Passion Project Ideas to Strengthen Your College Applications

High school student writing down passion project ideas in a notebook
August 28, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 01/10/23

Are you looking for ways to strengthen your college application? Look no further! This article will give you 15 great passion project ideas that will be interesting and help you with college applications. Keep reading for more!


Passion projects are not always the first thing you think of including in your college applications. However, passion projects reveal a lot about your interests and strengths. Following through with a meaningful passion project can ultimately benefit your college application and help you stand out during admissions.

This article aims to share some great ideas for a passion project and understand why they are important for college applications. By the end of this article, you will have a better idea of what passion projects you might like to pursue before college!

Let’s get started!

15 Passion Project Ideas for High Schoolers

Here are 15 innovative passion project ideas for high school students applying for college.

Plant A Community Garden

A community garden is a wonderful way to connect with people around you and do some good. This passion project will show that you can plan for the future while giving back to your community.

Start A Small Business or NGO

Starting a small business takes a lot of work but could be very rewarding. Turning one of your hobbies into a small business would be a great idea and shows that you’re dedicated, resourceful, and possess great organizational skills!

Throw a Fundraiser for a Worthy Cause

Throwing a fundraiser takes a lot of planning and organizational skills. This is a wonderful way of showing your passion for a particular cause and your ability to take on a large project.

Tutor Underserved Children in Your Community

Tutoring is great for students who are passionate about education and might want to go into teaching. This passion project would show colleges your ability to teach others and your dedication to bettering your community.

Teach Seniors About Technology

This passion project idea is great for those looking to go into teaching or technology. It will take some organization and excellent people skills to get started. You’ll also have an opportunity to learn a lot from your interactions with seniors.

Launch a Blog on a Topic That Interests You

By writing a blog, you are showing your tech skills and your writing ability. Pick a topic that truly interests you, as this will allow you to share what you love in your college application. Writing about something you’re passionate about is more likely to showcase your intellect, passion, and perspective. 

Mural Project

Producing a large-scale art project can take time and organization, which is why it is perfect for a passion project. See if your school has a need for a mural and propose a plan to your principal. This passion project idea is excellent for students going into the arts.

Produce a Documentary on A Community Issue

Does your community have an ongoing issue you’ve always been fascinated by? If so, try to make a documentary about it! You can start by conducting some with people surrounding the topic. 

Producing a documentary will show schools your ability to plan, organize and execute a project and would be a wonderful addition to your college application.

Tutor or Teach Non-Native English Speakers

If you live in a community with a lot of English language learners who need help learning or practicing their English, set up a tutoring service to do just that. Taking the initiative to help others is always good to show prospective schools.

Organize a Clean-Up Day Around Your School or Community

By organizing a clean-up day for your school or community, you are showing your dedication to the environment and the community. It is also a great way to give back!

Conduct Research 

If you’re passionate about science or humanities, consider doing a research project. This will show schools that you are ready for college-style learning and that you can work well independently.

Conducting research on a topic you’re curious about also shows great initiative and dedication in your application. 

Gather and Distribute Holiday Gifts to Homeless Shelters or Underserved Communities

This project shows your ability to plan, organize, and coordinate with others while doing some good. In addition to gifts, you can also distribute clothing, blankets, toys, and food depending on the community’s needs!

Create A Student Buddies Program

A student buddies program is when senior students get paired with first-year students to help them acclimatize to high school and also help prevent bullying. This will show schools your ability to organize a large program and allow you to flex your leadership skills.

Create a Peer Tutoring Program

Similarly to the student buddies program, this passion project will help you show your ability to organize a student organization. 

Run Errands for Seniors or People With Disabilities

This passion project will take a lot of organization and coordination of people. It can show schools that you are dedicated to helping people in your community.

How to Start Your Passion Project

If you are still trying to decide which passion project idea is right for you, here are some tips to get you started!

Tip 1: Consider Your Passions

When trying to figure out which passion project to do, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your favorite subject in school?
  • What skills come naturally to you?
  • What’s a topic that makes you excited?

These questions help you narrow down what topics you are most interested in and what type of project you will enjoy doing. You want to pick something that you are good at, and that will spark your interest.

Tip 2: Set Your Goal

Once you know what project you’ll be doing, you need to develop an overall goal for the project. Answering the following questions can help:

  • What do you want to accomplish, and how will you know when you’ve done what you’ve set out to do?
  • How will you stay on track?
  • Who is your target audience, or who do you want to help?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a better idea of how to approach the project.

Tip 3: Gather Resources

Now that you know more about what you’re doing, it is time to figure out how you are going to accomplish the passion project. 

Coming up with a list of resources you’ll need is a good way to start the planning, as it will be clear where you need to begin. Make sure to be thorough with your list so that it is completely clear what resources you need to start the project and what you’ll need throughout the process.

Tip 4: Find a Mentor

Before getting started, see if there is someone who could give you advice or become a mentor for your passion project. For example, if you’re conducting research, you can ask a teacher to help you better understand the subject and guide your project. 

While a mentor is not necessary to pursue a passion project, having someone you can go to when you have questions can be a great asset.

The above tips can help you pick and accomplish a passion project idea for college applications that will help you get into the school of your dreams.

How Does a Passion Project Help With College Applications?

There are certain personality traits that colleges look for when choosing students for their school. Pursuing a passion project is a great way to show off the following traits in your college application: 

  • Drive
  • Initiative 
  • Intellectual curiosity and being a lifelong learner
  • Contribution to the community
  • Diversity of experience

By taking on a passion project, you are showing these different personality traits to schools which can help you stand out from other applicants. A well-planned and executed passion project can make your application unique, ultimately making you a more competitive candidate.

FAQs: Passion Projects in High School

Now that we've covered passion project ideas, tips on how to get started, and the benefits of pursuing a passion project in high school, we'll go over some FAQs to answer some questions you might still have about high school passion projects.

1. What is a Passion Project for High School Students?

A passion project is a project that someone gets involved with because they love it. A passion project for high school students can be done on their own time without being graded or associated with an organization. 

A high school student would do the work independently and then would be able to add this to their college application resume.

2. What are Some Good Topics for a Passion Project?

Some good ideas for a passion project are:

  • Initiating a community project
  • Developing a website
  • Tutor younger students

Regardless of what project you choose, ensure that it’s something that highlights your strengths and skills and, of course, something you’re passionate about.

3. Do Passion Projects Help With College Applications?

Yes, having a passion project helps you stand out from other applicants. Additionally, they demonstrate that you have the capacity to add to their college community as you will be showing a lot of your skills in a new and interesting way.

Final Thoughts

Passion projects for high school students can be very helpful when applying to college. Not only can they help with your application–you might also learn a little bit more about yourself and what you want to do. At the end of the day, a passion project is a great way to spend your time while boosting your college application!

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