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# how important are extracurricular activities?

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Current Student
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how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 08:56
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Currently I really don't have much in that category... is it a really negative to not have much on that? I am looking into some volunteer programs but since i am also preparing i am not sure if i can split up my time too much... Any suggestions?
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 09:26
In terms of their importance, I think:

-it's important to have at least something in terms of extracurriculars
-quality (in terms of involvement, leadership positions held, etc) counts more than quantity

I'm an applicant this year too (i.e. take everything I say with a grain of salt), but I do think it is at least a slight negative if you don't have any unless there's a compelling reason (you worked almost full-time in undergrad to support yourself/your family, you're deployed to Iraq right now, etc). As far as suggestions, just get involved with something you're genuinely interested. Sounds corny, but those are the activities where you will want to be most involved and will find the most rewarding.
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 09:29
If you are targeting US schools it plays quite an important factor particularly if you are aiming the top ones, they would also see your involvement in alumni of your undergrad schools and such things. But if you start doing things now it would be more like preparing your resume for the application rather than telling them that your genuinely interested.
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 10:02
so is it better to start now and look disingenuous or not start at all? I guess I could say I was doing full time job with part time school for the past 3-4 years and didnt have the time?
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 10:04
Better late than never.Just get involved in something you like.
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 10:05
yeah, start off on soemthing which interest you and if possible related to your field so that you can give them soem valid reasons and build up a good essay's
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 10:23
I think ECs are just another part of the entire package.

My ECs were absolutely crap. I was involved in a couple things, on and off, nothing really spectacular, but I still did OK.

RF
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 10:34
refurb wrote:
I think ECs are just another part of the entire package.

My ECs were absolutely crap. I was involved in a couple things, on and off, nothing really spectacular, but I still did OK.

RF

if i were to donate to Habitat for humanities, would that count as xtracurricular activity? It seems the one near here is only accepting donations (not labor) at this time...
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 10:48
I don't think adcoms will view writing a check as being involved in an EC. Generally they're looking for being actively involved in the organization's activities, preferably in some sort of leadership role. I wouldn't focus too much on the brand of the EC, I'm sure if Habitat isn't accepting labor right now, there are plenty of other local organizations that would welcome your help.
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 10:55
Jerz wrote:
I don't think adcoms will view writing a check as being involved in an EC. Generally they're looking for being actively involved in the organization's activities, preferably in some sort of leadership role. I wouldn't focus too much on the brand of the EC, I'm sure if Habitat isn't accepting labor right now, there are plenty of other local organizations that would welcome your help.

How does big brother big sister sound? I applied to that and a couple of other mentoring places - do they count for the "leadership" roles adcom are looking for? I always liked kids and had job tutoring them before too so it is not all just for the application...
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 10:56
One thing that I never really understood about ECs is that Adcoms "allegedly" put so much weight in them yet the people that attend bschool the most are ones that don't really have time to commit to something substantially (banking, consulting). I am in consulting, so my job requires a lot of travel, so I can't commit to substantial ECs because my schedule is so unpredictable. For example, I joined this board on my Alumni Association, but then the meeting schedule was set in such a way that I missed 70% of meetings due to being out of town.

I really do wish I could do more just for the sake of it
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 10:58
It shows a side to your character, interests and involvement. I agree that financially contributing will not impress (that is simply to appease your own conscience), but getting involved in something simply to say you are involved is equally awful for my mind.

I think I told put on all applications about the work I did as a war grave cleaner around Dortmund one summer. It was a long time ago, but it was such a weird and crazy thing I couldn't resist throwing it in.
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 10:59
shaselai wrote:
How does big brother big sister sound? I applied to that and a couple of other mentoring places - do they count for the "leadership" roles adcom are looking for? I always liked kids and had job tutoring them before too so it is not all just for the application...

There are many more places than the big names, and many of the smaller ones may need more help and offer more opportunities to contribute. Here is a website that can help you find potential opportunities by area of interest, type of service, and geographic locaiton:

http://www.volunteermatch.org/
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 12:11
shaselai wrote:
refurb wrote:
I think ECs are just another part of the entire package.

My ECs were absolutely crap. I was involved in a couple things, on and off, nothing really spectacular, but I still did OK.

RF

if i were to donate to Habitat for humanities, would that count as xtracurricular activity? It seems the one near here is only accepting donations (not labor) at this time...

Donating? No. Even if you were to start volunteering, I think the adcoms would see right through that.

Remember, ECs don't have to just be about volunteer work, they can be about anything. You play any sports? Do have a non-traditional academic interest that you've spent a lot of time pursuing? An engineer who had a interest in art and has visited the big museums while traveling would make for an interesting story.

It has less to do about checking a box and saying "yes I've done some ECs" and more about showcasing who you are outside of your 9 to 5 job.

RF
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2009, 12:39
unhedged wrote:
One thing that I never really understood about ECs is that Adcoms "allegedly" put so much weight in them yet the people that attend bschool the most are ones that don't really have time to commit to something substantially (banking, consulting). I am in consulting, so my job requires a lot of travel, so I can't commit to substantial ECs because my schedule is so unpredictable. For example, I joined this board on my Alumni Association, but then the meeting schedule was set in such a way that I missed 70% of meetings due to being out of town.

I really do wish I could do more just for the sake of it

I was in a similar boat - I traveled nearly every week/two weekends of the month.

I think like refurb said, the adcom just want to know that you have a life outside work and have other interests/hobbies. If you don't have any leadership in them, that's fine - you can't get yourself a fancy title w/ responsibilities overnight! Just focus instead on what you did do, and how you grew from your experience.

In my case, I didn't have any "big" ECs or really, any leadership in any of them. I just had a few small things I'd done for fun along the way, and figured I'd mention them. I talked about one organization I had been involved with - where I first participated in a fundraising activity, then helped organize it (mostly through online work) the next year. I also had a slightly unique situation involving failure and ECs, so I worked that in to the essays as well.
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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12 Jul 2009, 07:14
get started asap. Like others have said , better late than never. Also, EC's do not just mean volunteering. Do you play any sports? Have any interesting hobbies that you are committed to?
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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12 Jul 2009, 15:00
shaselai wrote:
How does big brother big sister sound? I applied to that and a couple of other mentoring places - do they count for the "leadership" roles adcom are looking for? I always liked kids and had job tutoring them before too so it is not all just for the application...

i'm a big brother of ~5 years now and have had a pretty awesome experience with the program. my one regret (if any) would be that because BBBS is so well known, it could detract from the uniqueness of your extracurriculars (as there are probably many other applicants who are bigs). i still strongly recommend becoming a big...however look for additional ways you can engage the organization (e.g. organizing recruiting/fundraiser events, joining the board, etc.) to differentiate yourself from the pack.
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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13 Jul 2009, 10:39
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I think EC's are important no matter the applicant, but the magnitude of said EC's depends on your job. If you are a banker, it is probably difficult for you to dedicate a few nights a week to getting heavily involved in some non-profit. However, if you put in 40-50 hours a week, there should be something outside of work that is of strong interest to you and occupies a lot of your free time.

EC's are also important for your essays. When you are describing your experiences, your goals, and your reasons for getting an MBA, it should stem from your EC's as well. Schools want to know that you have a life outside of work (as much as possible) because they want someone who will contribute in other capacities besides academics.

EC's differentiate applicants. Since you started college, most b-school applicants strive for a good GPA, a good job, and now a good GMAT score. As difficult as this is to achieve, there are scores of people applying to top schools. So the top schools need to look at something else that separetes those who go for just the trifecata and those who strive for a little bit more--despite how busy they are with the other three elements.

Whoever said it is not too late to get started with EC's is absolutely right. The most important advice on getting invovled in an EC now is make sure it is something you believe in. Of course, it is easy to write about something that you have been doing for awhile, but if you are not enthusiastic about it that will come through in your essays. So, if you are applying now without any EC's, it is time to get involved. Inventory your interests, gauge your time commitment, and choose accordingly. It will make a difference in your app.
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Re: how important are extracurricular activities? [#permalink]

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13 Jul 2009, 11:37
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shaselai wrote:
so is it better to start now and look disingenuous or not start at all? I guess I could say I was doing full time job with part time school for the past 3-4 years and didnt have the time?

No, I would advise against claiming a "time" issue. The fundamental issue is that there are plenty of other applicants in similar situations with respect to time constraints -- and yet they often have perfectly good activities. Moreover, schools want people who will be active members of their own communities not just "going through the motions".

Much better to start now than to just "cop a plea"
Re: how important are extracurricular activities?   [#permalink] 13 Jul 2009, 11:37
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