As you may already know, applying to medical school is a process that requires a lot of preparation; not only because a good GPA and MCAT score is essential, but because you have to decide how to present yourself so that you can stand out from the other applicants. Including hobbies in your medical school application allows you to share with the admission committee what you love doing and what has shaped you and your character throughout your life. From cheerleading to playing the piano, hobbies come in all shapes and forms. They can provide you with values and ways of thinking that help you develop as a person, student, and professional.
Good grades and a good MCAT score are not the whole equation. In fact, along with satisfying all the required coursework, they are just the essential criteria, meaning that they are strictly necessary to be considered for admission.
Medical schools consider the academic part of your application a given, but they want to get to know the person behind the GPA and the MCAT score.
The AMCAS application comprises nine sections: background information, coursework, work and activities, letters of evaluation, medical schools, essays, and standardized tests. You can include up to 15 experiences under the “work and activities” section; this is where your hobbies will go.
While it’s not mandatory for you to include hobbies in your medical school application, these kinds of activities show your passions and who you are after all the work is done. Remember that hobbies are not school or work, or any responsibility; hobbies are activities that you engage in because you enjoy them and they give you valuable, usually intangible rewards.
Your hobbies make you a well-rounded individual, and knowing how to find a balance between work and free time is a crucial aspect of life. Being devoted to working is fine, but if you can show both sides of yourself to the admission committee, they will gain a good impression of you. Medical schools are looking for real people, human beings who can be future generations' health care providers; good grades are not all there is.
Hobbies for your medical school application are important because they show the relatable part of you; the admission committee wants to learn about your human side as well, not only about you as a student and professional.
As mentioned earlier, in your medical school application you can include up to 15 experiences, some of which can be hobbies. However, it’s important to focus on only significant hobbies – those that have made a difference in how you view the world and how you interact with people.
In this section, we’re going to discuss some of the most popular hobbies to include and each one’s strengths and limitations.
The most typical hobbies students include in their medical school application are hobbies surrounding athletics and exercise. These are common because many kids start practicing a sport in school, and they continue to do so as they make their way through college. As a future health care provider, it’s a good idea to talk about a physical hobby you may have, which will show that taking care of yourself is one of your main interests. Some sports might include team sports like football or basketball, individual sports like running or swimming, or even hiking or biking. Each of them is different and can bring diverse values to the table. Even though many applicants may talk about sports-related hobbies, it’s up to you to make your entries original and personal; use your imagination!
Another very common hobby students list in their medical school application is playing an instrument. Including not only a physical hobby but also one that stimulates your mind will immediately make you a well-rounded, competitive candidate. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “healthy mind in a healthy body”; medical schools value the fact that you think both aspects of health are equally important and you take good care of them.
Another hobby to include in your medical school application is traveling. If that’s something you’re passionate about and have enough experience to widely and comfortably talk about it, it will make a good impression. Traveling and all it involves makes you a conscious human being and expands your worldview. New experiences, new cultures, new people; these are all things that help you grow as a person and make you a lifelong learner. Being open-minded and culturally educated is a sign that you are tolerant, adaptable, and will be able to do an outstanding job as a health practitioner in the future – interacting, understanding, and empathizing with the diverse people that will be your patients.
Apart from the hobbies mentioned above, any other passions and activities you think contribute to your personal growth can be included in your application. Maybe you’ve been cooking or baking your whole life, which has brought you a sense of responsibility. Perhaps it has brought you close to your family and has taught you values on bringing people together. You might also be an artist. Maybe you paint, write, or draw. Or maybe you’re even a content creator on a social media platform. Remember that your creativity says a lot about who you are as a person, so those are great and unique hobbies you might want to consider adding to your application.
Many students struggle when it comes to choosing the activities to include as hobbies for their medical school applications, so here are several things to consider.
First of all, choose activities that are truly significant to you. If you’re doubting about whether to include a hobby or not, ask yourself if it’s actually a meaningful activity. Has it taught you values? Has it helped you realize you want to pursue a career as a doctor?
Second, include only activities where you have demonstrated a significant time commitment. Including finishing as a hobby, for example, when you’ve only done it three times isn’t going to impress the admission committee. Talk about long-lasting activities that have shaped you throughout the years.
Third, pick hobbies you can confidently talk about and reflect on. What you learn from them and how they contribute to your personal growth are things that you should be able to include when you write about your hobbies.
And last but not least, keep in mind that you can include any hobby, no matter how weird or special it is. Hobbies come in all shapes and forms, and as long as it makes sense to you and fits the requirements of what medical schools are looking for, it will be useful to include in your application.
Whatever your hobbies are, what truly matters is how good you are at using them to your advantage for your medical school application. While the word “hobby” might trigger informal and casual language, you should keep in mind that you’re not talking about your hobbies to a friend, you’re writing about them in your medical school application.
Think about and reflect on the following questions for a minute:
- What hobbies contribute to either personal, social, or educational growth?
- What values have your hobbies taught you throughout the years?
- How can you strategically use your hobbies to your advantage?
- How have your hobbies made you a different person? Would you be so selfless today if it weren’t for this recreation? Would you be so emphatic, creative, compassionate…?
These thought-provoking questions will help redirect the focus of your hobbies to what medical schools want to know about you.
For example, if one of your hobbies is a team sport, let’s say basketball, perhaps it has helped you develop a team and community spirit, it has taught you social values and how helping each other is the key to success.
If you enjoy an individual sport like running, the time you invest in it probably not only helps you stay in good shape but also contributes to your mental health and well-being. It enables you to connect and get to know yourself, which will help you interact with others and your community.
To sum up, you can include any activity you are passionate about that you think aligns with who you are and assists you in your way of becoming the person and professional you aim to become. Even watching Netflix or playing video games could be included as your hobbies, but only if there’s a good reason to do so, and you follow the considerations mentioned above. Maybe you enjoy watching documentaries because it helps broaden your knowledge, or playing video games helps you focus and concentrate before you study. Again, focus on the purpose of sharing your hobbies in the context of your medical school application, don’t list an activity just for the sake of it. Portraying your hobbies in the right manner will help you be a competitive applicant, and will let medical schools get to know the person behind the transcript.
Can you include too many hobbies in your AMCAS application? The answer is yes!
Like mentioned earlier, you can include up to 15 experiences, including clinical experience, volunteer experience, research, medical shadowing and hobbies. So, keep in mind that you need a wide and varied range of experiences to talk about. While you can include more than one hobby, it’s recommended that you don’t include more than three, since you’ll need space for the other experiences, too. The key is to focus on quality, not quantity.
A list of hobbies becomes too long when they stop being meaningful. Focus on the activities that have made you, and still, today, make you grow personally, mentally, academically, or physically. Hobbies that contribute to shaping you into a well-rounded individual; a conscious, empathic, selfless, and educated person, are the ones you want to include.
Thinking about it that way, your list of hobbies is probably already narrowing down. Do you only have one meaningful hobby? Geat! Now focus on explaining why it is significant, what it provides you, what has made you stick with it, and the rewards of doing it. Are they personal rewards or social rewards? Does it contribute to your physical health, mental health, perhaps both? Does it contribute to the well-being of society? Does it impact other people? Have you learned values from it? And most importantly, has this hobby contributed to the decision to become a doctor?
How this passion aligns with the fact that you want to attend medical school to become a physician is probably the most critical part. Your list of hobbies becomes too long when you can no longer show the admission committee how your hobby aligns with your decision to become a doctor. Does this mean you can only write about one hobby? No problem! Is it three hobbies? No problem, either. Just focus on how meaningful they are and what they bring to your life. But remember, you only have 15 slots to fit all of your experiences; choose wisely how many of those should be hobbies.
It’s not strictly necessary to include hobbies in your medical school application. Hobbies are included in the “work and activities” section, and as you may have already guessed, you can add work or any activity that is meaningful to you, but that is not a hobby. While it’s recommended that you do so, you shouldn’t feel like you need to. Including hobbies shows your character and who you really are, and medical schools genuinely appreciate this information about you, but it’s not mandatory.
The personal statement essay is also a good place to talk about them; if a hobby is really meaningful to you, you can use that space to elaborate on it and save a slot under “work and activities” for other experiences.
Technically, there’s no limit of hobbies you can include, but you need to be smart about it. Like already mentioned, you can include up to 15 experiences under the “work and activities'' section. The wisest idea would be to include 1 to 3 hobbies, and leave at least 12 spots to talk about other activities that should be prioritized above hobbies, like clinical work or volunteering. AMCAS application experts advise students to “enter only significant experiences since medical schools are interested in quality rather than quantity.”
No. It would be best if you focused on quality rather than quantity. The fact that you can include up to fifteen activities might give you the wrong idea. Still, medical schools will value one meaningful activity over six random hobbies that don’t align or make sense in the context of your application.
Yes. As we mentioned earlier, medical schools want to know you as a person, not just as a student. If you satisfactorily portray them, hobbies show your human and most vulnerable side, which will be highly appreciated by the admission committee. At the end of the day, whether you end up being a good doctor or not depends on this side of you, not on whether you got a perfect grade on a specific class back in college. So, take time to write and elaborate about yourself, your passions, and what makes you human.
Definitely, but try giving it a pinch of yourself. Even if your hobby is playing volleyball, think about how it makes you different and why this sport is so important to you. Focus on what it brings you rather than on the sport itself. That way, it doesn’t matter how cliché it is; you will show in your application how this hobby makes you who you are.
Hobbies for your medical school application are not required but can benefit your chances to stand out. The activities you engage in during your daily life apart from school and your job contribute to your human side and say a lot about who you are and who you aspire to become one day.
You know that you are more than your grades, so sharing your passions is a perfect way to show admissions committees who you are beyond your GPA and MCAT score Medical schools want people, not numbers. Just like doctors are not robots, medical schools don’t make admission decisions based solely on your grades.
Who are you after school or after work? Do you do something that contributes to your well-being or the well-being of your community? Do you take pride in what you do and how it contributes to yourself and the world? Talking about your hobbies is an opportunity for you to show your passions and stand out from other candidates who may have the same transcript as you. Remember, you can have the most cliché hobbies and still be different; it’s what you take and learn from your participation that matters most. Showcase your passions, abilities and strengths, and make your application unique and personal. At the end of the day, that’s who you are!