If you're a high school student and anything like me, you’ve spent a lot of nights binge watching compilations of Dorm Moves Ins from UCLA to Cambridge University. I enjoy watching how students choose to set up their decor, move around their bed frame, and take leisurely walks around their campus. As I watch these videos of students who are a part of these very prestigious schools, I question just what they did to become a member.
For reference, Harvard University’s class of 2026 had a record low acceptance rate of 4.59%, the first time in its history for the percentage to stoop below 5. In a pool of 42,729 applicants, a small sliver of individuals were selected to attend this institute.
Assuming all of the high school students who applied were at some degree of qualification, what few out of thousands have what it takes? What did these specific applications attain that made admissions officers go “oh yeah, they’re in!”?
According to Acceptitas, a consulting program for high school students, conducted a poll on 100 Harvard students. The results were that 77% pursued a passion project in high school, and 85% of them believed that the project improved their application.
A passion project is a student-led organization or initiative that has a certain goal or mission it's aiming to achieve. This project is independent from school, and done entirely off their own idea. The topic inspires the student and motivates them to delve into their creative minds to make a substantial impact on said topic. Further, this project isn’t like a typical assignment done for school. It can exemplify esteemed characteristics of a student, such as leadership, resourcefulness, and determination. Colleges have shown to admire this aspect of applications considering its difficulty in starting up and staying successful.
This activity can take the form of many shapes and sizes. Writing a book, creating a non-profit, getting published on a research paper, the list goes on.
At first glance, building a passion project seems like a very daunting task. However, I think the hardest part is getting started. But once you cross the finish line, the process can be very rewarding. Here are some very broad steps to starting your project:
1. Your passion(s)
When you get to school, what class are you most looking forward to? What topics really spark your interest? When studying a certain subject, do you enjoy it? Find an area of learning that really fascinates you, that you can build off of or make an influence in that community.
For some, it may be difficult pinpointing just one field of interest. If you have multiple passions, maybe try to collaborate and combine fields.
2. Get ready for takeoff
How will you make a change? Now that you know your passion, plan on how you will take action. These questions may help you decide how you want your project to go:
How am I going to reach my community?(online, live events)
What kind of resources/connections do I need?
Why am I pursuing this specific passion?
DO! Whatever this may look like. If it's going to events or finishing a portion of an outline, start making progress.
For this year’s LOUDwomen Ambassador cycle, I have the privilege of reading incredible posts on facets of leadership and education. I plan on continuing to learn and grow from the leaders around me. I hope you takeaway that you can become a leader just by showing the world your diverse and intricate passions.
Mount St. Mary's
Little Rock, AR