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Admissions Extracurriculars For Grad School

  1. Jul 5, 2017 #1
    I am a rising junior and have 0 extracurriculars related to my school. I am planning on applying to a medical physics graduate program but I work in a research lab (BME) and am working on co authoring and authoring two papers total and am actively involved with my religious organization. However what takes the most time from me is the fact that my sister is autistic and I do everything for her. By everything I mean like 75% but i always help her with homework , take her or pick her up from school most days, take care of her physical needs and even sleep with her. My question is if this is enough extracurriculars for graduate school? Should I not mention my sister? She takes up a lot of my time but also I don't want the admissions committee to feel like I have too many obligations at home and won't want to accept me if I want to go out of state. Thank you for the help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2017 #2


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    Your care of your sister is to be commended but omitted entirely from your application.
  4. Jul 6, 2017 #3


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    Graduate admissions committees do not usually place a lot of weight on extra-curricular activities. Whether or not you're president of your school's Physics Society, or were a track athlete, or organised your local folk festival won't make much of a difference in your application. The details will vary from school to school but graduate admissions for medical physics will largely be based on your GPA and the specifics of the coursework, reference letters, Physics GRE scores, and other objective evidence that you'll be successful as a researcher and/or medical physicist such as publications, conference abstracts, or relevant work experience.

    I don't know that I would agree it's necessary to keep your sister omitted from your application entirely though. I think it's okay to mention that you have and have had a greater than normal degree of family commitments. I wouldn't play it up or anything. But it is what it is and a part of who you are.
  5. Jul 6, 2017 #4
    The OP may be able to mention it without mentioning it specifically. I actually think it's relevant, since grad school is not just academically challenging but personally challenging as well. There's a lot of very intelligent people who can't keep up in grad school, and some not-as-intelligent people (like me) who manage to make it out by pure gumption. It's relevant, IMO. Example:

    When I wrote my grad school application, I had just been through 2 family deaths (Dad and granddad) and my wife miscarrying during my senior year. Ihad every right to actually leave school with a full tuition refund under some type of program, but I didn't. My grades obviously were not that great.

    The application process for graduate school included a paragraph we were supposed to write. I didn't mention these things specifically, but I worked in there something about the adversity and challenges I had to overcome in my personal life while attending school and how I thought that made me a good candidate.

    I don't remember how I worded it, but I think I got the point across without actually saying "Here is why my grades are not so great." To be fair, it was also the same place I went to undergrad, so some of the people seeing this application did know the full story and I'm sure that helped.

    My point is that there may be a way to mention it without mentioning it specifically or as an "excuse" for this or that. (Not that it is). If there's some kind of interview process then of course you can mention it.

    -Dave K
  6. Jul 6, 2017 #5
    thank you for the replies! one of the professors which I hope will write me a letter of recommendation does know about my situation so maybe I can ask him to briefly mention it so that grad school also knows about my time management skills and whatnot. Once again thank you so much!
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