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What exactly is a passion project anyway?

When we hear “passion project,” we often think of something wild and ambitious, like raising venture capital for a company or starting a 501C3. In reality, a passion project is simply something outside of school (although it can be academic in nature) that shows admissions officers that you are curious–and that you actively explore that curiosity by digging into the material to find answers. It makes you more interesting, relatable, and memorable.

How to start?

Few students are passionate enough about one thing that they know exactly what they want to do. Some have too many interests, others have no idea. If you have many interests and cannot choose, remember that passion is just curiosity. The idea you start with as a junior may not resonate with you as a senior, but allow it to evolve so you can stick with it and finish your project. Stay curious! Give yourself the freedom to combine different fields.

Not sure what you are interested in? Experiment and make a list of everything you are definitely not interested in! Keep writing until you have nothing left. Everything not on the list can be an idea for your project. These projects can help you learn about yourself by going through the process.

Don’t worry about it not being “scholarly.” Any of your outside interests qualify as a starting point, including video gaming. You can find leadership in your videogame community by creating a tournament, first in your school, then expanding it. Even better, explore the building of games, the storytelling elements, how a game goes from idea to production, who the collaborators that start a game are. How do they make money? What is the business model? Write about the future of that game. Videogames represent a 100 billion dollar industry!

What projects are easiest to start? We’ll talk about that next week.


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