Over the years, we have come across many applicants to the PGP at the Indian School of Business (ISB PGP) who are anxious about the very limited presence of extracurricular activities in their profile. This post answers the most common questions that applicants have vis-a-vis the role of Extra curricular in the ISB application.
What comprises Extracurricular activities?
Extracurricular activities are activities that a candidate participates in, outside of the regular academic curriculum of a school or educational institution. Examples of extracurricular activities include sports teams, drama club, music groups, debate team, volunteer work, and academic clubs.
Why is participation in Extracurricular activities, deemed important?
Well-rounded candidates is what ISB is looking for. Consequently, ISB considers extracurricular activities an important aspect of a candidate’s profile, because it helps ISB evaluate a candidate’s well-roundedness, by virtue of getting to know more about the applicant’s overall personality, leadership potential, interest-areas, and ability to work in a team.
Similarly, volunteering activities (participation in social service and humanitarian causes) show compassion and empathy towards others, which are important attributes in professional relationships.
What really matters in Extracurricular activities?
Any positions of responsibility that you have held (in college clubs, organizing events, or sports teams), any awards that you have won (in sports or cultural events), any original content that you have generated (blogs/journal-articles/paper-presentations etc. in your areas of interest), or any major initiatives that you have taken (such as creating a part-time business in college or starting a club/society) are all contributions that add to your overall profile. Refer to ISB blogpost on how to showcase your extracurricular activities.
What’s the difference between a hobby and an Extracurricular?
Since ISB Application has a separate section for Hobbies, it is important to understand this difference. Hobbies are pursued for personal enjoyment, while Extracurricular is a more organized/advanced level of participation in an activity. For instance, playing guitar in free time is a hobby, whereas ‘Acquired Grade-4 Trinity certificate in Guitar’ would be an Extracurricular.
Am I doomed if I have nothing to show for Extracurriculars?
A big NO. We have worked with numerous candidates who have made it to ISB despite no Extracurricular activities worth a mention! These candidates were able to distinguish themselves through other aspects of the application, such as a good GMAT/GRE score, sterling academics, consistent job-performance, and clarity of goals.
For most other applicants, extracurriculars are a component (admittedly an important one) of the overall profile.
Hence, our verdict is that the role of Extra curricular in the ISB applications is important. However, applicants need to appreciate that extracurricular are good to have but not a must have component of your profile. So, if the extracurricular component of your application is weak, focus on articulating the strength of other components of your profile (GMAT/GRE score, job-performance, and goals, as mentioned above). This will adequately compensate for the lack of extracurricular in your profile.