What Pre-Med Extracurriculars Are Ivy League Students Doing Right Now?: A LinkedIn Analysis

Applying to pre-med school takes more than simply having top grades and competitive test scores. Extracurriculars can help distinguish pre-med applicants during the admissions process and show they are passionate about the medical field. The pre-health track is incredibly competitive no matter the school you apply to, and these activities demonstrate a commitment to medical studies beyond the classroom.

Of course, not every extracurricular will make sense for pre-med students who are serious about gaining experience. The best noncollegiate activities for these students are ones that help them practice and refine the AAMC competencies that we discuss in more detail here.

With so many extracurricular activities to choose from, we realize it can be difficult to narrow it down to the few that can resonate with admissions the most (and fit into your demanding schedule). We believe that by understanding what activities pre-med students at ivy league universities are doing right now, you can better understand which ones schools value in general (but always remember that the extracurriculars you choose must also be enjoyable for you). 

Why Ivy?

There is no denying that incredible doctors come out of every school. That being said, for our purposes, we choose to look at pre-med students who attended Ivy League Universities because looking at the top can be beneficial to every student (but keep in mind that a true passion for medicine is what really determines the success of your career).

Students at elite schools have some of the best resources available, unbiased advisors, and (objectively) some of the best success rates when it comes to having students attend medical school. We believe that by researching the real profiles of Ivy League students, you can gain the best insight into the extracurriculars that may help your career the most and stand out when applying to medical school.

Concentrate Your Efforts

Shadow 20+ hrs per week over summer/winter break, focus on grades during the year, and stand out to medical schools.

How Shadowing Programs Work

Our Methodology

It is no secret that LinkedIn is the top resource hub for working professionals to network, and more importantly for our case, share their experiences at school and work. However, we also know it can be difficult for busy pre-med students to analyze dozens of profiles for the information that is most relevant to them.

We searched for students on LinkedIn that attend the top Ivy League schools that are known for their pre-med programs (Yale, Stanford, Columbia) to see the extracurriculars they highlight. Note that, for privacy, we will (1) never mention individual profiles and (2) never mention trends that are so unique that their source would be easily identifiable. 

Keep in mind also that not everyone’s extracurriculars are listed on LinkedIn and that these numbers may slightly understate the percentages.

Starting With The Facts

We found just over two dozen profiles on LinkedIn that matched our criteria. After analyzing them, we found the majority of these Ivy League pre-med students participated in extracurriculars that fit into four distinct buckets: Research (60%), Volunteer Work (40%), Science Competitions (25%), Internships (32%).

Let’s explore each in turn.

Research (60%)

After analyzing the LinkedIn profiles of dozens of Ivy League pre-med students, the most common theme among their extracurriculars was research. The majority of these students are participating in undergraduate research at their university and highlighting their experience on the professional networking site.

More specifically, pre-meds are working under the guidance of a professor at these prestigious schools to compile and analyze data in the medical field. Most of these students are researching a topic in the medical field that they are passionate about and that is related to their majors, such as biological anthropology or inflammasome therapy. Yale advisors explain that “Research opportunities in the medical school range from basic research in biology and biochemistry to epidemiological research involving the transmission of tropical diseases.” 

There’s truly a research opportunity tailored to a student’s interest. The outcomes from this experience can include specific publications, proposed treatments, and datasets that serve as the foundation of their career in medicine.

Many of these pre-med students are participating in undergraduate research during their sophomore and/or junior year of school. By this time, students have an understanding of the health niche they are the most interested in and can find a research opportunity that helps them gain more experience working with it.

(As an aside, studying abroad can also help students explore their particular interests and passions in a safe, research-drive, and hands-on environment. A large share of our alumni went abroad with us earlier in college, and that is because Atlantis programs come in many lengths and are always during breaks such as summer break or winter break, fitting into many schedules regardless of your class year.)

Volunteer Work (40%)

Another commonality between the extracurriculars of Ivy League pre-meds is volunteer work. The majority of profiles we reviewed included current participation in not-for-profit experiences. This may not come as a surprise, but most pre-med students we profiled are currently volunteering in the medical field or at hospitals. Many students are volunteer EMTs to help meet the emergency response needs of their campus and the surrounding community.

Other students are volunteering at medical centers and emergency rooms. Remember, however, that pre-meds are not licensed to provide medical care yet. Most volunteer their time to help these facilities manage intake and patient requests. They may also help patrol the facilities and answer requests from patients, assist nurses and doctors with certain tasks (such as ensuring the cleanliness of the facility), and sort through paperwork.

Pre-med students volunteer their time throughout their time at university. Consider this extracurricular during a semester or year where you have the time to devote to helping in the medical field, making connections, and gaining experience. While volunteer positions are typically unpaid and unaccredited, they can be great to put on your resume when applying for internships, jobs, and graduate programs.

Science Competitions (25%)

Many universities (not just those in the Ivy League) have clubs and societies that can help pre-med students gain recognition for their work and contributions. While these are important extracurriculars in their own right, a handful of pre-med students at top institutions are highlighting their achievements made possible by joining these organizations.

According to Princeton advisors “Science competitions, can be the pinnacle of a pre-med scholar’s extracurricular portfolio. Through these events, students conduct experiments, independent research, and more, either independently or on teams, showing off their scientific prowess.”

If you are in your first year of school and have yet to obtain a leadership position or opportunity to attend a science/research competition, still consider joining a club or society and including it as part of your LinkedIn profile.

Winning awards or having a leadership role are not the only things these pre-meds promote. Throughout their experience with competitions and clubs, they discuss the impact they are making on the organization and how it helps them hone their interpersonal and science AAMC competencies.

Internships (32%)

Internships are something that nearly every pre-med student at an Ivy League institution has completed or needs to complete, so it is no surprise that it is a common theme among their LinkedIn profiles (though it’s important to note that since the profiles are of current students, many may be planning on studying abroad but have not yet, so this number is likely higher for graduates).

From healthcare startups to regional hospitals and private labs, pre-med students are currently interning in niche positions in the medical field that align with their major and career goals. Internships, and especially physician shadowing, provide invaluable experience for students who are serious about medicine.

Incidentally, we have discovered that more than one out of every ten U.S. pre-health advisors has visited in-person one or more of Atlantis’ study abroad programs in Europe and beyond. As an alternative to an internship, this more flexible program still helps pre-med students gain real-world experience and improve their AAMC competencies while abroad.

Atlantis: the Leader in Pre-Health Shadowing

Encounter exciting specialties & prove your cultural competence to med schools through AAMC-compliant shadowing abroad.

Keep Updated on Opportunities

About Atlantis

For almost 15 years, Atlantis has earned the distinction of being a global leader in healthcare experiential education. Atlantis partners with hospitals to provide clinical shadowing for U.S. pre-health students. Offering programs primarily in Europe, Atlantis connects students with top hospitals in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, and elsewhere. During their academic break, participants shadow 20+ hours per week (for 1-10 weeks), developing the AAMC Core Competencies and setting themselves apart on their medical/PA school applications. Our mission is to equip the next generation of healthcare leaders with experiences that create a lifelong passion for medicine.

Interested in taking full advantage of clinical shadowing? Explore international opportunities with Atlantis by starting your application process today!

Atlantis does not imply an endorsement from these institutions; however, it seeks to disseminate important truths about medical admissions to as many pre-health students as possible, in order to help students navigate the often stressful pre-health path