Secrets of Writing a Capstone Essay
Well, here you are, at the culmination of your college career thus far. The capstone essay is maybe the most important thing you’ve ever written. Are you feeling intimidated yet? Well don’t worry. The principles for writing a great capstone essay are pretty much the same as any other kind of academic writing you’ve done so far. You should have a good idea by now what makes for a good essay. But even if you haven’t paid the least bit of attention and have no idea how you got this far, you can still write a great capstone essay. Here are some secrets to success:
- Choose a subject you have passion for. Capstone essays are intensive projects. Since you are going to be spending so much time with this subject, you’re going to end up hating your own work if you write about something that doesn’t interest you
- Create a great thesis statement. Even though the thesis statement will be no more than two sentences, the thesis is the most important one or two sentences in the paper. It is the cornerstone upon which the whole paper will be built. Your main idea should be expressed as clearly and concisely as possible. The best thesis will be the one you have the most evidence or the best logical arguments for. It’s a good idea to have someone else read your thesis to see if they find anything confusing or unclear about it.
- Use active reading strategies when doing research. Active reading basically means writing notes as you read. Think of it as having a conversation with texts. Write down your reactions in a notebook or in book margins. Underline or copy down important passages you think might be good quotations for the essay. Active reading also means rereading anything you don’t fully understand. Read widely, but try to be aware when a source is not going to be useful for your essay.
- Create an outline before you write your first draft. This will be like the skeletal structure of your essay. List the main points, and put them in a logical order so that your argument flows smoothly from the introduction to the conclusion.
- Reread your paper for grammatical, spelling, and logical errors. Have someone else read your paper as well. Often others will catch mistakes that we miss.
What is a Capstone Project?
What capstone project is exactly nobody knows. The reason is its versatility. If you are doing your final year of studying at college or university, you will definitely have to write one. It is considered as the investigation work, as your task is to make a research on a topic in the field of education, you specialize in.
The complexity of the capstone project is that it covers all the knowledge, which you have gained during the whole time of studying. The main idea standing behind any type of capstone project is encouraging students to apply their knowledge, skills and critical thinking.
What does a Capstone Involves?
A capstone, or a keystone, in architecture is an upper, middle stone in the arch. Its peculiarity is that it is the last stone to be placed, thus locking all stones in the arch into the right position. In academics a capstone plays the same role: the final opportunity to order the knowledge and test yourself for all gained experience. That’s why, your main task is to show the most and the best of your skills and abilities.
Before you proceed, it is important to identify the requirements for the project. You may be assigned a mentor for your work. Discuss all the necessary details, such as the deadline, the working schedule, the type of notification (e-mail, in person, etc) and share your ideas for the topic. Do not hesitate to ask questions – your mentor is the “foreman” for your arch.
Now, it’s the right time for some preparation!
- First of all, make a list of all essays, research and other academic papers, project and even tests and exams, which you have submitted to taken in the course of your studying (from the freshman year to graduate one);This will help you take an overall view from the top on what you have been working on.
- Then write a short description to each of them. By the end of the year our head is blazes like on a hot July day. Refresh it with your short list.
- Secondly, capstone projects are very similar to research papers, so find those, which you have already written, and refer to them;
- Select a topic, which is interesting to you and make sure your mentor approves it. Make it sounds sophisticated and remember that it should cover as much material understudy as possible;
- The next stage is to collect a solid number of reputable references. You make check the necessary literature in the books, science journals, monographs of famous academicians. Write all used sources down carefully, as you will have to provide them in your project.
- Take notes and make drafts on your capstone project. Take the information from your previous papers, and add some new information;
- The introduction and conclusion should be written at the last turn, as you are to give the list of your work, which is easy to do, if you have the main body written;
How to Choose a Topic?
Sometimes professors give you a list of topics, but you can also come up with your own topic. Write about something, which is really interesting to you, as capstone project is time-consuming and requires profound research, you should be passionate about what you are doing.
Worth of Taking into Consideration
Usually, there are certain requirements to the capstone essay formatting on the website of the university. In case there is none, we offer you the most common ones:
- The length of capstone project should be 45 pages or more;
- You should use not less than 15 sources, which you are to indicate in the reference list;
- It should contain the table of contents, introduction, the research work, conclusion and the list of reference. A lot of serious work to be done, don’t you think?
- Use reference management software to format the list of references. For example, Papyrus or Mendeley. Moreover, the style of reference management varies from one university to another. Pay precise attention to what style you should be using.
Speaking of content
As long as you have a topic in your disposal, the next major step is formulation of a thesis statement. It is vitally important to make it clear and precise. Continuing with architecture references, the thesis is a foundation, the base, on the top of which you are going to build the whole project.
If you don’t want a capstone turn into stumbling block, work on a plane. As you refreshed the material in your head, you have an approximate idea of what to write about, so make a plan draft.
Reading through the literature before actually proceed to writing will help you outline the target points of work and clarify what materials you lack.
We recommend working on the introduction and conclusion in the very last turn. They will be easier to formulate, when you know what you have been writing about.