Looking for the #1 Wow Activity to Impress Colleges? In this video, Brooke details how to get your “spike factor” or “passion project” off the ground.
Nowadays, college admissions and activities is really frustrating to a lot of students. Years ago, being the best at typical activities like getting straight A’s would automatically ensure admission to competitive colleges. While that’s still true for underrepresented states and minorities, standing out is much more difficult for most students. To stand out, you need to do an activity that is your own passion activity.
This isn’t always easy – if it were, everyone would be doing it. The reason this helps students stand out is because not everyone is doing it. A passion project activity is one that does not exist at your high school. Yet, this is the one activity that everyone can do (including international students!). Your passion project should be based on things you enjoy doing, topics you’re interested in, and the activity should be independently crafted around that.
However, not all passion projects are created the same, and some are more impressive than others. We’ll be going through factors that affects this, and we’ll also be giving examples of passion projects we’ve seen work before in the past.
Reflects Your Passion
Passion projects that reflect real ideas you’re interested in are better. For example, throughout the years, we’ve seen five or six students write about their Rubrik’s cube skills. While solving cubes is a weirdly impressive skill, it’s hard to see the significance in doing so. In other words, it’s difficult to show how this passion taps into your values system. One way to evaluate how your passion fits into your values is by seeing if it fixes real problems.
Reveal How You Can Solve a Problem
If you can solve a real human problem that adults deal with, that’s impressive. Maybe the problem is COVID-19 itself! For example, there was a student who formed a task force that helped elderly people sign up for vaccines. Another student did medical research
Your Solution Should Be Scalable
This means that the scale of your solution should have repercussions that impact more people than just one person in front of you. For instance, something like doing research on a particular type of Alzheimer’s is much more impressive than creating a single wheelchair for your grandmother.
Reveal Your Dedication
Some projects don’t seem impressive because it may appear obvious that someone else helped a lot. To be impressive, it must be your work (not just your idea), and you must sink in sufficient time and effort.
Your Idea Should be Original
While it’s difficult to be original, you shouldn’t regurgitate what other people did. You want to have a mark of creativity, an angle that hasn’t been seen before. For example, if you’re building an AI project, you don’t want to make one that can simply identify cats on the internet. It has already been done before, and you should instead apply that to something that hasn’t been done before.
Reveal Your Leadership
Passion projects become impressive when they are done outside of school and would not exist if it were not for you. Maybe you had to contact a hundred different researchers to understand what you’re doing or maybe you had to get yourself a mentor. Leadership can be stepping up, talking to people, making alliances, building ideas on joint values, and making a difference in that way.
To stand out in science, students often invent something or research something. Winning awards can also be impressive, but the way you tell your story conveys more than how many awards you win. If you’re a musician, a wow activity might be composing music that gains traction. Writers can consistently write for literary journals and hopefully become published. Perhaps you can start an anti-bullying task force and organize speeches at local elementary schools.
Whatever you do, if you can address some zeitgeist – the problems that appear in the media today or the problems that adults face – and solve these problems in your community or even at a bigger scale, then that’s something worth doing.
While starting a passion project can seem really daunting, but it’s something that you should think about and act on if you’ve got time. Nevertheless, this is not the only path for getting into a great university. Finally, there are many great colleges and universities. Just because you don’t have a crazy wow factor that gets you into Harvard doesn’t mean that you’re worthy of getting into a great college. If have great grades and you do well with your activities, you’re going to get into some college, and you’re going to be fine. And everything will equal out at the end of the day – that’s what studies show.