Medical School Admissions, Explained


Welcome to the How To Be Pre-Med™ Extracurriculars Bucket.

The word “extracurricular,” by strict definition, refers to any activity outside of the classroom. But in the context of medical school admissions, I use extracurricular to mean any experience that does not fit into the category of academics, research, community service, or clinical experience. Examples of extracurricular categories include:

  • Clubs
  • Sports
  • Arts/Dance
  • Hobbies
  • Travel
  • Languages

Extracurricular activities are a great way to stand out in the medical school admissions process. This is another chance to be creative and follow your passions. Admissions committees may not remember that you had a 3.7 GPA, but they will likely remember that you climbed 50 14,000-foot mountains in Colorado over the last 5 years or speak fluent Gaelic or collect classic bicycles and auction them off for charity. Do not be afraid to follow your passions, even if they do not directly relate to medicine. Your extracurricular experiences will contribute not only to your medical school admissions chances, but will help you live a happy, well-balanced life. These are the activities that often continue through medical school and beyond and make you who you are.

When choosing extracurricular activities, the same rule applies as for choosing every other pre-med experience: focus on commitment and leadership. Fewer stellar experiences are more powerful than many “one-offs,” or things you spend little time doing.