The Ultimate Guide to Passion Projects for High Schoolers

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    Passion projects for high schoolers are a great way to learn new skills, gain confidence, and delve more fully into your interests. They are also a great way to showcase your strengths and extracurricular interests during the college admissions process. 

    As evidenced by the class of 2026 college acceptance rates, college admissions standards are becoming increasingly competitive. Therefore, if you want to attend a highly-selective college, you’ll need to find a way to stand out from your peers. A passion project is a great way to accomplish this. In fact, according to a study conducted by Acceptitas, more than 75% of current Harvard students included a passion project as a part of their college applications. 

    That said, what are passion projects, and how do you design one? In this article, we will discuss the definition of a passion project, how to start a passion project, as well as the advantages of completing one in high school. We will also provide a comprehensive passion project ideas list to help you start brainstorming for your own project.

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    What are the benefits of completing a Passion Project?

    First off, what is a passion project for students? A passion project is a project that high school students design and complete outside of school. These projects should be fairly ambitious and often require extensive planning and self-reflection. Ultimately a passion project allows you to challenge yourself, develop new skills, and gain confidence; they can even help give you a sense of purpose and community. Since passion projects are not a high school requirement, completing one shows your passion, dedication, and ability to take initiative. Ultimately, these projects can help distinguish you from your peers when applying for jobs, internships, and college. 

    Designing a Passion Project: steps to help you get started

    First off, what is a passion project for students? A passion project is a project that high school students design and complete outside of school. These projects should be fairly ambitious and often require extensive planning and self-reflection. Ultimately a passion project allows you to challenge yourself, develop new skills, and gain confidence; they can even help give you a sense of purpose and community. Since passion projects are not a high school requirement, completing one shows your passion, dedication, and ability to take initiative. Ultimately, these projects can help distinguish you from your peers when applying for jobs, internships, and college. 

    01

    Identify your passion

    You should feel excited to work on your passion project. All projects have challenges and we can’t promise that you’ll enjoy yourself every step of the way, but it’s important to complete this project because you genuinely care about it and not because you feel obligated to. That said, the first step to completing a meaningful passion project is to find out what you’re passionate about!

    02

    Come up with a mission statement to help guide your project

    Your project should be organized and purposeful. One of the best ways to help keep you on track is to come up with a mission statement. That way, you can periodically refer to your goals, values, and objectives as outlined in your mission statement. 

    03

    Set goals for yourself

    Set manageable goals for yourself. Not only will this help you stay organized, but it will also inspire you to maintain your momentum. 

    04

    Identify what resources you will need

    Once you’ve come up with your projects, identify what resources you will need to be successful. For instance, if you want to start a podcast, you will need to decide what kind of recording equipment is best suited to your needs. 

    05

    Reflect on what you need to learn for your project to be successful

    Passion projects are a great way to learn new skills. Take time to identify what you will need to learn to be successful. You may want to consider finding a mentor or setting up informational interviews with community members who can help you. For instance, if you want to start a community garden, you may want to reach out to local farmers for advice. 

    Questions to ask yourself as you begin

    The first step to knowing how to find a passion project that’s meaningful to you is to reflect on your interests, talents, and values. In other words, self-reflection is key in designing your passion project. 

    Let’s take a look at some questions you should ask yourself during this process. As you review these questions, write down your answers so you can reflect on them more fully in the weeks to come. 

    • What extracurricular activities do you enjoy?
    • Which high school classes have been your favorites?
    • What types of careers might you be interested in pursuing in the future?
    • Have you had any meaningful volunteer experiences?
    • Are there any social, political, or environmental issues that you feel passionately about?
    • If you could change anything about the world, what would it be?
    • What are some of your passions and interests?
    • What are some of your natural talents and strengths?
    • What is something you would like to improve on?
    • What is something you’d be interested in learning more about?
    • Do you enjoy leadership positions?
    • Do you prefer to work alone or within a group?
    • Do you enjoy fundraising and organizing events?
    • If you could give back to your community in some way, what would that look like?

    Now that you’ve reflected on your interests, talents, and values, it’s time to start finding ways to combine them. The most meaningful, impactful passion projects will likely combine your answers. To get started, review your answers and identify repeating details or themes. 

    For example, you may find that many of your answers address your love of storytelling and helping others reach their goals. If this is the case, you may want to find ways to include a teaching element in your passion project. 

    Passion Project ideas

    Now that you’ve started to reflect more on your interests, let’s take a look at some passion project examples. Use these examples to help you start brainstorming about possible topics. These passion project examples may even help you decide how to present your passion project when the time comes. 

    • Start a small business
    • Develop an app
    • Organize a fundraising event
    • Write and direct a short play
    • Write a novel or collection of short stories
    • Start a community publication, such as a school newspaper or literary magazine
    • Start a blog
    • Start a band and write an album
    • Learn to build an instrument
    • Design your own video game
    • Paint a community mural
    • Start a mobile library
    • Start a community garden
    • Create a bioblitz
    • Design and conduct a scientific research project
    • Start an apiary
    • Hike the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, or the John Muir Trail
    • Become a certified yoga or fitness instructor
    • Build your own tiny house
    • Start a food truck
    • Build a boat
    • Train a service dog
    • Join a political campaign

    Key takeaways and moving forward

    Passion projects for students can play a key role in holistic college admissions. This is because passion projects demonstrate a student’s ability to think critically and creatively while in pursuit of their extracurricular interests. Top colleges want to admit passionate, capable students eager to make a difference and enrich their communities. This is especially true if you have Ivy League aspirations

    Including a successful passion project as part of your college application can help demonstrate that you are capable of meeting and exceeding these standards. As you begin planning your passion project, keep in mind that the best time to start a passion project is during summer vacation. Starting a passion project is one of the most productive ways to use your summers in high school

    If you are interested in pursuing a passion project but don’t know where to start, reach out to learn how we can help you reach your high school and college goals

    Contact a Prepory college admissions coach and start your college admissions journey.

    Our college admissions experts are here to guide you from where you are to where you should be. Through our comprehensive curriculum, individualized coaching, and online workshops, you are set for success as soon as you connect with us.

    During our initial consultation, we will: 

    • Assess your student’s applicant profile and higher education goals 
    • Provide detailed information about our services and programming
    • Share tips on how to navigate the U.S. college admissions process 

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