In the United States, Capstone Project in high school is a way for students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have gained during their high school career through a long-term, multifaceted project.
What is a high school Capstone Project?
Usually performed during the final year of high school, students typically choose a theme, subject major, or social issue to explore, and work on the project together with a designated mentor. The mentor guides the student throughout the entire project, impart their knowledge and experience, and teaches students new skills. This gives students opportunities to focus on tasks and cultivate professional practical experience.
Over the course of the project, students conduct extensive research in their chosen field, ensure detailed planning of each step, produce a final research paper, and create a presentation to showcase their findings.
What benefits can a high school student reap from such a project?
For high school students, one of the benefits in engaging in a Capstone Project is that it helps to highlight their academic accomplishments. It provides a suitable platform for students to exhibit the skills they’ve learnt in and outside of class.
This project allows students to demonstrate a wide array of skills needed at the university level – research, teamwork, planning, critical thinking and public speaking skills. By integrating these skills with a highly challenging project, it is a good indication to prospective universities how well students will fit into their rigorous program.
The Capstone Project also prepares students for college by increasing their self-confidence and providing them with a sense of preparedness. When a student successfully completes such a comprehensive project and forges a good working relationship with the mentor, his sense of self-worth is increased, and he thinks he can adapt to the next university phase.
Engaging in a capstone project enables students to immerse themselves in their field of passion. For some students, it deepens their level of interest in a certain field, whereas for others, it allows them to finally realize such a major may not be as interesting as they thought it would be. Either way, it helps to path their future major to a certain extent.
Does every student have to complete a Capstone Project?
As long as this project does not interfere with students’ normal learning activities and extracurricular engagement, completing this high intensity project is akin to getting a badge of honor. The focus is on finding a good balance between undertaking this project and other important activities. Students are not encouraged to take on this project if it means sacrificing too much of their study and extracurricular time, to the extent it affects their GPA grades.
On a more personal level, students should ask themselves what they want to accomplish via this Capstone Project. The best projects are often the ones coming from a passionate student. If students have a genuine interest to want to attempt a research in this field, it should be encouraged to pursue this project, as his passion and knowledge could be shown through it. If a student’s main goal is just to impress the university, then there is a good chance there are other better ways to make an impression on the school that is more in line with the interests of the students.
How can I choose a project that is suitable for me?
Business field: Research digital marketing, develop digital marketing plans for local businesses, help increase awareness and drive sales.
STEM: Learn about video game or application development, conceptualization, design, and build a game or application demo.
Track and Field: Research training and nutrition, develop training plans and diets, and perform in sports competitions (such as triathlon or marathon).
Community Services: Understand the work done by non-profit organizations, gain first-hand experience of volunteering at local non-profit organizations, and develop plans to create an organization that serves the community.
Film: Study how to make an effective public service announcement, and write, direct, and film a public service report that addresses issues in your community.
The Capstone Project is just one way for high school students to transit to colleges—enrich their experiences and to impress admission officers. It is a great way to integrate all the work that students do in their high school career to complete a unique self-introduction.