A number of students had their summer plans fall through at the last minute. Whether it was a job, research opportunity, or other experience that would have been listed on college applications, students start to worry.
For all those students, don't fret. Pivot instead. Consider doing what I call a "homegrown project." Note, I don't call this a "passion project" like many. If you have worked in college admissions, the mere term "passion project" denotes that it is something done just to get into college. A homegrown project is authentic, personal, and done for the right reasons.
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Step 1: Select an academic area, community need, or personal interest that you have.
Step 2: Get as specific as you can about your area of interest.
Step 3: Choose how you will deliver this work.
Step 4: Pick a mentor.
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Step 5: Create a timeline and stick to it.
Step 6: Invest time into this project like it is your full-time job.
Step 7: The goal of the project is not to get national attention, local attention, or even to get published.
Does the homegrown project take discipline? You bet it does. Does it take self-driven curiosity? You bet. Does it cost any money? Nope. And that is why it is so transformative for a student to pursue.