Why Passion Projects Help Students Do Better in School

I recently wrote about why a passion project can help you get into college. Here’s a precursor to that topic: a passion project can actually help you perform better during the school years leading up to college.

There’s a synergy at work when interest aligns with task. I’ve always believed that the missing piece of my school experience was more real-life opportunities to apply what I learned in the classroom. It’s one thing to tell students that what they’re learning will matter some day, and quite another to experience this firsthand.

I came upon evidence to support this hunch in “Why Do Some Poor Kids Thrive,”  an article that was published in The Atlantic, not uncoincidentally around the same time I started The Lemonade Post. The jury was out: kids do better in school when there’s a real-life component. The highlighted study in the article revealed statistics, which are hard to refute.

Out of 116 Baltimore youth studied who were no longer in high school, 90 percent of those with an identity project graduated, while only 58 percent of those without one did so. And 82 percent of those with an identity project were in school or working, compared to 53 percent of those without an identity project. An identity project is another term for passion project, which is nothing more than a fancy term for a developed hobby.

It didn’t matter what the hobby was. Those involved in the study had identity projects that ranged from rearing pigeons to Japanese anime. What mattered was an interest factor, something that sparked a passion and ignited kids to action.

The suggested anecdote to the findings in the study was more outlets for extracurricular activities and more counseling for kids, both for which funding is being cut in many cities unfortunately. But there are plenty of opportunities, I hope to show, for young people to explore this outlet, whether it’s through entrepreneurship, a nonprofit, getting involved in your community, or delving deep into a passionate hobby. The whole point is to increase your intake of what’s taught in the classroom by learning outside the classroom.


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