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Value of "religious" extracurricular activities on applications?

  1. Aug 17, 2014 #1
    Greetings fellow PFers,

    I just have a few questions about graduate school applications. I have a reasonable application as far as LoRs, grades, research experiences, etc. but I think there's one thing that may be my downfall: extracurricular activities. I've done a few small things like physics club and astronomy club, but in both of those I was the only member so I didn't hang around long.

    The main thing that I participate in outside of school is church-related activities. I attend and sometimes help lead a Bible study and help out at the food pantry as well as sing in the choir and volunteer wherever I'm needed. I'm a bit torn on whether or not to include these on my application. Maybe they show leadership potential or good character or something, but at the same time I'm wondering if admissions committee members will be biased against someone religious participating in the sciences.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2014 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Two things.

    1) For graduate school, nobody cares about extracurricular activities.
    2) You should be talking to your advisor about grad school, so he can tell you thinks like #1.
  4. Aug 17, 2014 #3
    Yeah, they don't care a whit about extracurricular activities for grad school. I don't think it's typical to put any of them down regardless of what they have to do with.

    (if you did, for some reason decide to put down a list of activities, which I don't think anyone does, the only way they might hold those activities against you is if they thought you might devote more time to running around doing those religious club things than on physics hah.)

    Applying to grad school is nothing like applying to undergrad.

    Although stuff like attending physics conferences and working on summer projects in physics and so on is a different story, put all that kinda stuff down.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
  5. Aug 17, 2014 #4


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    The extra-curricular activities that may be an exception (i.e. might hold some weight) include things like participating in an engineering competition that has allowed you to develop a relevant skill set to your graduate study. While singing in a choir can have benefits such as providing you with quality down time, or helping you to feel good about yourself, because the skills don't directly translate to graduate study, an admissions committee is generally going to view them with indifference.

    As to whether anyone will penalize you for religious beliefs... they can't in any official capacity. You are dealing with human beings of course, who can be subject to unofficial prejudices though, but not all professors are Richard Dawkins. I wouldn't worry about it.
  6. Aug 17, 2014 #5


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    I would expect nobody cares much about what you do in your personal life, so long as it's legal and it stays outside the faculty door.

    But if you mention something in your application, that might suggest it isn't going to stay outside the door, and that could be an issue.

    As Choppy said, overt discrimination is most likely illegal - but if there are ten applicants for one place, it's not illegal to reject nine out of 10 for some reason or other. You just have to make sure the paperwork can't be legally challenged.
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