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Extra Curricular vs Grades

DardyjoeDardyjoe Posts: 63Registered User Junior Member
edited November 2012 in Pre-Med Topics
I'm not a typical pre-med student. I tend to be more social and outgoing and I am much more involved than my pre-med peers. Something I've noticed is that most pre-meds back out of any and almost all extra-curricular activities in order to have more time to study for their core classes. Not surprisingly, the book worms get better grades than I, even though my GPA is still competitive.

As it becomes time to pick my major(s) and consider my career path, I have begun to wonder at what cost I am participating in life outside of the libraries. I do not want to be a typical practicing doctor. I would rather work in public health and eventually move into the policy sector. Is it more important that I experiment with more extracurricular activities to solidify what I want to do, or should I spend my time in the libraries buried in my books.

I guess this comes from an overall confusion at the process which tends to favor students driven to make money over students who actually want to help people and be doctors for the sake of personal fulfillment. As a member of the last class of students to take the old MCAT, I seriously wonder which applicant medical schools prefer. Would they rather have the narrow-minded bookworm or the worldly individual with 0.2-0.3 less of a GPA.

tl;dr Extracurriculars or Grades? What does this say about the system?
Post edited by Dardyjoe on
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Replies to: Extra Curricular vs Grades

  • bigreddawgiebigreddawgie Posts: 2,118Registered User Senior Member
    It's not either or. It's both. I'm amazed at how talented, smart, and outgoing all my classmates are. If your gpa is competitive, then you're fine. continue what you're doing and enjoy college. no need to constantly compare yourself to others
  • kyubinesskyubiness Posts: 75Registered User Junior Member
    "Is it more important that I experiment with more extracurricular activities to solidify what I want to do, or should I spend my time in the libraries buried in my books."

    "I seriously wonder which applicant medical schools prefer. Would they rather have the narrow-minded bookworm or the worldly individual with 0.2-0.3 less of a GPA."

    Assuming from how you describe these two characteristics, you'll have to have first that decent thinking about being a studious student, and being an outgoing student. Nonetheless, I see both these characteristics as necessary:being studious at the same time outgoing would be more decent and balanced.
  • limabeanslimabeans Posts: 4,701Registered User Senior Member
    I think you have a good question here. Of course it also depends on what ECs you're talking about and hopefully your ECs are related to medicine or some kind of service to the community so it ties into with your goal to be a medical doctor. Offhand, I'd guess that it's a better combination to:
    get an A in Bio + tutor young students vs
    get a B in Bio + be the treasurer in the outing club.

    I think first criteria for med school is grades/MCAT scores, but after that, it's a number of other details, including shadowing/research/LORs, and of course ECs.
  • kristin5792kristin5792 Posts: 2,005Registered User Senior Member
    Just because other premeds are doing it doesn't mean it's right or correct or the best thing for you to do. Which is to say--don't worry too much about what your peers are doing. The thing is, you basically have to do both. You have to have depth and breadth in your studies and in your extracurriculars. You have to excel in both worlds. You really can't rob Peter to pay Paul in this instance; both are crucially important.
  • somemomsomemom Posts: 9,113Registered User Senior Member
    To answer your specific question, if you are talking about 4.0 v 3.8 and you are able to show a much more involved person and put together a more excellent cohesive application, yes, 3.8 is probably not going to be much different than 4.0 in your interview invites, especially if the ECs allow a better application, but that does not just mean checking some boxes on the app, it means being really involved in things and portraying them well.

    3.5 v 3.3 could be a different story.
  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Posts: 5,257Registered User Senior Member
    A 3.5 "bookworm" isn't really going to do so hot either.

    Given the national acceptance rate is in the 40s and that's after the major attrition that occurs during the first few years of college, I would venture that, as kristin said, just because lots of pre-meds do something doesn't mean it's right.
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Posts: 12,833Registered User Senior Member
    "Something I've noticed is that most pre-meds back out of any and almost all extra-curricular activities in order to have more time to study for their core classes. "
    =Very unusual observation as most pre-meds definitely have much much more on their plate than other students in general. I am very surprized. There is never a question in pre-med mind, they all without exception want to participate in many activities and the only obstacle sometime is to obtain an access. Nobody has any questions either about grades vs EC's, they got to do both and in addition to satisfy their desire to pursue their own interests that do not have anything to do with Medical field and Med. School requirements. They know that starting with Med. School, they will never have a chance to do so, they will be much busier.
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Posts: 12,833Registered User Senior Member
    BTW, in Grades vs EC's, grades are absolutely first. However, you will NOT find a single Med. School applicant 4.0 or lower who would not have plenty of EC's. So, if you are planning to skip them for the sake of grades, you will not be able to compete with others. No, got to have both and 4.0 is not that unreasonable, good number of applicants have 4.0.
  • somemomsomemom Posts: 9,113Registered User Senior Member
    A huge part of medical education is dealing with the ever increasing time constraints. High school takes more work than junior high, many kids flounder in college not knowing how to work harder in the same amount of time, college takes more work than HS classes plus self-motivation and organization since the student's day is no longer completely organized.

    The first couple of years of med school are much more academically rigorous than undergrad, many refer to the learning as drinking from a fire hose. The med school clinical years seem to be even more time consuming than the academic years.

    Residency sounds even more intense.

    Med school admissions want to see that you can handle that, both great grades and ECs is what they want to see.
  • kristin5792kristin5792 Posts: 2,005Registered User Senior Member
    I'm not a typical pre-med student. I tend to be more social and outgoing and I am much more involved than my pre-med peers.

    If this is true, and if you actually have good grades (>3.7 after a few years of college), I imagine you'll be the successful applicant and they'll be reapplying or switching career paths. When I look at my med school classmates, they are (much like bigreddawgie said) smart, driven, involved, and fun to hang out with. There truly aren't many people who practically lived at the library, were really bookish/nerdy, only cared about school, etc as you're suggesting your peers are.

    Will charisma get you everywhere? Heck no. Will you be a unique applicant because you have grades and a social life and are involved with ECs? Heck no. But as far as I can tell, you'll be in a better position than those who lack charisma or experience.
  • mathsciencedudemathsciencedude Posts: 1,802Registered User Member
    That stinks. I have oh so much charisma.
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Posts: 12,833Registered User Senior Member
    charisma is important for interview, do not underestimate, Getting invited to interview is another story. Cannot show your charisma unless you are invited, sorry! As usual agree with Kristin: " Will you be a unique applicant because you have grades and a social life and are involved with ECs? Heck no" - very true, plenty of very social and very talented in many areas people, was evident watching their musical last year - fundraiser for free Clinic. Looking forward to the same even this year. D. is on a keyboard, but she is not the only one with this skill, they alternate. She had great fun last year as she did not have previous experience playing with the band. Lots of amazing giutar players, keyboard people, singers, dancers, fun costumes and the whole thing was created by students including all lyrics, we were impressed.
  • mathsciencedudemathsciencedude Posts: 1,802Registered User Member
    Just kidding, I have no charisma
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Posts: 9,762Registered User Senior Member
    I'm with limabeans. Hope you mean relevant ECs, not just social activities.
  • SomersetSomerset Posts: 22Registered User New Member
    GPA and MCAT are the foundation of your application. Don't sacrifice either for EC's.
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