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Do Extra-Curriculars and Internships matter for grad school?

  1. May 26, 2014 #1


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    I just looked Physics graduate admission application guidelines on websites of various US and other International universities. There wasn't any mention of Extracurricular activities at all, unlike undergrad applications which use them as a crucial factor for admission decisions. Do they matter at all? Or should I just focus on grades and research during my undergraduate studies?

    Secondly, what about internships? I have looked up a lot of good organizations in my country and abroad where I think doing internships will prove to be very educational and constructive including the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and the Perimeter Institute in Canada and I plan to apply there. Will that help at all in my graduate application?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 26, 2014 #2
    No. Unless you mean extracurricular science research with a professor or an internship at a research lab.
  4. May 26, 2014 #3


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    Most extra-curricular activities won't make much of a difference in terms of your ranking within your pool of applicants. But there are some exceptions. An example of an exception might be experience with a competitive engineering team. Having a statement in a reference letter that's supported by specific, practical examples of innovative thinking and industriousness can affect where a student is ranked.

    Also, it's important to remember that admission to graduate school is a single milestone in your life. Extra-curricular activities may not give you a relevant bullet on your CV. But if they enable you to relax more during your down time, sleep better, or focus more when you are studying, then obviously those will help you to bolster those measurable quantities that do count towards admission.

    Along those lines too, extra-curricular activities are often what help students get jobs when they eventually leave academia. Taking part in clubs, volunteering, mentoring... these all can build skills that are extremely important to employers. And they give you tangible experience to draw on during job interviews.
  5. May 27, 2014 #4


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    Thank you. What about internships? Like the kind of ones I mentioned? Do grad schools take that into account?
  6. May 27, 2014 #5
    For some high octane fellowships available for new grad students that might tip the scale for you in picking one grad school over the other, extra-curriculars that indicate leadership character (I'm sure you can think of a few) and such will help you a lot (Fulbright is one example). I would presume in very competitive programs it might help you stand out from a group of potential admits that have similar grades, test scores, letters, etc.

    An internship that isn't spent doing research or something that would be otherwise useful for grad school is probably not going to help. The type you mentioned would if that's the field you want to go into, but they are extremely competitive programs so do not apply to just two.
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