Along with considering your academic record, medical school admissions committees want to see that potential applicants are well-rounded individuals. Participating in extra-curricular activities is mandatory and extremely important for gaining valuable points on your application.
One way to take part in these activities and develop necessary qualities and skills is by volunteering. Despite popular belief, volunteer experience does not have to be related to health or medicine in any way for it to be meaningful and valuable on your application. Having that said, it is important to immerse yourself in a health-related environment prior to applying to medical school to ensure that you would be comfortable in a future medical career. All volunteer positions should allow one to gain diverse life experiences by working with a wide range of individuals and environments. Ultimately, your volunteering experience should consist of activities that you genuinely enjoy doing and that make a statement about the type of person that you are. It is so much more important to spend time doing activities that you enjoy rather than doing something that you think a medical school committee will want to see on your application. Take part in activities and causes that are meaningful to you and that you are passionate about - this will not only improve your non-academic score, it will also open your eyes to the different opportunities available in your community and elsewhere, just in case you do not happen to reach your goal of becoming a doctor. Overall, volunteering is a great way to gain a variety of new life experiences that will allow you to grow and develop a variety of different skills that will be useful in life – not just for getting into medical school.
Although some medical schools allow applicants to list activities that are done after the age of 16, most require that the activities included in an application are post-high school. UBC requires applicants to further categorize their activities under the following five headings: leadership, service ethic, capacity to work with others, diversity of experience and high performance in an area of human endeavour. The admissions committee almost always ranks activities with long-term commitments with a higher degree of responsibility much greater than activities with short-term commitments with a minimal degree of responsibility. Admissions also like to see students obtain extra-curricular positions where there is the opportunity to develop and demonstrate leadership, and perhaps advance in position. Further, the UBC admissions committee stresses that no preference is given to students who volunteer or work abroad compared to volunteering or working in one’s local community. Thus, although travelling is a great experience that offers the opportunity for personal growth and significant diversity to your application, travelling and volunteering abroad will not guarantee a greater score on your medical school application.
Because admission committees realize that medical school applicants are comprised of a diverse group of students with various socioeconomic backgrounds, extracurricular activities are not strictly limited to volunteer positions. Paid positions and work experience may also be included on your medical school application. Having an executive position as a member of the many student clubs or associations found at UFV is another way to develop leadership and to get involved with the school and other students.
Each activity that is listed on your application requires the contact information of a “verifier” that may be contacted at any time after your application has been sent in. This is to confirm your involvement in a particular activity. Be sure to contact your verifier ahead of sending in your application to ensure that you both have consistent information regarding your responsibilities and the length of your involvement in the position. Keep on this task throughout your undergrad to save yourself a great deal of work at the end- it can sneak up on you!
For more information about volunteer opportunities at UFV contact Michelle Rickaby at the UFV International Student office (email@example.com) or you can also visit their Facebook page titled: UFV Volunteer to Work 2010. Check our PMSA website for ongoing volunteer opportunities in UFV and the community, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a personal appointment to get started. There are also other databases available online that contain the possible volunteer positions available in your community, such as www.Volweb.ca or www.volunteerabbotsford.ca.
For more information about the many student run organizations running at UFV, visit http://www.ufv.ca/studentlife/