Preparing for the Future: AP Capstone


Emily Moore

Students meet early in the morning to work together on AP Seminar assignments

Emily Moore and Nicole Miller

Some of you may have noticed that your friends seem to get to school earlier than usual, and seem to fall asleep at their desk in class by lunch time. There’s always a paper cup of coffee attached to their hand, or in one of the net pockets on either side of their backpacks. What is driving them to get to school so early? Why can’t they ever seem to stay awake, even after they down their second cup of coffee, despite your advice?


The answer: AP Capstone.


The Capstone Program, according to Rachel Monday, English and AP Seminar teacher, is “a program by the College Board where they are trying to give credit to students who are doing really exceptional work.” 


She elaborates, “It is a program where students take two courses, AP Seminar and AP Research, and then they do a research project as part of that second class and present it to a faculty oversight board.”


Typically, AP Seminar is taken in a student’s junior year, and AP Research is taken in a student’s senior year.  The classes can be taken separately, however. 


“I’ve got a senior right now who’s just going to take Seminar, so you’re not required to take the whole thing,” Monday says. “But if you want the Capstone diploma then you have to take both courses, and complete them with a 3 or above on the exam.”


Participating in the program specifically requires you to take both AP Seminar and AP Research, but as mentioned previously, you must take three other AP classes and score a three or higher on those exams. Because of this, it is a little difficult to fit into a busy schedule.


Meredith Rogers, science teacher and future AP Research teacher says, “I think it’s difficult no matter what you do. Because we offer so many AP classes anyway, students that want to take those upper level classes, they’re kind of locked into a certain number, and it’s hard to take more than what’s available, or even all of what’s available.” 


This year, AP Seminar is only offered at 7:30 a.m., but administrators are working on getting it into the regular schedule for future years.


Capstone is also a very rigorous course to take, but Monday and Rogers don’t want students to shy away from the challenge. They want students to embrace the challenge and want to participate in the courses for the betterment of themselves and the world around them. 
“[We’re looking for] anybody who has a real zest for learning and intellectual curiosity, and doesn’t shy away from hard work,” Monday says. “People who are motivated to make change in the world. Writing skills are a plus, but you can get by without them.”


Rogers says that they are also looking for students who are adamant about college preparation. “It’s going to be those that are trying to really prepare themselves for college and for success in their careers,” she comments.  “And that’s not to say that everybody isn’t going to do that, but it’s less the career and technical education stuff. It’s less of that and more of the technical understanding and the technical writings. I think it’s a deeper thought process than just, ‘hey, here’s the instructions and you’ve got to follow the pictures.’”


Despite the rigorous nature of the course, both Monday and Rogers agree that it is transformative for a student’s future.


“The diploma and the competitiveness is great, that is one positive aspect of it. But to me, and this is something that I heard repeated over and over again from everybody I’ve talked to involved in AP Capstone, is that it’s a real game changer for students,” Monday states. “You’re moving from being able to identify problems to actually coming up with solutions to those problems. It’s taking all the knowledge that you get, and actually applying it to something. It’s graduate-school level kind of stuff, but you’re getting to do it in high school, which puts you at an advantage when you move on to higher education.”


Rogers states, “I think it will better prepare them for college-level research as well as even going into Masters and Doctoral programs.” She continues, “I think it’s going to better prepare them as far as doing [things] in what I call the ‘real world,’ doing documents and reports and a lot of the paperwork that may go behind some of the lower level jobs and even more of the higher level jobs, like executives [and other things like that]. They’re going to be more versed in being able to read and understand technical documents. Maybe even a part of writing some of those in whatever chosen career that they have.”


In terms of content, Seminar focuses on argument, both creation and analysis. Monday explains, “We’ve [Seminar] been looking at a lot of different arguments and analyzing them, breaking them down. We do debates, we talk about research skills, we read a lot of articles on different topics and look at arguments from all sides. In the second semester, they will be taking skills and applying it to their own research.”


Research helps with research, of course, mostly to aid in future thesis writing for a wide variety of topics, according to Rogers.


While all of this is true, there are still a few things that are expected of students taking this course, “They have to agree to take the classes [Seminar and Research]. They have to agree to take at least three other AP classes in order to get the Capstone diploma..” says Monday. As mentioned before, a student can still take the course and not wish to receive the Capstone diploma. 


Monday then goes on to explain more about the exam portion, “Of course, the exam is for those, you really do most of the work in class. Then you have to take three other AP classes and make a 3 or above [on the exams].” 


With that being said, the majority of content on the exam is covered or touched on within the course. AP Capstone is a course that prepares students for the academic challenges they may be faced with in the future. 


Of course there are the technical requirements of AP Capstone. But, what about when it comes to student work-ethic and drive? What kinds of personal expectations are placed on them? Rogers states that these types of qualities are some of the big indicators of student success in this particular course. 


“The first word that came out of my mind was dedication. Second word that comes to my mind is motivated, being very highly motivated,” says Rogers. 


She states that these kinds of students are those who wish to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the subjects presented to them. Not only that, but to be motivated to push themselves further. “For me, being that kind of a student isn’t necessarily being the smartest or the most intelligent as labels. It is that desire to succeed and that desire to be the best that you can be as an individual, and wanting yourself to grow,” Rogers comments.


Students involved in the course were also happy to give their opinions on how they believe AP Capstone has aided them. We heard from one particular student named Meredith Morgan. 


“I think it’s a pretty good idea! I think that it does benefit a lot of students who may not have the opportunity to do any extracurricular activities, or anything that’ll stand out on a college application,” Morgan said. 


She explained that the skills learned in AP Capstone can be transferred over to college studies, and even in everyday life. She also said that it might make the particular students having taken the course stand out from others. With that, Morgan added, “They have this opportunity that’ll make them different than other applicants for college.”


Morgan also explained that some of the different things required of students can be difficult to commit to, such as the 7:30 a.m. start-time. She listed this early start to the day as one of the more difficult requirements, “One, get up early enough. That’s a really tough commitment!” Morgan then continued with, “And then I guess all the work, because it’s an extra class that you may not be feeling… Just the workload and having that extra class.” 


Another thing said about the course was again the question of what kinds of students would excel in it, yet from a student perspective. Morgan explained that anyone is capable of doing well, they just simply need to have the right work ethic and class readiness. 


As mentioned before, AP Capstone is a program that can help students gain multiple different skills and can aid in a variety of subject matters. Morgan confirmed that by saying, “AP Capstone is actually helping me with AP Lang… so it’s benefitting more than one class that I have, and other classes that I’m taking.” She then said that, as said before, it’d help get into good colleges by giving her an advantage by being on her applications. 


With that being said, students have an overall positive outlook and viewpoint on the AP Capstone program. And, Morgan said she would recommend the course to students who are interested or upcoming by replying with a short and sweet, “Yeah!” when asked about it. 


That should be one of your biggest indicators to join AP Capstone! 


So far, it seems as though the AP Capstone course has been extremely beneficial to students and has also had great success. “So far I think it’s gone excellent. I’ve been very pleased with how it’s kind of built itself so far, how it’s structured,” says Rogers. 


Monday also expressed her thoughts on how the course is going for those involved. “I think the students are responding well to it. It’s very challenging,” she says. Monday continues, “So far, they’re doing an amazing job.”


Both Monday and Rogers believe the students in AP Capstone are also doing well in terms of the content they are learning. “I feel like they are understanding the concepts that we’re teaching them, and seeing the value in the depth of thought, just like we’ve talked about perspectives a whole lot,” says Rogers.


Even though the students are learning a curriculum-based type of content, they are also taking on new skills that may help them in the future. These particular skills are ones that aid in opinions, decision making, and viewpoints. 


Rogers explains, “I think it also helps you view things instead of being single-minded, and looking at things with blinders on. It opens up your view of the world and different careers, and how to look at things through different perspectives so that you can make decisions for the betterment of the most people.”


Rogers continues to say, “I feel like both of us still have a lot to learn, Mrs. Monday and myself, but I feel like for a first year and the caliber of students that we have in there, I feel like I’m seeing good progress from the students.”


Both Monday and Rogers believe that AP Capstone has a bright future ahead of itself. They are hoping that the course continues well into the future. When asked about continuation, Monday stated, “We are hoping so! Corum [Principal] is really on board with it.” 


On top of that, they believe the course is extremely beneficial in an academic and personal setting. It prepares students taking it for any challenges they may come across and provides a space for critical thinking. 


AP Capstone is also looking for students interested and excited to take it! The administrators of the course are always welcoming new people. “We’re hoping to recruit a lot of students in 9th and 10th grade into it,” says Monday. 


Monday also would like to start introducing it to students at the Middle School level to start gauging student interest. “And at the middle school level start talking to them about it, because it really is an amazing opportunity for those students who can do it,” Monday explains. 


All in all, the AP Capstone course is one that is very beneficial in preparing students for their future, and provides them with skills that they can carry with them throughout their careers and more. 


If you are interested in participating in the AP Capstone program at Karns High School, or in taking Seminar or Research, please contact Mrs. Monday in room 123 or Ms. Rogers in room 201.