How to Choose the Best Extracurricular Activities to Impress Medical School Admissions

File Photo


Applying to medical school is highly competitive, with admissions committees carefully evaluating various factors to select the most qualified candidates. Extracurricular activities play a vital role in this process, offering a unique opportunity for applicants to demonstrate their interests, skills, and character. Extracurricular activities showcase valuable qualities like commitment, leadership, and time management, providing a comprehensive view of an applicant’s potential as a medical professional. 

Strategic selection and engagement in meaningful activities can enhance an application, distinguishing applicants from others and increasing their chances of standing out in the applicant pool. Effective extracurricular activities can make a lasting impression on admissions committees, helping applicants secure a spot in their dream medical school and ultimately achieve their career goals.

What is the Role of Extracurricular Activities for Admissions?

Extracurricular activities reveal an individual’s personality, values, and dedication beyond academics, showcasing leadership, teamwork, empathy, and problem-solving skills. Medical schools seek applicants with depth and breadth in their involvement, demonstrating a sustained commitment and diverse interests while maintaining a balance that highlights their ability to manage multiple responsibilities. 

According to a 2023 survey by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), 83% of medical school admissions officers consider extracurricular activities as a very important or important factor in the application process. This balanced involvement showcases a well-rounded individual with the skills and dedication required to succeed as a medical professional, making them a more attractive candidate for admissions committees.

How to Choose the Right Extracurricular Activities?

Extracurricular activities are essential to stand out in medical school applications and focus on healthcare-related activities. Consultation by a med school admissions consultant can offer unique guidance, helping you carefully select extracurricular activities that enhance your admission application and strengthen your candidature. Strategic activity selection and participation increase your chances of getting into your top medical school choice by showing your commitment, aptitude, and enthusiasm.

The following are essential healthcare-related activities to consider:

Clinical Experience

Gaining hands-on clinical experience is essential. Volunteering at hospitals, clinics, or nursing homes can provide valuable insights into patient care and the healthcare environment. Shadowing physicians allows you to observe different specialties and understand the daily responsibilities of a doctor.

Research Opportunities

Participating in medical or scientific research demonstrates your commitment to advancing medical knowledge. Look for opportunities to assist in research projects, present at conferences, or co-author papers. Research experience highlights your analytical skills and ability to contribute to the field of medicine.

Highlight Leadership Roles

Leadership roles show that you can take initiative and manage responsibilities. Whether leading a student organization, coordinating community service projects, or organizing health fairs, these positions demonstrate your ability to inspire and manage a team. Leadership experience is highly valued by medical school admissions committees.

Engage in Community Service

Community service activities illustrate your compassion and dedication to helping others. Volunteering in underserved areas, participating in health education programs, or working with non-profit organizations can significantly impact. These experiences show your commitment to addressing healthcare disparities and improving community health.

Develop a Personal Passion

Pursuing a personal passion or hobby can make your application unique. Whether it’s music, sports, art, or writing, engaging deeply in an activity you love can set you apart. Personal interests demonstrate your creativity, perseverance, and ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

How to Balance Academics and Extracurriculars?

The following are essential strategies to balance academics and extracurricular activities:

Seek Support and Guidance

You can manage the demands of pre-med life by asking peers, mentors, and advisors for assistance. A consultant can provide personalized advice and help you strategically choose activities to strengthen your application. Maintaining a strong support network can offer encouragement and perspective during challenging times.

Time Management Skills

Balancing academics and extracurricular activities requires excellent time management skills. Create a schedule that allocates time for classes, study sessions, and extracurricular commitments. Prioritize tasks and set realistic goals to ensure you can manage your responsibilities effectively.

Avoid Overcommitting

While being involved in extracurricular activities is important, overcommitting can lead to burnout and affect your academic performance. Choose activities that genuinely interest you and align with your goals. Quality over quantity is important; admissions committees prefer a few well-chosen activities with significant involvement over many superficial ones.

How can Extracurricular Activities Highlighted in Application?

Your statement and interviews offer a chance to showcase how extracurricular experiences have driven your pursuit of medicine. Reflect on meaningful activities that have shaped your understanding, using specific examples to illustrate growth, achievements, and commitment. 

Prepare to discuss experiences that have had a profound impact, demonstrating readiness for medical school. Leverage strong letters of recommendation that reinforce the value of your extracurricular involvement, providing validation and underscoring your qualifications.


How many extracurricular activities should I include in my medical school application?

It’s not about the number of activities but the quality and significance of your involvement. Focus on key activities where you have shown commitment and growth over time. Highlight experiences that demonstrate leadership, clinical exposure, research, and community service.


Can non-medical extracurricular activities strengthen my application?

Non-medical extracurricular activities can strengthen your application by showcasing your diverse interests and skills. Personal passions, leadership in student organizations, and unique hobbies can make your application stand out and illustrate a well-rounded personality.


Choosing the best extracurricular activities to impress medical school admissions requires careful consideration and strategic planning. Focus on activities that align with your interests, demonstrate your commitment to healthcare, and highlight your leadership and community involvement. Your application will be noticed if you combine academics with valuable extracurricular activities that indicate your preparation for a medical career.

With the right approach and dedication, you can make a lasting impression on medical school admissions committees and take a significant step toward achieving your dream of becoming a physician.


Support Northern Colorado Journalism

Show your support for North Forty News by helping us produce more content. It's a kind and simple gesture that will help us continue to bring more content to you.

BONUS - Donors get a link in their receipt to sign up for our once-per-week instant text messaging alert. Get your e-copy of North Forty News the moment it is released!

Click to Donate