The entire MBA application process is not just exhausting; it also takes up most of your time during those months of preparation. Every applicant focuses on their best possible aspects to highlight, feature their unique skills, and present their outstanding achievements. Your application’s leadership role and community service(s) are like jewels, but you must know precisely how, where, and how much to express it. Indeed, extracurricular activities are one essential part of your college application. Apart from your test score (GMAT/GRE, IELTS/TOEFL), they are the best way for any college to understand your personality and assess your profile. But what if you have no extracurricular activities to show in your application and nothing more than your academics? Learn here-
Determining If you have/don’t have Extracurricular Activities
The first step is to find how many activities and non-academic engagements you have had and how you plan to list them. Some students feel they have zero activities to mention in their application, but little do they know that everybody has something or the other that accounts for credits.
Anything you’ve done outside the classroom that doesn’t account for school activities can be considered extracurricular. While not everything can be viewed as a co-curricular activity, there are ways to find the worth in each exercise you have participated in. First, we will bust three of the significant surrounding myths, which will also give you examples to prepare your list of activities when you feel that you have none-
- An extracurricular has to be sponsored by your college. No, an extracurricular can be anything you are productively dedicated to and actively involved in to make an impact—E.g., community service work.
- When a student says, they have no extracurricular activities because they help out at home a lot. This reflects that you will likely take up more responsibilities and have better time management skills. E.g., tutoring your siblings or doing part-time work to help with the finances at home. Colleges are interested to hear about them, as they understand not everybody has the luxury to participate in traditional activities.
- Extracurriculars can’t be academic. This is another myth that is not valid. There are no educational activities under the umbrella of co-curricular. These can achieve a recognizable position in a national olympiad, writing research papers, etc. The objective is to show a passion for an area of study.
What To Do Next
Once you have accomplished that, there is no data for you to add to your list of co-curricular; the following are the steps you shall take. Remember, leadership-oriented involvement always holds more value and meaning. E.g., if you go for a hike, are you the one guiding the hikers? If you volunteer at shelters or NGOs, what impactful and key role do you partake in if you volunteer at shelters or NGOs? These are the gaps you need to fill.
- Find opportunities that can still be incorporated in your application – like community service, online internships, spreading awareness on crucial topics on social media, etc. Project each task that somehow tries to reflect a leadership role or show an interest in your future goals/area of liking.
- Another thing you can do is to volunteer at a local shelter- be clear of your role and the impact you lead with. Now, there are a few things a student can help with at a shelter other than taking care of animals- assisting in the administration work, managing the finances, starting donation drives, etc.
- Now, if neither of the things mentioned above works out for you, we need to be creative at this point. Start with your alma mater and see if there are roles you can take on as an alumnus. This will open a wide range of opportunities for you and your fellow alumnus.
- To focus solely on leadership and management, you can apply online on specific platforms that are dedicated to public speaking. It can immediately provide you with several leadership opportunities during the weekly meetings and give you a role of a VP within 3 months. It will help you with public speaking and interviewing, as well as with leadership and EC experience.
- And lastly, if you feel the world needs more capitalists, find a local organisation that teaches kids financial wisdom, managerial skills, and professional development. This will help boost your profile and show a contribution to society.
And the last thing you must be careful of is, don’t lie on your application. If you’ve chosen not to do anything outside of the classroom, then you shouldn’t try to fix that with dishonesty. If your colleges find out, they may decide to rescind any offers based on who you misrepresented yourself to be. Instead, make sure you present yourself as you are and discuss your future goals and passions in your essays. Customise whatever you have and use these experiences to prove your point and illustrate the unique aspects you possess.
Identify Your Interests and Build Upon Them
If you find your MBA application lacking in the extracurricular activities section, remember that it’s never too late to initiate and get involved. The first step in this direction is identifying your interests and passions. What are the activities or causes that excite you or make you feel purposeful? Is it arts, environment, sports, technology, social work, or any other field? Reflecting on these interests will provide a starting point to your involvement in related activities.
For instance, if you are inclined towards the environment and sustainability, you could consider joining a local environmental group, initiating a community clean-up drive, or even starting a green initiative at your workplace. If arts and culture excite you, participating in community theater, organizing local art exhibitions, or offering free art classes for children in the neighborhood could be meaningful engagements.
Your active involvement in these areas will not only give you a sense of satisfaction but also help you acquire and demonstrate essential skills such as leadership, organization, teamwork, and problem-solving. Moreover, it will highlight your capability to commit and contribute to a cause or interest.
Additionally, choosing activities that resonate with your interests ensures that your engagement doesn’t feel forced or contrived. Your authenticity is essential as it reflects your character and values. Admissions committees look beyond the number of activities applicants engage in. They assess the depth of their involvement, the impact they’ve made, and how these experiences have shaped them as individuals.
These activities will also reflect how you would contribute to the MBA program’s diversity. Showcasing that you have leveraged your interests to make a difference in your community could potentially set you apart from other applicants.
Section: Networking and Using Connections
While engaging in extracurricular activities, one must not overlook another significant advantage that comes with it: the opportunity to build networks and connections. Attend events, workshops, seminars, or forums related to your interests or your chosen field. These can be local community events, national conferences, or even international forums. Engaging with a wider community helps you gain different perspectives, introduces you to new ideas, and can even open doors to opportunities for active involvement in community projects or leadership initiatives.
For instance, joining a local entrepreneurship group, business club, or professional association related to your field could offer numerous opportunities to enhance your leadership and teamwork skills. You could find yourself organizing events, leading workshops, or even delivering talks. The networks you build in these groups could also lead to collaborative projects that have far-reaching impact. Such experiences are invaluable, and they add significant weight to your MBA application.
Even online networking platforms and social media can be leveraged to connect with professionals in your field of interest. Engaging in meaningful conversations online, participating in webinars, and joining professional groups can also enhance your understanding and provide opportunities for extracurricular involvement.
When you start crafting your application, ensure you highlight these experiences. Remember, it’s not just about mentioning that you were a part of certain activities. It’s more important to demonstrate your active involvement, the initiatives you took, the impact you created, and the skills you honed during these experiences.
Admissions committees are keen to understand how you could enrich their MBA program. Therefore, even if you feel you have fewer extracurricular activities to showcase, a well-articulated explanation of your select engagements and their impact can create a compelling case for your candidature. It’s not about filling up your resume with countless activities, but about effectively showcasing your potential, commitment, and the unique perspective you can bring to the MBA program.