you plan on applying sometime in the future, not this fall, I would just go with what you have. Sometimes it looks worse to volunteer just to beef up your application. Habitat for Humanity is a popular one (this from comments made by admissions). They dislike it when an applicant helps out with Habitat a few months prior to applying to b-school.

Of course, this isn't to say you are not going to get in if you don't volunteer as many students do get in. But, remember, you may be competing against people who work 12+ hour days and still make time to volunteer. Every case is different.
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Re: What is the impact of not volunteering on an application? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2011, 16:13
Helping people without pay isn't a checkbox on the application. They're looking for well-rounded people who take at least some interest in others in their community. If your job happens to give you an opportunity to help people all day, that's great and definitely something you'll want to talk about in your applications. I think it is important to be able to talk about something interesting and important to you that takes place outside work though. It could be a hobby, your family, maybe even your dog. The adcom just wants to know that you're not a one-dimensional applicant.
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Joined: 31 Dec 1969
Location: United States
Concentration: Marketing, Other
GPA: 3.64
WE: Accounting (Accounting)
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 69 [0], given: 78515

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Re: What is the impact of not volunteering on an application? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2011, 16:38
tortoiserun wrote:
Helping people without pay isn't a checkbox on the application.


I like that, but there is a section on my application about volunteering and I don't feel I have the right to make references to helping people (via work) in that section.

The last 5 semesters I was completing my Bachelors. So that was full-time school and full-time work +. I would hope that they would say 'this guy deserves a break and some time to himself.' Now I am studying for the GMAT through Manhattan GMAT. It feels like I'm in class full-time again.
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Re: What is the impact of not volunteering on an application? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2011, 16:50
xraymiller wrote:
tortoiserun wrote:
Helping people without pay isn't a checkbox on the application.


I like that, but there is a section on my application about volunteering and I don't feel I have the right to make references to helping people (via work) in that section.

The last 5 semesters I was completing my Bachelors. So that was full-time school and full-time work +. I would hope that they would say 'this guy deserves a break and some time to himself.' Now I am studying for the GMAT through Manhattan GMAT. It feels like I'm in class full-time again.


Fair enough, I guess it is kind of a checkbox :) I agree, I definitely wouldn't put your work stuff there. But I think even if you have to leave it blank, you'll still be OK if you have a good application overall. There are definitely people who didn't do structured volunteer activities and still got into top b-schools. If you have the time and inclination to get involved in something, by all means, go for it (and get started sooner than later). But if not, just focus on what you already have to offer.
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Re: What is the impact of not volunteering on an application?   [#permalink] 14 Apr 2011, 16:50
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