Transcripts verify your academic performance, and recommendation letter affirms your competency at work, but your involvement with non-profit through volunteering and your entrepreneurial initiatives need much more than a certificate of participation, or a ‘single line’ in a resume.
Why do Business Schools consider Extracurricular to be an important part of MBA Application? Learn more.
Firstly, schools would prefer candidates who are well rounded and has a life outside work. Your past involvement in extra-curricular activities is an indicator of the non-profit and start-up organizations that you respect and value. It also demonstrates the skills that you have leveraged for the community. More importantly, schools would like to know how you would contribute in the campus outside class work. Student clubs are an integral part of the learning environment, and schools would rather have a candidate who can actively contribute in one of the clubs than someone who is good academically, but has very little involvement outside of class discussions.
Continuous Commitment towards Community Service
Community Service is one of the extracurricular activities that have high weightage in MBA Admissions. Almost all candidates will have stories of how they were involved with a charity or raised fund for a non-profit, but a spur in community service (one or two months) every year will not demonstrate your commitment towards the community. The involvement has to be continuous, and action should speak louder than words.
Coming out of Comfort Zone
Unfortunately, there are typecasts created in the minds of AdCom about each demography. For American applicants, being part of a marathon for a cause is a cliché now. Find out how you can include extracurricular that is atypical for an American candidate. Instead of running for a marathon, include how you were also part of the marketing, and organization of the event. Another example is organizing a marathon outside US where English was not the medium of communication. This will show that you were ready to come out of your comfort zone and cross cultural and language barriers for a bigger cause.
Less Experienced MBA Applicants
For candidates with less experience, extracurricular activities are a great means to make up for the lack of experience in your chosen field. Your continuous involvement in volunteer work will offer several opportunities to show your leadership skills, which would be tough to show in a work environment where you are under the supervision of an experienced individual.
You develop communication and team building skills through work experience, but leadership skills require planning, setting goals for the organization/team and handling conflicts. Most of these experiences - you gain through volunteer or entrepreneurial projects, outside regular work.
Diversity of Experience – Essays
Although the number of essays and word limit have slightly gone up this year, AdCom gets very little insight about your personality if the essays were all about your work. Mix it up with extracurricular activities and Entrepreneurial projects that you have undertaken.
What are the Extracurricular or Volunteer Activities that are relevant for MBA Application?
• Any activity that shows your entrepreneurial skills
• Any activity that shows your leadership, communication, and emotional intelligence
• Any activity or event that proves your ability to come out of your comfort zone.
Ex: International travel, learning a foreign language & crossing cultural and communication barrier
• Any activity where you are involved with the military or affiliated organizations
• Any activity that involve organizing events - at work, college level, or alumni association
• Any hobby that involve practice on a regular basis - football, baseball, cricket, basketball, soccer, archery, golf and other sports that require discipline and focus.
• Any activity that shows team building capability - fundraising, volunteering for a local charity or setting up an online campaign for a bigger cause.
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Only 1 in 900 gains admission to Harvard MBA program. If you write your essay focused only on your achievements, post-MBA goals, and your pre-MBA experience, you will be among the 899 rejected applicants.
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Download the Winning MBA Essay Guide (2017 Entering Class)