Students who are planning on pursuing an MBA will often wonder how to find the best MBA extracurriculars. Having the right extracurriculars can benefit your application materials, such as an , so it isn’t something that should be taken lightly. When it comes to applying, most schools are going to use extracurriculars to help differentiate candidates. And while good grades and strong submission materials are typically weighed more heavily, having strong non-academic experience to discuss in your essays can highlight the traits that programs are looking for in candidates. Keep reading if you want to learn more about why extracurriculars can improve your chances of getting accepted, how to find and choose extracurriculars, and what some of the best options are for MBA applicants.
Your extracurriculars come in handy when applying to MBA programs when your grades happen to be on the lower end of the cutoff. The difference between acceptance and rejection can often come down to your extracurriculars and non-academic activities. Put it this way: if you and another applicant are competing for a spot in the program and you have the same GPA and similar application materials, admissions will look to your extracurriculars to make a final decision. You can also use your extracurriculars to enhance your application materials. For instance, if you want to write an outstanding , you can leverage your extracurriculars to make a strong impression on the admissions committee.
MBA extracurriculars can offer a wider range of experiences that won’t necessarily show in your employment history. If you’re wondering , one of your best options is to fill those gaps with MBA extracurriculars, especially if you lack work experience on their .
But what extracurriculars are valuable for an MBA applicant? Most programs are going to be searching for applicants with strong management capabilities, leadership, good interpersonal skills, and excellent problem-solving skills. But different programs emphasize different qualities - research your schools of choice before you start composing a list of your accomplishments to demonstrate to the MBA admissions committee. When you’re constructing your resume, make sure you include entries in your employment history section that represent the qualities that programs look for.
MBA programs tend to have very small class sizes because and tend to be quite low. Because most students who apply to an MBA program not only have good grades, but also lots of experience under their belts, it’s even more difficult to stand out. Extracurricular activities magnify differences between applications and show important shades of your personality, which is difficult to do with just your personal statement and .
But what kind of activities do MBA programs look for? What are the best extracurriculars for MBA? Read further to find out.
You might be disappointed by the answer, but there are no "best" extracurriculars objectively, but you should pay attention to 2 important factors: passion and dedication. Any extracurricular activity will be considered impressive if the admissions committee can see that you truly love what you do. The best MBA extracurricular is the one that will demonstrate your commitment and progress, be it a sport, a volunteer position, or a hobby. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you need to do something spectacular, like eradicate homelessness, in order to impress with your activities. You simply need to demonstrate that the activity is truly something you learned from and something that helped you to became the person you are today. A one-day stint at a soup kitchen will not do. You need to spend time and effort to really make a change in your community and grow as a person, and that's what MBA admissions committees look for when reviewing your extracurriculars.
If you do not have any activities like this in your arsenal but want to gain some important qualities and experiences before you apply, check out these areas to find the right activity for you:
MBA programs look for leaders. One of the best activities that really hone your leadership qualities is sport. Just think about: determination, focus, and strength are qualities that are often associated with athletes and with business leaders. So it makes sense to consider joining a sport if you want to hone these skills further.
There are hundreds of sports clubs in any given city or community. If you are still a student, research your school campus to see what sports clubs and leagues are available. Most schools offer a significant range of sports and fitness options for students. Some common choices include basketball, hockey, baseball, track and field, soccer, ultimate frisbee, and field hockey. To find out about how you can sign up or try out, visit your school’s website for more information. Some schools will use third-party platforms to organize intramurals, which are more casually formatted programs that are typically co-ed for students who would prefer a less competitive setting. For intramurals, most leagues have three options for people who want to join: create a team, join an existing team, or sign up as a free agent. Free agents will be chosen by teams that need members.
If you are no longer a student, check out your city's webpage for sports teams and leagues you can join. City-run programs are typically more affordable than sports clubs, but you can also look into those and join by paying a fee.
Hobbies and Interests
How you spend your time outside of work and school tells a lot about the kind of person you are. Your hobbies can be a great example of you skills, motivations, and passions. Whether you are still a student or not, your hobbies can be used to demonstrate your experiences and skills. And most importantly, your hobbies can really make you stand out. Whether it's needlework, drama club, or painting, hobbies can showcase your drive, attention to detail, and other important skills for MBA programs.
If you have not found a hobby and want to bolster your MBA application by working on this gap, here're some suggestions that may help:
If you're still a student, consider joining a student club on campus. Student societies and clubs are designed to give students the ability to congregate with like-minded people. You can either join an existing club, or you can start one yourself and recruit members by advertising on various online boards or social media groups. Examples of common clubs include drama club, music club, dance club, gaming club, cooking club, comedy club, and honor societies. Some clubs are larger than others, and some are eligible to apply for funding in certain circumstances. To find out more about the clubs that your school offers, you can go to your school’s website and navigate to the page that lists various clubs with steps on how to join. One of the advantages of joining or starting an "official" club is that you can achieve or progress in your hobby or interest more if you work in a group. For example, MBA programs really value communication skills and critical thinking skills - if working on these skills is a passion of yours, it'd be easier to work on them on a debate team rather than by yourself in front of a mirror. So depending on your interests, you may want to seek out help of your peers by joining a society or a club.
If you are not a student, you can still join clubs and societies online or in-person. There are hundreds of options in every city and town. However, geographical limits are no longer an issue with prevalence of the internet, so you can even join a club across the world. These may include book clubs, cooking clubs, language learning classes, and so on.
Hobbies and interests are excellent MBA extracurriculars because they show who you are beyond grades and essays. They can really make you stand out and you can often leverage your hobbies and interests in an .
Check out more tips for your interview:
Working to better your community via volunteer and community service is an excellent extracurricular for any professional or graduate program. It is especially telling of your desire to be involved in more than just your professional growth - it shows that you consider yourself a part of a community and are willing to dedicate your time and efforts to make an impact. But do not be fooled into thinking that you can just come to a homeless shelter once a year and put that on your MBA resume as a badge of honor. While there is nothing - nothing! - wrong with coming to a shelter once a year to provide help, this activity will not impress the admissions committee. Remember our key rule to choosing the best MBA extracurriculars: passion and dedication. A once-a-year visit can hardly be a demonstration of passion and commitment. No one is denying that you are doing this from the bottom of your heart, but this activity does not lead to progress or improvement in skill. To achieve progress, you need to commit a solid chunk of time and effort to an activity, so be mindful of that when you create your application.
Why are volunteer and community service beneficial for an MBA application? In addition to showing that you are an active member of your community, you will be able to demonstrate skills and experiences that are especially valuable to some programs: many MBA programs are community-oriented, which means they aim to edify students in the context of the community. Some MBA programs are designed to train students in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which focuses on ethics and sustainability for businesses and is heavily predicated on being a proactive member of the community. Even for programs that aren’t specifically utilizing a community-centered approach, you’re able to show that you have the skills necessary to succeed: leadership, interpersonal skills, and an accountable and responsible mindset.
TIP: Something key to remember if you choose to do any community service projects is that you want to position your contributions in terms of what the outcomes were. How much money did you raise? How many items were donated? How many volunteers did you recruit? Quantifying your efforts allows you to make your position more significant. You can include this information in your .
When you’re in the process of discovering how to find the best MBA extracurriculars, the most important thing is to choose ones that you care about and can commit to. Ideal extracurriculars will involve making a meaningful contribution to an organization through your participation. This way, you will be able to talk about your work with the organization and why it’s important to you in your and your application materials. An admissions committee can then extract information about your career goals and personality to evaluate you as an applicant.
1. Are extracurriculars required for an MBA application?
They aren’t required, but they are highly recommended because they give you an opportunity to showcase the characteristics that you can’t demonstrate in your application materials.
2. Do extracurriculars matter more than GPA and GMAT?
They don’t matter more than GPA and GMAT, but they have the potential to be the difference between an acceptance and rejection, especially if your scores are on the lower end.
3. How should I choose extracurriculars?
You should choose extracurriculars based on your interests. It’s more important to show engagement in whatever you choose, rather than choosing activities for the sake of optics. Quality over quantity is definitely how you want to navigate this part of your application.
4. What are the best extracurriculars for MBA applicants?
As an MBA applicant, you will want to target specific traits in your extracurriculars. Admissions committees don’t care much about which extracurriculars you have, only that you show that you’re engaged and committed. Good examples include community service, sports, and student clubs.
5. What skills should I be targeting in my choices?
Generally, you should be targeting leadership, commitment, communication, interpersonal skills, and critical thinking in your extracurriculars. However, the traits that admissions want to see in candidates will depend on the curriculum and program approach, which you can learn more about if you visit the admissions pages of the schools you want to apply to.
6. What if the application deadline is approaching and I don’t have any extracurriculars?
Reflect on your undergraduate studies and consider any activities you might have overlooked. Were you part of a student group? Were you involved in any programs or committees, even briefly? Extracurricular activities don’t need to be affiliated with the school. Internships, volunteering, and other activities can all count toward the meaningful experiences that admissions want to see on your application.
7. Do I need to have accomplishments to leverage my extracurriculars effectively?
Accomplishments aren’t required, but if you have any, be sure to mention them on your application when you can. The most important thing is that you’re showing that you were engaged and committed, but quantifying your experiences can also help make them appear more impactful.
8. If I have good grades, do I really need extracurriculars on my application?
Extracurriculars aren’t required, but even if you have good grades, extracurriculars can allow you to get a head start on developing some of the skills and instilling some of the values that you will gain during an MBA program.