I hate when people lecture me. Especially peers. Especially digitally. So I won’t pretend I have the world figured out. But here are a few things I learned along the way while making this capstone project. Maybe they can help!
Self-motivation, self-motivation, self-motivation. There are lots of different directions you can take your Capstone; there are infinite topics and styles; you can push all the work until the end or spread it out; you can follow the timeframe the professor encourages or not (maybe bad advice?). But there’s one common denominator: If you’re not enthusiastic about the work itself, you won’t be proud of the result. If there’s a single thing I would most urge you to do, hypothetical future Capstone participant, it would be to invest some real time at the very beginning of the class to thinking. What do you want to get out of it? What do you want it to look like? What do you want to achieve? All these far-off deadlines might encourage you to push off forming your vision until it’s necessary, but that’s the worst thing you can do. Otherwise, you’ll be flailing all semester, searching for a new direction or uninspired by the class altogether. If you’re invested in the work itself, then external factors (say, I don’t know, a global pandemic ripping the end of your senior year from underneath you and moving classes online) won’t have as big an impact on this class.
Having said all this, I think there are some logistical things that your taking seriously will benefit you. When you’re mapping out a schedule for the rest of the semester, take that seriously and schedule realistically. You know when you will and won’t do work — the less bullshit, the better. If you set actual goals then you can actually meet them and you won’t be sitting there a week before it’s due freaking out. Obviously, those goals will change around the edges; maybe, I don’t know, a global pandemic will shift the thrust of your entire project. But having them eases some anxieties about this big heap of work you’ve got to accomplish by some far-off date. Also, I would say, you have to build some flexibility into your vision. Push yourself to do good work, and maybe push yourself beyond what you’d previously deemed capable, but understand your limitations. If you’re like me and not super talented as a website designer, seek help before the week before. If you know you’ll need lots of proof-reading, find someone you trust to shoot straight with you about the writing. And be amenable to changes you might find necessary, for whatever reason.
Lastly, I’d just say this class is really cool. You’re at a university with unlimited resources in a class with unlimited creativity with a professor (I presume) that allows unlimited exploration. Use that. Don’t aim low. Don’t simply go through the motions. Find what you’re passionate about and pour what you have into it. If you do, you’ll be proud of the final result.
Which is to say I could sit here and lecture you about the virtues of meeting every deadline and making a project worth showing to employers or making sure you do a little bit of work every night, but you and I both know this won’t be perfect. You’ll mess up and get lazy. You’ll forget for awhile and cram. But when you’re sitting here writing this post to future Minors in Writing next year, I guarantee you’ll regret it if you’re not proud of the product you produce.