Does your high school have the option for you to complete a Capstone course, but you don’t know what that is? Are you interested in having a large project to culminate your high school experience? If either of these sounds like you, then you have come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll be discussing what a Capstone course is. We’ll also break down why students might choose to take a Capstone course and complete a Capstone project. If this intrigues you, then make sure to keep reading!
What Does a Capstone Course Mean in High School?
A Capstone course is a culminating course that typically is centered around one large project that you get to pick. The course itself is simply a dedicated time for you to work on your Capstone project. These courses are something that students will usually take during their final semester of high school, typically during the spring of their senior year.
Your Capstone project is a large-scale project that you will spend at least a semester, but possibly even a full year working on. Usually, you will get almost total control over this project and its direction. This means that you will have the opportunity to pursue something that interests you, even if it is beyond the scope of your normal high school curriculum.
Generally, teachers will set guidelines for what you must accomplish by when, but they will leave the actual material and content of the project up to you. These Capstone projects typically culminate in either a long paper, a full presentation, or sometimes even both. This project is designed to act as a mini-thesis and give students the tools to complete large projects and manage their time and resources well.
What Should You Expect in a Capstone Course?
With your Capstone course, you should expect a lot of work. Tackling a project over a long amount of time is a challenge, so making sure that you stay on top of your workload throughout the semester or year is super important.
Since it is a high school Capstone, you should be able to expect a good amount of guidance and support from your teacher. While this is your project, it is important to remember that the goal of this course is to help prepare you for future projects that you might be asked to complete. To help you achieve this goal, your teacher will likely push you to meet deadlines and stay organized.
Here is an example of what your Capstone course schedule might look like for an average spring semester:
January 31: have your topic picked
February 28: an annotated bibliography of 5 sources
March 31: outline due
April 30: rough draft due
May 20: final paper due
May 25: final presentations
Although this is a very rough idea of when you might expect things to be due, it is a common order that you will be asked to complete things for your Capstone project. You will more than likely be asked to meet with your teacher one-on-one at least once a week to discuss your progress both on the general project and on the next due date.
These due dates are designed to help keep you on track. In general, one of the big benefits of completing a Capstone course during high school is that you will learn how to structure a long project. This ability to space things out throughout a semester is a skill that will serve you well in college and grad school and is what high schools are trying to teach you throughout your Capstone course.
It is worth noting that if you are on top of the deadlines that your teacher sets and are receiving good grades on each section of the project that you turn in throughout the semester, you will likely receive a good grade on the project. The grades you receive along the way are a great indication of how your teacher thinks you are doing, which gives you time to adjust if you are not happy with how you are doing.
What Makes a Good Capstone Project?
Defining what makes a good Capstone project is challenging. Every school that offers a Capstone project will have different specifications of what they expect from their students’ Capstones. However, there are some general things to look for in a good Capstone project.
A good Capstone project starts with a good topic. When picking the topic for your Capstone project, make sure you think about a broad enough topic to last you a full semester or full year of study. Remember to pick something that actually interests you as well because if you don’t like your topic, you will get bored part of the way through.
Although a Capstone is almost the high school equivalent of a thesis, it tends to be less of a culmination of all of your work and more a deep dive into a single topic. In order for your Capstone project to be good, it doesn’t need to include things from every course you have ever taken in high school. Making sure that your Capstone project is focused and not random will help give it a polished feel.
If you are struggling to pick a good topic for your Capstone course, try thinking about what classes you’ve taken throughout high school have excited you to learn. Next, think about any projects or papers you felt engaged with from these classes. Maybe try thinking back on any books you enjoyed reading and think about why. These are all great places to start to think about what excites you enough to study for a semester. Remember that you can always ask the teachers who taught these classes for recommendations as well.
Is a Capstone Course Hard?
It’s hard to say if a Capstone course is hard since a Capstone course is a self-paced course where you study a topic of your choosing. In general, it is expected that a Capstone course will take up slightly more time than your other courses, just because it is a deeper dive into a topic than other high school courses.
Since a Capstone course is designed to act like a high school equivalent of a thesis, you are expected to produce work at a high level, which will be a lot of work. If you are going into a Capstone expecting it to be easy because you pick the topic, then you might want to reevaluate your commitment to the course.
There is something to be said for studying something you enjoy feeling easier than studying something you don’t enjoy, but you should expect to be putting lots of effort into your Capstone project. If you pick a topic that you enjoy, the studying and research will feel more enjoyable, but there will still be a lot of it.
While a Capstone course can seem like a lot of work and many unnecessary deadlines to meet, those deadlines can actually be super helpful. If you leave a lot of the work on your Capstone project until the last few weeks of the semester, it will be hard to complete. If you stay on top of your work throughout the semester and make sure you meet every deadline, the work for your project will be spaced out well and not too overwhelming at any one point throughout the semester.
A Capstone course is designed to be a final large-scale project, so don’t go into a Capstone course expecting a walk in the park. This course is supposed to push you, and you will be expected to put in a decent amount of work throughout the entire duration of the course. Make sure you stay on top of your work, and you will produce a great Capstone project in the end.
What Happens If You Fail Capstone?
Capstone courses tend to be hard to fail because of how much support and help teachers will provide for you throughout the course. This course is designed for you to grow and learn and is not often offered to all students. Since this is a self-selecting course, meaning that only the students who want this extra challenge are allowed to take it, the failure rate is generally quite low.
Even with all that in mind, if you really fall behind or don’t put in enough effort into your Capstone course, you can always fail the course. Since Capstone courses are not required for most high schools, this will be treated like you failing any other course you might take in high school. This means that as long as you have the required credits for graduation, you should still be able to graduate.
Some schools require that all students complete a Capstone course in order to graduate. If this is the case, then failing your Capstone course can have some pretty serious repercussions. Make sure you know what the consequences would be if you failed your Capstone course before you started.
In the event that your school requires a Capstone project, they will more than likely offer differing levels of Capstone project. Many schools offer a more challenging Capstone project that lasts a full year and a less intensive option that only lasts a semester. If you are worried about being able to complete your Capstone project, it might be worthwhile to consider opting for the less intensive course.
If you do end up failing your required Capstone project, there may be other options that still allow you to graduate on time. Some schools will allow you to make up your Capstone project over the summer and still walk with your grade at graduation. Ask your teacher if you are worried about not passing your Capstone project, though, since each school is different.
Wrapping Things Up: What is a Capstone Course in High School?
Overall, a Capstone course is a great way to finish up your high school experience. It allows you to continue to grow as a student and gives you the best tools to help prepare for college and any other long-term project you may work on in your future. Just remember that every Capstone course and project is unique, so make sure you fully understand what your school expects of you before you start your project.