The only thing I can think of is scholarship application. But how much do scholarship committees look at extracurricular activities? Do they look for the positions that you held?

Frankly I'm very weak at extracurricular activities and don't know what to do.

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    Could you be a little more specific about "person in academia"? This question feels different to me for e.g. an undergraduate hoping to go to grad school than it does for a tenure-track professor. – D.Salo Nov 7 '15 at 0:22
  • Well maybe for both kinds of people? I do want to be a professor but I know it's very hard. – snsunx Nov 7 '15 at 0:43
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    Please don't feel that you have to run right out and join a club and run for president or treasurer. But you know, it might not be a bad idea for you to think a little bit about how you might collaborate with some like-minded people to pursue a hobby, or make the world a slightly better place. You could start by looking over the list of clubs at your university. You'll be amazed at the tremendous variety that is available. Note that you need not be an extrovert to be part of a club. There are clubs where introverts can be comfortable -- although you might not find one on the first try. – aparente001 Nov 7 '15 at 2:37

In academia, the most crucial aspect of your application are your qualifications.

However, extracurricular activities can give your job application a personal note, and make you stand out from the crowd of applicants with similar qualifications. Stating your hobbies (e.g. hiking, or playing the guitar at a decent skill level) will give the person who screens the applications a bit of an image of you as a person, instead of just ticking off the requirements.

Especially for scholarship applications this can be helpful, since many organisations don't only look at qualifications, but also at the person that they will support over the next years.


I think this would depend on your meaning of "extracurricular". In terms of having photography as a hobby, I am not sure how that would help. However, for faculty, extracurricular activities that benefit the university have been well discussed on academia SE, for example, serving as a reviewer on a journal. Other activities that could be seen as beneficial is volunteering for a first robotics at the local school (if the university if public, that may be more important for secondary education), or organizing a TEDx event.

In general, I would view the reason anyone would care about extracurricular activities is for students; how does it make the student more diverse, more capable, more knowledgable, easier to work with, etc. And for faculty; how does it make the faculty represent the university better, improve student or research connections, make their own research more interesting, etc.


The answer to this question depends on the country you live in. In most European countries extracurriculars carry little weight. If there are several applicants who are very close together in terms of academic merits, people active in welfare are preferred, as such behaviour is usually correlated with general social skills. I have no personal experience in the US, but it is "common knowledge" that extracurriculars are more important there, especially in early stages of your career.


It depends on the type of position you are aiming for, and the type of extra-curricular activities.

If you have served on committees in the past, it is reasonable to form a belief that it is in your nature to be a person who can readily be persuaded to serve on committees in the future, relieving others of the need to do so.

Given the tendency of documents listing such activities to be read by those presently serving on some committee, such a belief may engender sympathy (or other, less noble emotions).

Athletic activities may suggest a dangerous ability to run away too fast.

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