It is a lot of work, but juniors will tell you that having an independent project as part of your portfolio makes an impact in the college admission process. They will also tell you how much they grew from the experience.
The goal of the Independent Project is to encourage motivated students to pursue an area of study in depth. The end-result is a research paper and a presentation. The students must demonstrate their acquired knowledge and/or skills before a group of experts from the school and the community.
The research component is comprised of scholarly work on the part of the student and independent work that the student can pursue during free time. At a minimum, students complete a scholarly essay and an annotated bibliography. Each student is paired with a faculty mentor throughout this year-long process.