The CAS Project is an exciting opportunity for young people to use their coupled learning and imagination to create a real, purposeful mission that will generate significant outcomes. Intended to be a personal and rewarding challenge, the CAS Project can address any single strand of CAS or combine two or all three strands of Creativity, Activity, and Service.
The important thing is that the project is guided by thoughtful consideration, planning, reviewing, and reporting. It is also a process that facilitates plenty of time for reflection on outcomes and personal learning. Suffice to say—there is so much potential to be gained from this dynamic undertaking!
However, a unique element of the CAS Project is that there are not prescribed topics or activities. The fact that it is self-determined is vital and means that all CAS Projects arise from student-initiated activities. This is a stimulating chance to explore different topics of interest or deepen ongoing activities. Still, as a student, it is also understandable if you find the abundance of choice overwhelming.
Your CAS Project might be the first time you have been given full reign over a plan of such proportion and, alongside a genuine desire to develop something meaningful, the pressure can be intense. Thankfully, creating a comprehensive action plan can go a long way to alleviating stress at the beginning and ensuring smooth sailing throughout the project’s completion.
In addition to following the 5 Stages of a CAS Project outlined here and sticking to an action plan format, we would like to expand on a few of the questions and considerations that can help develop a secure plan going in.
Do not underestimate the value of organization
Before starting anything, commit to maintaining thorough detail and imposing a structure on your thoughts and learnings. Many good ideas have been wasted because they were not implemented with proper design. When listing all of the tasks, resources, and equipment you will need—be scrupulous and do not take anything for granted. Plan a detailed timeline. Use a management tool, folder, or try creating a visual timeline to help you stay on track.
Take some time getting to know yourself better
Your CAS Project should reflect something unique about you and your ambitions. As a young person setting out to change the world, your actions are sure to have a much larger impact if you choose to work with an issue you already care about. Before settling on a topic for your project, ask yourself questions like:
- What interests and passions do you have?
- What existing skills would you like to develop further?
- What new skills are you eager to acquire?
- What global issues most resonate with you?
Create a primary or Venn diagram using these questions to find areas of overlap and mutual interest.
Keep your personal goals in mind
Ask yourself how a particular activity or project will challenge you. If you are undertaking an extension of a previous action, explain how you will be building on existing work. If starting a new one, provide justification for beginning it.
Undertake targeted local research
Having a wealth of information at our fingertips is a wonderful thing, but it can also be overwhelming. To effectively guide your choice of issue, it is vital to stay focused on realistic targets that can have a real impact on your local community.
Regardless of how far-reaching your area of interest is, it is also always advisable to devise a plan that will allow you to make an impact within your immediate surroundings.
Always SMART proof
Once you’ve settled on an idea you are excited about—it is time to apply the SMART goals metric.
- SMART What exactly do you want to achieve? Work through who, what, when, where, and why?
- MEASURABLE How are you going to quantify and track your project’s progress?
- ACTIONABLE What are you going to do?
- REALISTIC Your project aims and deadlines should be challenging, but are they realistic?
- TIMELY Does your action plan contain a practical step-by-step schedule with achievable deadlines?
Be honest about the challenges you will face
It is always good to go into a project with optimism and enthusiasm, but the truly well-prepared have also considered the potential roadblocks they will face. Large, meaningful endeavors rarely go smoothly from start to finish, so you should always be honest with yourself in anticipating the challenges you are likely to encounter along the way.
You will be less likely to be thrown off course and will have had a chance to consider alternative solutions or methods for action.