What is a Passion Project and Do I Need One?

What is a Passion Project and Do I Need One?

What is it?

Passion projects are independent endeavors, likely separate from any school-related club, sport, or team. This is something you’ve built on your own time, with your own initiative. It’s a way to demonstrate a specialized skill or interest. They should have a direct link to your personal background, future career goal, or a specific social issue you’ve made your personal cause. 

Some examples of passion projects:

  1. Launching a podcast about unsung women in STEM
  2. Developing a sustainable fashion line
  3. Driving a community education initiative around native land

Do I need one?

The short answer is no!

…unless you are dead set on an ivy or a top 20 school. 

Even then, you may be wasting your energy. Unless! You find something very authentic to your background or future goals, can dedicate a lot of time and resources, and can demonstrate significant impact (backed by data) as a result of your efforts. If you are in the 1% of students who really want to take on a passion project, make sure it’s something you can get super excited about! In order to prove your passion project was successful, you’ll want to showcase the data. For example, how many sales did your company make? How many kids received free lunches? What’s the follower count on your creator page?

That sounds like a lot to ask of a senior in high school.

Most colleges are not looking for passion projects. If you want to stand out to competitive schools, you can:

  1. Lean into leadership roles. Be a team captain, run for student government, start a club! Become a leader within the activities you are already doing. 
  1. Find clubs, classes, and hobbies that best align with your future goals. Want to be a filmmaker? Join a movie-goers club and take camerawork classes. Activities in your community and online groups are great options for finding niche clubs.
  1. Focus on your application strategy to best position your existing accomplishments in your essays and activity descriptions. Write about your hobbies and activities in a way that highlights your passion. 

Here’s the deal. Instead of spending your energy on a potentially time-and-resource-consuming new thing, make your existing story work harder for you. After all, nothing is as authentic as your unique story! Uncover your best narrative with ESAI’s tools to get started. 

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