Senior Project: the phrase that drops the stomachs of all seniors and fills the junior class with dread. However, Senior Project does not have to be a dark rain cloud over senior year! With concrete advice, tips, and good questions, the Senior Project can be a rewarding experience that will benefit the student greatly. Even though there are some changes to the Senior Project next year, the overall goals and benefits of the project will remain the same. The Seton Connection has questions from juniors who are rising to the challenge, answers and other advice from successful seniors, and the many benefits that a Senior Project gives to all its participants!
There is a lot that goes into a Senior Project and it can sometimes be overwhelming to think about all the different aspects that have to go into a successful project. Al Kovacic, 2018 Senior Project coordinator, explains that a successful project involves: “choosing a topic that the student is passionate about; making a plan for time management throughout the year; utilizing her resources, especially people like her mentor; [and] having an open mind set for growth through the learning process.” These themes will be repeated throughout the advice and benefits section of this article because these are the key things that are needed for a successful Senior Project. Following the guidelines that these terms set will give the student the most benefit and growth throughout the project. Likewise, senior Grace Hertzfeld adds that some more key elements to a Senior Project are “being able to satisfy all the requirements…and making a clear and concise plan to follow.” Goal setting is really a huge part of what the Senior Project is about. Being able to break down those goals into short term and long term will make the project as a whole more attainable. Hertzfeld also adds that “when choosing your project, consider what you will write your research paper on, what your product may be, and how you will fulfill the 15 fieldwork hours.” As she said before, you must choose a project that meets all of the requirements, so have these requirements in mind as you are choosing! The themes of time management and utilizing resources and growing throughout the project are coming up. These are the main goals of the Senior Project. Realizing how to manage your time wisely is a vital skill that everyone will need in order to keep an organized life. The growth that a student has throughout the Senior Project is not something that can be taught in a conventional classroom, so one must really put all they have into getting the most benefit.
As juniors prepare to embark on their own Senior Project journey, they rightly have questions they need to be answered! So first, some quick Senior Project facts. Does your mentor have to be in the field of your Senior Project? No they do not! The purpose of a mentor is to guide you through your project and connect you with people who can help you. How many judges do you have to give your final presentation in front of? There are five judges for the final presentation. There is one head judge that will be a Seton teacher and then four are Seton teachers as well and outside adults. How long does your presentation have to be? About nine to ten minutes, but no longer than ten! How many pages does your research paper have to be? The research paper has to be eight to ten pages, not including the works cited page! Current seniors have also come forward to give advice based off their own experience with the Senior Project. Tricia McHale emphasizes that juniors should “choose a project which you genuinely feel you have an interest in because you will be spending your free time invested in the process. Don’t try to take on a project because you think it will be cool or impress people if it is not exciting to you.” The Senior Project is about personal self-growth, so choose something that interests you! Grace Hertzfeld adds that juniors should “choose a realistic project that interests them enough to spend a year on. Break your project down into one assignment at a time and don’t overcomplicate it.” Remember you only have a certain time frame to work on and complete your project, so be able to finish what you started! Obstacles will come but Tricia McHale explains that “remaining in the past and not moving forward would be the only way in which my project would be unsuccessful.” Overall, completing a Senior Project comes down to self-motivation, discipline, and doing something great for yourself or the community!
Despite grumblings of students about how much the project requires, it has numerous benefits. These benefits will carry students into college and all the way through their career! According to Al Kovacic, the main benefits of the Senior Project include: “the confidence a student gains in her ability to learn something new and to create her own project from conception to fruition, soft skills like talking to people she doesn’t necessarily know well, professional communication, networking, and time management, and learning how to confidently do academic research and write a college-level paper.” As explained, the Senior Project is meant to prepare and teach. It builds confidence in students so they know that they are capable of networking and building their own reputation, they are capable of doing independent research and writing it in an organized way, and they also know that they can give a lengthy presentation in front of a board of people to explain what they have learned. However, there are so many other things that one can learn that is unique to her Senior Project. For example, senior Grace Hertzfeld learned how to buy a house for her Senior Project. In her experience she, “gained a lot of knowledge regarding the housing market, the financial crisis of 2008, and the process of buying a house…I achieved my initial goal of preparing myself to make an educated decision when the time comes to purchase my first home.” Projects like Grace’s prepares a student for life even more by decoding complex process such as buying a house. These vital skills can only be gained through an independent process of self-growth that the Senior Project requires. Everyone who participates in the Senior Project has a new skill or strengthened value that comes out of it and will carry them through whatever school or career path they choose.
The Senior Project, as daunting and stressful as it may seem, is a highly beneficial experience for students. It teaches individual lessons that classrooms just cannot. If you feel nervous or unprepared to take on your own Senior Project, talk to a senior! As their own projects are coming to a close, they are bound to have some knowledge to share with you. However, keep in mind the changes that will be made for next year’s project. These include the project being more academic based, the whole project will take place in the second semester, and there will be no product requirement! Remember that the ultimate goal of the Senior Project is to prepare you for what is next and to give you the skills and empowerment you need to do great things in the world.