Learning doesn’t only happen in the classroom. Modern colleges and universities are encouraging extracurricular activities more than ever before, in a continuing effort to broaden teaching, embrace holistic education, and cultivate comprehensive development.
How Important Are Extracurricular Activities During an MBA Program?
In recent years, a great deal has been said about undergrads using extracurricular activities to improve their chances of getting into the MBA program of their choice. Although there has been less focus on extracurricular activities while pursuing an MBA, extracurricular activities are, or should be, a key part of the colligate experience at all levels.
Study after study has shown that an “all work and no play” mentality is unhealthy and unproductive in the long run. Meeting with a club or devoting time to a hobby is a great way to refresh yourself, reduce overall stress levels, and prevent the burnout that plagues far too many students in demanding and difficult MBA programs.
The advantages of extracurricular activities aren’t limited to helping you get admitted into and then completing an MBA program. Before we examine these specific benefits, let’s take a moment to examine the particulars of extracurricular engagement through a practical lens.
What Are My Extracurricular Options as an MBA Student?
For the average MBA student, there are no shortage of extracurricular activities to choose from. Depending on your interests, availability, lifestyle, experience, and goals, you may want to consider…
- Academic Organizations
- Professional Organizations
- Athletic Programs
- Student Government
- Volunteer and Charity Clubs
- Cultural Groups
- Art Programs
Are There Drawbacks to Pursuing Extracurricular Activities During an MBA Program?
Pursuing an MBA is challenging and time consuming. Devoting extra time to extracurricular activities while keeping up with your studies won’t always be easy and may have negative effects. Just bear in mind that you won’t be able to do everything you’d like to and choose your extracurricular activities wisely. Also remember that the advantages of extracurricular activities far exceed the negatives.
What Are the Benefits of Participating in Extracurricular Activities while Pursuing Your MBA?
1. Explore New Interests and Learn New Skills
Although MBA academic curricula can be rather restrictive, extracurricular activities give you leeway to try things that you are passionate about. Whether it connects directly to your studies or not, you can learn something from extracurricular engagement that will stay with you for the rest of your life. By honing your skills in various areas, you can gain key values and personality traits that will enhance both your professional and personal life in ways that just may surprise you.
2. Improve Academic and Work Performance
The skills you build through extracurricular participation can also boost your academic performance. Among a wealth of research that supports this fact, a Texas A&M University study showed that students who embrace extracurricular activities were significantly more likely to achieve positive academic outcomes and better final grades. From improved memory and critical thinking, to enhanced creativity and problem-solving skills, extracurricular activities can boost academic performance in a variety of ways.
The benefits of extracurricular engagement aren’t limited to the college campus. At minimum, balancing a healthy academic and extracurricular life aids in the development of time management skills, and effective time management is a key trait in successful people of all kinds.
3. Broaden Social Skills and Increase Networking Capabilities
Relationship building and communication skills are areas of development that are particularly helpful in all aspects of professional and personal life. According to Clear Admit MBA admissions expert Alex Brown, the single most important advantage of joining an MBA club or committing to an extracurricular activity is “engaging with like-minded students who are members of the same clubs and therefore share similar interests… as well as potentially networking with leaders in industries in which you are interested.” In short, extracurricular activities offer ample opportunities for networking while sharing ideas and learning from a group of people with common interests. Alex Brown goes on to single out clubs as an essential job search resource. “Some industry-related clubs will develop their own resume guides, conduct mock interviews, and undertake various other activities to compliment the work of career services,” he says.
4. Impress Future Business Partners and Employers
Related to the importance of networking, the value of improving your reputation in your industry or market of choice cannot be underestimated. Whether you want to continue your education or broaden your career horizons, MBA program extracurricular activities do more than simply pad your resume. The key is engaging with extracurricular activities that dovetail with your specific wants, needs, and goals. In the words of Alex Brown, “For some career switchers, the career clubs are very important. While a business plan competition might be a good platform for entrepreneurs, for someone seeking more leadership experiences, a trek up a mountain with other students might be revealing. Those who aspire to develop their cultural intelligence will be more focused on seeking out international trips, maybe even a study abroad program.”
5. Boost Self-Esteem
If you are pursuing your MBA, you likely have a significant aptitude for business as well as academics, but securing your MBA is a daunting task regardless. If you want to be successful in your MBA program and in your unfolding business career, a healthy level of confidence is an absolute must. Extracurricular activities give you a unique opportunity to do something well because you are passionate about it. This is a surefire way to self-awareness, self-satisfaction, and self-esteem. If you develop self-esteem by reaching important goals in a field that you enjoy, you are well on your way to reaching your life goals while maintaining positive mental health and wellbeing.
Finding an MBA Program That Meets Both Your Academic and Your Extracurricular Needs
A good MBA program will match your academic requirements and your lifestyle while advancing you toward your ultimate professional goals, and extracurricular activities are a big piece of that puzzle.
The University of the Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC)’s Gary W. Rollins College of Business offers a number of distinct benefits that go far beyond the classroom. As you make your MBA program choices, you owe it to yourself to take a close look at what the UTC MBA Program has to offer.