Passion project to get into Stanford please help :)

Hi I’m pretty new here,
I’m a rising hs junior, and my dream school is Stanford but I’m also looking into Johns Hopkins. I really want to start a passion project this summer. My topics of pursuit and interests include Hepatitis B/liver cancer, tennis, mock trial, and data analytics. I have other extracurriculars too, but these are what I’m REALLY focused and interested in. It’s a pretty peculiar list I admit, but how do I cumulate these topics into a passion project or a distinctive activity in general?

Here are my thoughts, please give me feedback:
-non profit with hep b/liver cancer and mock trial
-reach out to a pro tennis player and fundraise for hep b/liver cancer
-im a korean Kpop Stan lol, maybe use social media to educate these topics since Kpop is really popular?
-do a coding project but idk where to start :stuck_out_tongue:

Stanford is a super high reach for any student, regardless of grades, extra curriculars or passion projects. Put it this way - 97 out of every 100 students with perfect grades/test scores/and accomplishments in an EC or passion project are rejected (89 students out of 100 at JHU). That isn’t meant to discourage you or sound insensitive. The point is you should do something you are passionate about because it means something to you not because you are trying to impress an AO at a college. You can pick anything on your list, do it well, and it will not likely be the deciding factor in your application.


Please do NOT start a non-profit. Every HS student seems to think that this is a magic bullet, and it’s just not. Student-started (and usually dropped as soon as they head off to college) non-profits are ten a penny.

Read this:

Trying to invent a “passion project” to get into a specific college almost never works. Work on maturing your understanding of why you love Stanford so much (and how JHU is your 2nd favorite, given that they are so radically different).


I was immediately struck by the contradiction in your thread title. If you do a project out of “passion,” then it is inherently important to you and not related to college admissions. If you are doing a project “to get into Stanford” then, it seems to me, it is not a true “passion project.” Of course so many high schoolers are thinking like this, and trying to fit themselves to a mold for a “dream school,” including growing numbers of high schoolers creating non-profits.

I would spend the summer doing whatever develops your interests. Do you have a family member with liver cancer? I honestly doubt there is much you can do to help that cause, at your age. Maybe there is a summer program or course you could do, or you could volunteer or get a job. If you love tennis, continue to play, maybe teach kids-? Do what you really want to do without regard to college admissions. Ironically authenticity matters.

And try to learn more about schools that might be a good fit for you. Try not to get too focused on any one or two schools. Apply to a good mix including schools you are pretty sure you can attend. Good luck!


A passion for Stanford. :rofl:


Change up your idea a little.

Instead of calling something a “passion project”, how about just not labeling it and doing something that you are passionate about?

Stanford is not going to be impressed by some last minute “project”. Neither will other schools. My husband is a Stanford grad. He has been asked to interview potential students. The slots are small and finite. Unless you are a URM, a recruited athlete, an international celebrity, or the children of Bill Gates, Obama, etc. your chances are less than 1 percent.

Do something for the love of it, not because you expect it to get you admitted into a school. You will not enjoy your “project” if your heart isn’t in it. School administrators will see right through that.

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Dear OP, I love your interests. You sound like a really interesting teenager that I could easily chat with and learn from. That’s what most colleges are looking for beyond academic competence. The only kids from my kids’ school that have gotten into Stanford (that I know of) are recruited athletes. Do you play tennis at a recruitable level? If I were you I would take the summer and visit/research and develop a passion for other universities that will give you a great education and peers that are just as interesting as you that you can learn from. There are MANY such universities and it will take you all summer if you keep your mind open and let go of the name brand mentality. I know this is not the advice you wanted but it is the advice I feel compelled to give you. Good luck!


The only ones admitted from my son’s prep school have been legacies, sometimes accepted over much more highly qualified students that also applied.

You’ve probably already thought about this, but I think you should shadow a medical professional. It’s not exactly a “distinctive activity”, but it will still look good, and probably more valuable to you. Even if it doesn’t help you get into X college, it will make you more knowledgeable if you plan to educate others.

If you want to do a coding project, maybe make a website? It’s not really coding with all of the free website makers out there, and it will cost a little money to host it, but I think it’s a better way to fundraise than asking a pro tennis player or social media.

If you really want coding you could make a diagnosis quiz app (Ask the user if they have any particular symptoms, run it against a database that contains a list of possible diseases & related symptoms). It’s not too hard, and I think it could be useful. I don’t know the procedure for publishing an app on Play/App store, and make sure that it’s relatively accurate. Obviously don’t include any major/severe diseases.

Edit: I’m echoing what others have said, but don’t do something because it looks good on colleges. That’s like donating money to an important cause only because it makes you look like a nice person.

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