Questions to help your college bound student discover their true passion



Colleges want to see students actively pursuing what truly interests them – not what they think college wants to see.

While grades and test scores are important college application elements that are considered in the admissions process, they are far from the only factors that influence college admissions decisions. In addition to academic excellence, universities are looking for students with demonstrated interests and passions – or specialists. College admissions offices want to admit students who will make an impact on campus by continuing to pursues those passions, but how can you know what truly interests you?  

It’s important to commit to a small number of activities in high school and really go the extra mile to establish your interest in these fields. Whether it’s playing an instrument, advocating for a cause, or training with a team, colleges look favorably upon passionate students with defined interests. Students can demonstrate their specialty in those interests by participating in school-related activities, starting a club, pursuing a related job or internship, reading about the topic, and more.

If you are struggling to hone in on the activities that matter most to you, these questions can help you pinpoint what interests you may want to specialize in.

What’s my favorite subject in school?
While your passion doesn’t need to relate to class work, many students become interested in a subject that they initially learned about in school. Maybe you never thought of yourself as a science person but fell in love with the geology unit in your earth science class. Or perhaps you really enjoyed the poetry assignment you completed during freshmen year English. Even if you don’t love every aspect of a subject in school, try to pinpoint specific components of a class that you really enjoyed and consider looking for opportunities to further explore these interests.

What school projects or assignments did I excel in?
Many students find that certain types of schoolwork come easier to them than others. Whether it is writing a personal essay or solving a problem set, reflect on what kind of academic work comes naturally to you. After you’ve identified what you excel in, look into after-school activities that utilize the same skill set. For example, students who enjoy storytelling may benefit from joining the school newspaper while those with more quantitative capabilities may want to consider activities with a STEM focus.

What do I most look forward to doing on the weekend?
The activities you most look forward to can reveal a lot about your interests and passions outside of the classroom. Students who can’t wait to see the latest movie releases may want to explore filmmaking, while those who enjoy playing basketball may wish to try out for the school team. There’s no right or wrong passion; colleges are looking to create classes of students with diverse interests and specialties, so don’t shy away from exploring whatever activities you enjoy most.

Who do I really admire?
Think about your favorite celebrities, public figures, and personal friends or relatives you most admire. Identify what kind of actions and characteristics draw you to these figures and what traits they have in common. A student who looks up to a handful of clothing designers may discover his or her own interest in fashion while someone who admires authors may wish to get involved in creative writing.

What movies do I love to watch over and over again?
Can’t get enough of sci-fi flicks or documentaries on a certain topic? If you find yourself repeatedly watching movies on a similar subject, it may be worth exploring this interest. An interest in health documentaries might signal a passion or medicine or health sciences. Love movies or shows about space exploration? Maybe you want to be an aeronautical engineer. Identify any common themes that connect all of your favorite movies and shows and consider exploring activities that relate to this central idea.

If you are still unsure about where your interests lie or what kind of extracurricular activities may be a good fit for you, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Consider talking to your favorite teacher, a high school counselor, or working independently with a college admissions counselor. Our team of expert counselors can help you pinpoint what you are passionate about and brainstorm extracurricular activities and summer opportunities that relate to your interests.

Now’s the time to start really delving into your interests and make an impact! Download our free College Planning Check list for a detailed timeline on where you need to be in the college prep process.

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