Extracurriculars if working full time after college into a DIY post-bacc

Hi everyone,

Non-traditional student/career changer here. I completed my BA back in 2012 and went right into an MA program so I’m not coming from a science background. Shortly after I started working full time as a first responder, which I’ve been doing for the past seven years. I just began taking my prereq courses for med school.

While I did participate in extracurricular activities in college and into graduate school, is it even relevant anymore? I know pre-med advisors will tell you to only list extracurriculars after high school, but at this point in my life, as a 32 year old non-trad career changer, are college extracurriculars worth mentioning? I feel like most of the traditional qualities we get from extracurriculars are still present today (leadership, teamwork, work ethic, time management, social interaction, etc.), but I think I can articulate those qualities from solely working full-time while completing a DIY post bacc, getting clinical experience, and shadowing.

Any thoughts?

From what I understand, extracurricular activities don’t expire so I don’t see a reason why you couldn’t list them. However, space is limited on the applications (specifically the AMCAS). As such, it seems that the root question you are asking is, “How do I determine which activities to list and which ones I leave out?”

In addressing this question, I think there is another question to use to evaluate each activity: “How does this activity fit into the story I am telling in my application?” You could also rephrase this as, “what am I communicating about myself with this activity (e.g. interests, work ethic, etc.)?” Not all of your activities need to be healthcare related. But they should tell the ad comms something about you.

To give a hypothetical example, perhaps you found a passion for going on mission trips with a church in college and want to continue doing this into the future. Then list it. Even though the activity isn’t medical in nature it shows interest and involvement in the community and tells the ad comms about you. A side bonus is that this example can also easily be translated into a medical context (think Doctors Without Borders). However, this later part isn’t completely necessary.

The important part is to show what you are interested in, both in and outside of medicine. Med schools like students who are a part of the community and activities help to reflect this better than the other sections of the application. You don’t need to be involved in every area of the community, just some area. And to be honest, ad comms also understand that time is limited, so you also don’t necessarily need hundreds and hundreds of hours to show involvement.

Having said all of that, I haven’t hit the point of applying yet, so this is just my two cents. Either way, hope it helps give you something to think about. Good luck!

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