Do Ascend Students Have to Have a Project Picked Out Before They Enroll?

One of the core elements of Unbound’s post-high school training program, Ascend, is projects. Every student picks out an ambitious project that they will take full responsibility for, and carry it out from idea to completion during their year in Ascend. It’s one of the most challenging and fulfilling parts of the program.

If you’d like to read more about some of the projects that Ascend students have taken on, click here.

A lot of prospective students and their parents hear about these projects and ask if they need to have a project in mind before their student joins Ascend. The short answer: no.

Students are welcome to come into the program with ideas about what they might want to do for a project, but if they’re not sure yet, that’s not a problem at all.

When are students required to have their projects picked out?

Deciding on what kind of project they want to tackle is a big decision, so we give students several months to consider what they’d like to take on. Students kick off their year in Ascend with APEX, Unbound’s largest event, held every year in Michigan in late August. The deadline for project proposals is not until mid-December, just before the start of their Christmas break.

During that time, the students will receive regular reminders to keep thinking about what kind of project they’d like to take on, as well as resources and examples that they can use over those few months to help them decide.

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How do students go about picking out a project?

Because there is such a wide range of possibilities for what kinds of things students can use as their projects, it can be overwhelming to narrow it down to one choice.

Fortunately, students don’t have to do this alone. As students progress through the program, they also spend time in their Ascend teams: groups of 7-10 other students, led by an Unbound alumni team leader. This gives students the opportunity to talk about possible project ideas with their teammates, give feedback to other students on their projects, and hear from their team leader on what worked well for them.

Come the end of the semester, if students are still feeling stuck, we still offer plenty of resources for them. They’re always able to talk with their team leaders, or any of Unbound’s academic staff, to get help deciding on a project.


Projects give students the opportunity to put into practice all of the principles and lessons that they’ve learned over the course of their time in Ascend. We’ve never had two projects look exactly alike; each project is every bit as unique as the student who takes it on.

If you’re a prospective student or parent considering Ascend, and taking on a project sounds daunting, in a way, that’s a good thing! It’s meant to be something that pushes and challenges our students to grow in ways that surprise even themselves. A lot of hard work, learning from failure, and resilience is required, but that’s exactly why they’re such an essential part of Ascend.

To learn more about Ascend and to check to see if your student is eligible, schedule a free consultation with our admissions team. Click here to schedule now.