So you’ve decided to take a Capstone course…

As I write this in April 2020, things are, in a word, weird. When I began the Capstone course in my final semester of college, I never expected a global pandemic to disrupt the term. Who would have?!

Still, though my Capstone has been a bit unconventional, I feel lucky to have had this experience. It’s been exciting, it’s been fun, it’s been a little bit painful. But most of all, it’s been an opportunity for growth, as a writer and as a person, and I hope it is that for you, too.

That said, if you’re here, you’re probably looking for some words of wisdom to get through those painful parts, so here are a few lessons learned:

  1. Don’t be afraid to speak up in class! 
    • Moving to online somehow seemed to make our class discussions more robust. Maybe it was just that we were farther along in the semester and felt more comfortable with each other, or maybe it was because people felt less inhibited behind a screen. Whatever it was, class felt much more useful and productive once people began to share and speak a little more freely. 
  2. Pick a project you’re passionate about 
    • I was able to come up with an idea I loved right at the beginning of the semester and sustain my passion for it up until the end — and I still had a hard time motivating myself to work on it at times. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to slog through an entire semester of a project you aren’t thrilled about. 
  3. Set achievable limits and work goals, so you can chip away at a little bit each day
    • Okay, this is probably something every Capstone alum will tell you, and no one ever seems to heed the advice (at least, I definitely didn’t). But setting up a good work schedule — and sticking to it! — will help you so much at the end of the semester, when everything seems to be piling up.
    • Additionally, if you’re working online and are stuck at home under a “stay at home” order, setting “work hours” for yourself, or a schedule that details what part of the project you’ll work on at each time every day, can be extremely helpful. 
  4. When you get stuck, find someone to talk it out with
    • As a writer, it’s so easy to get tangled in your own thoughts or develop writer’s block. Don’t feel like you need to struggle through it alone! I was highly skeptical of the whole “project mentors” thing, and probably waited too long to find mentors who could actually be effective sounding boards for me. But when I did find those people, it became so much easier to work through roadblocks in my piece. T was also incredibly helpful throughout the project, and became a great person to bounce ideas off of — make office hours (or scheduling a call, if you’re working remotely) a priority!
  5. Remember that your project can change throughout the semester
    • Maybe you decide you want to add a component to your project in Week 4. Maybe you realize some part of your project isn’t necessary in Week 6. Maybe your entire world becomes upended in a time of global crisis during Week 8. Whatever the situation may be, it’s okay to rework your project throughout the semester to fit your goals and needs! Talk to your instructor, talk to your classmates, talk to your mentors, and then remember that this is all for your own benefit, and you should do a project that YOU feel good about.

Hopefully this can be slightly helpful for you future Capstone students. All advice aside, though, if you made it far enough to get to Capstone, I think you’re going to do just fine. Good luck, and I can’t wait to see what you create!

-Maya

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