How much weight are extracurriculars given into the application process?

I’m 32 years old, married with 3 kids, and have been considering med school for a long time, but keep talking myself out of it - too impractical, too hard, not enough time, too expensive, etc. Probably some pretty common excuses.

One concern I have is how competitive the application process is. I’ve read that they like to see well-rounded candidates who pursue hobbies, interests, spend time volunteering in clinical settings, etc. My concern is that if I’m spending so much time going to class and studying, possibly still working, and taking care of my family, where would I find time to have other hobbies? I haven’t had time to pursue “hobbies” since I became a mother, and I’m not even in school now. I do understand the importance of volunteering in a clinical setting - they want to know that you have a realistic idea of what it would be like to work in medicine, and they’d probably like to see a letter of rec from someone where you volunteer. I get that. But is volunteering enough, or do I also have to find time to join other organizations, take up other hobbies, etc. to make myself an “interesting” enough candidate? Would they understand that an applicant with a family might not have time for such activities, or would they not even know who does and does not have children?

I have never heard anything about hobbies, but maybe some more seasoned members have. Also,if that was part of the application, I would say spending time with your kids should count as a hobby.

Extracurriculars, volunteering, hobbies… whatever you call them are important. This is what makes you, ‘YOU’.

Having said that, I also want to stress that you age and your experiences prior to applying to med school, make you ‘You’ as well. I’m not sure if everyone here would agree, but tones of extracurriculars, clubs and volunteering in their traditional form probably matter more in an application of a traditional student. You probably have tones of stuff to put in your application, even before you start doing some clinical volunteering.


A physician I know (who has spent many years on board of admissions for med school) said the most important activity outside of school was the volunteer hours spent in the medical field. Above going on a volunteer medical mission. That the evidence of regular dedication to medicine was what they were really impressed by. Got to get myself back and clocking those volunteer hours!