#9 – Hobbies and interests. As you probably know, you’re not competing against the applicant pool, but against people with your “profile.” Schools want diversity, so if you are an overrepresented candidate, it’s very important for you to demonstrate uniqueness and well-roundedness.
Here’s an example. In essays, Indians often discuss their leadership role on the cricket team at university. However, I wish I had a dime for every essay I’ve read by a former Indian cricket captain. It isn’t going to separate you much from the competition. Put the focus on on interests and activities that really separate you from other people with your “profile.”
Don’t run out and take up a bunch of new hobbies, because that will send up a red flag with the adcom. However, increase your participation in a hobby that 1) separates you from other people with your profile and 2) you can speak about honestly in an interview situation. For example, one of my Indian applicants was a champion equestrian and coached him to discuss this somewhere in his application.
If possible, use one of your essays to discuss a hobby that would add an interesting dimension to the class. Applicants often fixate on the GMAT, but overlook other ways to set themselves apart. Don’t miss this opportunity.