Pen drawing of a woman with abstract watercolor painted in purple and blue

6 Creative Passion Projects That Stand Out on College Applications

Personal pursuits are a great way to impress admission committees and enjoy your free time simultaneously. Here are some project ideas to consider!

In today’s highly competitive world, students need to do more than just perform well academically to secure admission to top-tier colleges and universities. Even high SAT scores and GPAs won’t guarantee admission to more competitive schools. One way to stand out from the crowd is by engaging in creative personal projects that demonstrate your unique talents, interests, and passions. Not only do they make your college application more impressive, but they also help you develop valuable skills and gain knowledge that can be useful in your future academic and professional endeavors. Here are some creative personal projects to consider taking up that can help you stand out on your college applications.

1. Inventions

If you have a knack for engineering and innovation, inventing something new can be an excellent way to demonstrate your creativity and problem-solving skills. Your invention could be anything from a new gadget to improving efficiency in an existing machine—the possibilities are endless. You could even try to market your invention on social media and gather some attention from businesses.

Related: Great Colleges and Universities for Science and Engineering in the West

2. Businesses

Speaking of businesses, starting your own business is another way to stand out on your college applications and demonstrate your entrepreneurial skills. The business could be anything from a small online store to a more substantial enterprise. You can even turn one of your hobbies into a profitable business; you could sell baked goods, jewelry, food, tutoring services, babysitting services, and more.

3. Creative writing

If you have a talent for writing, you can showcase your skills by engaging in creative writing projects. You could write a book, a collection of short stories or poetry, or even a screenplay. If you really want to push the envelope and get noticed, pursue options of getting published in a magazine or journal or through self-publishing. You could also create your own website to showcase your writing and include the link at the top of your résumé.

4. Visual art projects

If you’re a talented artist, there are many creative projects you can pursue to showcase your skills. You could create a portfolio of your artwork, design a clothing line, or even make a short film. And don’t forget to think outside the box. You could design a mural in your local school and involve students in your community, or design a website that also functions as an art piece. The sky is the limit!

Related: Unique Careers for Visual Arts Students

5. Community service

Community service opportunities are an excellent way to showcase your leadership and dedication to making a positive impact in your community. There are many areas for volunteering: local charities, fundraising campaigns for meaningful causes, community gardens,  beach or park cleanups, clothing and canned goods drives, tutoring underprivileged kids, and more. Simply volunteering to connect with others is good, but to really stand out, you have to make a significant difference in your community by dedicating your time to a cause consistently.

6. Scientific research

If you have a passion for science, scientific research projects are an excellent way to demonstrate your knowledge and problem-solving skills. You could conduct your own experiments, participate in science fairs, or even publish your research in scientific journals. This looks really good if you’re interested in a career in any of the STEM fields.

Bonus tip: Set goals for yourself!

When deciding which activities to pursue, consider what you’re actually passionate about. These creative projects work better if you’re invested. Be sure to have a concrete and attainable goal to work toward. Write out your plans to attain it, and make sure you have the resources to accomplish it. Don't be afraid to ask for help from parents, teachers, peers, and friends. If possible, find a mentor who has experience in what you’re working on. They can offer insightful advice that can significantly help you achieve your goals.

Related: How to Master the Art of Setting and Refining Your Goals

These kinds of creative personal endeavors or "passion projects" really make students stand out on college applications. You’re showing that you have motivation, confidence, creativity, and the know-how to execute a wide-scale project. Your passion project could also influence your career and major choices in the future. In addition, you’ll learn more about yourself and what you’re capable of accomplishing.

Looking for other unique ways to make yourself shine to admission committees? Check out our comprehensive guide on How to Make Your College Applications Stand Out for more tips!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Justin Mathew

Justin Mathew is an academically successful student at Shadow Creek High School in Texas. He's the president of the Mu Alpha Theta and Chess club chapters as an avid chess player with a Class B rating. Justin also enjoys basketball, NFL statistics, and playing the piano. At the age of seven, he was featured as a kid inventor and presented the No Sweat-SweatShirt on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. After high school, he plans to pursue a career in the medical field. 


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Nikole Dixon

Nikole Dixon

$500 Refer-a-Friend Scholarship Winner

Toward the beginning of last year, I was searching for scholarships to apply to through my school, town, websites online, and anything else I could find. I asked tons of questions [online] about scholarships and the best places to find them because I was desperate and needed as many as I could find. I came across a ton of bogus websites, but as soon as I found CollegeXpress, I knew I had to tell other people about it. It was definitely the most helpful site I came across, so I told my friends about it. CollegeXpress is definitely a website worth giving as a source.

Maya Ingraham

Maya Ingraham

October 2021 Mini Scholarship Winner, Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has given me more confidence in my college process. With easy-to-access resources and guidance such as the CX Weekly Roundup, I have been able to find the best colleges for me. Most importantly, there’s a surplus of scholarship opportunities for every student to support their education.

Rhiannon Teeter

Rhiannon Teeter

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2012

I have spent a lot of time aggressively searching for scholarships. It was a long and frustrating process until I found the CollegeXpress network. This site made my search so much easier. With the simple check of a few boxes, the site sorted out scholarships I was eligible for and led me directly to the correct websites. Winning this scholarship has definitely given me and my family some financial relief, and CollegeXpress has allowed me to improve my chances of winning further financial aid. Thank you so much!

Heaven Johnson

Heaven Johnson

Back to School Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2023

I’d like to thank everyone on the CollegeXpress team for their generosity. Not only have I been awarded this scholarship, but CollegeXpress makes it easier to apply and gives amazing tips for schools and scholarships. I am extremely grateful as this will help with my schooling and allow me to be able to enter into the field I’ve been dreaming of all my life. 

Ana Sophia Garcia-Cubas Assemat

Ana Sophia Garcia-Cubas Assemat

$10,000 Scholarship Winner, 2020

CollegeXpress has been an instrumental resource for my scholarship search and has given me the opportunity to try my best so I can graduate from college debt-free.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

SUNY Cortland

Cortland, NY

High Point University

High Point, NC

Fort Lewis College

Durango, CO