Highlighting extracurricular activities: 3 things to do


While GMAT and GPA scores are essential parts of the MBA application, admissions officers also like to see applicants who are well balanced outside of the classroom.

Heidi Hillis, Expert Admissions Coach at Fortuna and former MBA Admissions Interviewer, recently explained to experts how applicants can best position extracurricular activities in their B-school application.


When it comes to extracurricular activities, there isn’t necessarily one that admissions officers prefer over another. However, what admissions officers are looking for is your involvement in an activity in terms of due diligence and planning.

“These are valuable skills needed to earn the MBA and can provide further evidence of a student’s likelihood of success,” says Nicole Cornell Sadowski, director of graduate programs at the Graham School of Business at York College of Pennsylvania, in US News. “Having a leadership role in extracurricular activities is a plus, but not necessary to demonstrate impact. ”


Like any point on your resume, when it comes to discussing extracurricular activities, you’ll want to quantify the type of impact you’ve had.

“If you support an annual fundraising event, how much does it raise annually and how many people attend? If you helped organize volunteers, how many? “Catherine Tuttle, former associate director of Duke Fuqua, told Fortuna Admissions. “For example, the concise description: ‘Be part of the gala planning committee; assisting the board of directors in the planning and execution of an annual event raising over $ 300,000 each year ”is more meaningful than“ assisting in the planning of the annual gala ”.


When discussing your extracurricular activities, it is important to relate them to your career goals.

“Extracurricular activities that illustrate specific experiences and skills related to your career goals help strengthen your story and show your commitment and passion for that particular goal,” says Malvina Miller Complainville, former deputy director of the careers department at Harvard Business School, at Fortuna Admissions. “This can be particularly useful in filling in gaps in your professional experience. For example, if team management is crucial to your long-term goal but you haven’t had the opportunity at work to lead teams, this is the perfect opportunity to showcase the experience of team management that you had at the head of your regional club. “

In addition to relating the activities to your own goals, you will also want to align them with the values ​​of the MBA program.

“For example, the first trait listed in HBS’s ‘What Are We Looking For’ online statement is ‘A Leadership Habit,’ so it would be a good idea to highlight leadership experiences in your extracurricular activities,” Miller said. Complainville at Fortuna Admissions. “You can do this by reflecting on the leadership skills you’ve developed by starting a new undergraduate club, creating a start-up outside of work, or coaching a soccer team. ”

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, US News

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