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  • Alicia Sigmon

Passion Projects: How Chinese Students Can Have Fun and Stand Out in Admissions

In China, many students and their parents dream of acceptance into a top 100 university, and students face immense pressure when it comes to grades and tests. Students are working hard to make their dreams a reality and spending their time studying to ace their tests and apply to the top universities around the world. However, while grades, exams, and admissions essays are crucial for an excellent application, students also need to have real-life experiences and successes that show their passion and personality to really stand out.


The word "passion" written in lights on a street a night
Passion projects let students figure out what they love while developing lifelong skills and experiences | Photo by Kashawn Hernandez on Unsplash






















Many students participate in extracurriculars, but fewer pursue their hobbies to develop meaningful, independent projects. To truly explore and develop a passion and build meaningful skills, students can work on a passion project.



What is a passion project?


A passion project is an independent project for students to develop something positive and rewarding with their interests. Passion projects go beyond extracurriculars, like participating in sports, music, or debate clubs. Below are some examples of passion projects:

  1. Write and publish an SCI Paper: Published quarterly by MDPA, SCI is an international, open-access journal for research papers on a wide variety of topics. Students interested in science, writing, and research can develop their skills in a project and paper that they can submit for publication in a scientific journal. This often involves but does not necessitate finding a mentor, such as a teacher or community member. While doing research and writing proposals and their paper, students can connect with their teachers, peers, or career scientists for support and to build connections.

  2. Make a blog: Social media is a great way to connect with people around the world and in the 21st is crucial for all businesses, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Students with a passion for videography, social media, or marketing could use those skills to share another of their passions in video blogs or Tik Toks on their platform of choice. Video blogs could be on any topic of interest to students, such as cooking, comedy, movie reviews, or wildlife. Developing social media skills like editing, SEO, and content creation is useful for a wide variety of university courses and careers.

  3. Organize a community activity or fundraiser: Students can show initiative, leadership, and empathy by organizing activities and fundraisers for the community. By identifying an issue within their community and working to help solve the issue, students can make a lasting impact and learn valuable skills.

  4. Create an art portfolio: For artsy students, they can develop a portfolio around something they’re passionate about, like social justice, the environment, music, or friendship. Art is a powerful form of self-expression, connecting people within the artist’s community and around the world. Students can choose a theme for their portfolio to express themselves and what matters to them while also showcasing their unique artistic talents.

  5. Start a club or tutoring service: Students may want to connect with students who share their passions. If a club doesn’t already exist, this is a perfect opportunity for students to propose a new club to their school and market it to their fellow students. For tutoring services, many students are looking for support in various school topics. Students who excel in a certain topic of interest can help others by sharing their knowledge. This helps students build connections, learn teaching skills and patience, and build upon their understanding of their topic of interest.


Crucially, when beginning a passion project, students should be doing something that brings them joy. The unique benefit of these projects relies on the spark of passion that stands out to admissions. In their essays and interviews, students should be able to share what they love, what they learned, and how they overcame challenges. When students can talk earnestly about their passions and achievements, that spark of genuine enjoyment stands out and makes students more memorable.


Two people standing on a sidewalk in front of the words "passion led us here."
Many students struggle to figure out what to study, but those that work on a passion project can figure out their strengths, progress areas, and passions sooner rather than later | Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash


What are the benefits of a passion project?

Passion projects show drive and initiative, and Chinese students who complete a passion project can share tangible achievements in admissions essays to stand out from their peers. Passion projects teach students tangible lessons and skills that they can share with admissions representatives to demonstrate their unique perspectives, skills, and interests. Here are some benefits of passion projects for Chinese students:

  1. Develop transferable skills: Managing their own project shows leadership, organization, communication, dedication, and more. Passion projects can help students develop the skills that universities are looking for and skills that will set them up for success in school, internships, work, and life.

  2. Do what they love: Work smarter, not harder. When working on a passion project, students are putting in the effort but developing something they can truly enjoy and feel proud about! Nothing is more rewarding than doing what you love and sharing it with others.

  3. Make a positive impact: Students can use their passions to build positive change in their communities, both online and in person. Whether it’s a passion for languages that turns into a tutoring service, or a love of writing that turns into a recipe blog, students can do what they love while inspiring and supporting others.

  4. Build connections: In our global society, nothing is done in complete isolation. A passion project should be shared and celebrated. While working on their passion project, students can share what they’re doing on social media and throughout their community. They can learn from others, share their expertise, and meet people with similar interests, making lasting personal and professional connections. As we know, connections are crucial for discovering what options are out there and for knowing people in your desired industry, company, university, etc.

  5. Stand out in applications: By developing transferable skills, discovering what they love, making a positive impact, and making connections with others, students have the perfect talking point for interviews, essays, and applications. The skills and experiences gained from passion projects can change the trajectory of students’ lives.




Conclusions


Studying and preparing for exams can only get students so far. It’s important for them to also develop their interests and transferable skills. By working on a passion project, students will have something to do in their free time that not only lets them pursue their interests but also find what they love and what they’re good at. These projects provide students with meaningful experiences to build confidence and understand themselves and their strengths. They can not only do what they love, but also develop transferable skills, make a positive impact, make connections, and stand out in their applications. If students want to stand out, passion projects are a great way to do it while having fun!



 


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