Highlighting Extracurricular Activities: 3 Things To Do

While GMAT scores and GPA are critical elements of the MBA application, admissions officers also like to see applicants who are well-rounded outside of the classroom.

Heidi Hillis, Fortuna Admissions Expert Coach and former MBA admissions interviewer, recently spoke to experts about how applicants can best position extracurriculars on their B-school application.


When it comes to extracurricular activities, there isn’t necessarily one that admissions officers prefer over another. What admissions officers do look for, however, is your involvement in an activity in terms of diligence and planning.

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


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

“If you support a yearly fundraising event, how much does it raise annually and how many people attend? If you helped organize volunteers, how many?”, Catherine Tuttle, former Duke Fuqua Associate Director, tells Fortuna Admissions. “For example, the concise description, ‘Serve on the gala planning committee; assist Executive Board with the planning and execution of an annual event raising $300K+ each year,’ is more meaningful than, ‘Assist with planning annual gala.’”


When discussing your extracurricular activities, it’s important to connect them with your career goals.

“Extracurriculars that illustrate experiences and specific skills linked to your career goals help strengthen your story and show your commitment and passion to this particular goal,” says Malvina Miller Complainville, former Harvard Business School Assistant Director of Career Service, tells Fortuna Admissions. “This can be especially helpful to fill gaps in your professional experience. For example, if team management is crucial in your long-term goal but you haven’t had the opportunity at work to lead teams, this is the ideal opportunity to highlight the team management experience you’ve had as head of your regional club.”

On top of connecting the activities to your own goals, you’ll also want to align them to the values of the MBA program.

“For example, the first trait listed in HBS’ ‘What Are We Looking For’ online statement is ‘A Habit of Leadership,’ so it would be shrewd to highlight leadership experiences within your extracurriculars,” Miller Complainville tells Fortuna Admissions. “You might do this by reflecting on the leadership skills you developed while starting a new undergrad club, building a start-up outside of work or coaching a soccer team.”

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, US News

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