AP Capstone Seminar

This past school year I took a chance and decided to try my hand at AP Capstone Seminar, a course new to Farmingdale this year. As the class was promoted to mostly the freshman class last year, I had the unique and “special” honor of being the only junior to partake in the course. While there were some ups and downs surrounding my personal experience with the class, now that I’m done with what many believe to be the hardest part, the IMP/IWA, I feel that I can finally give my opinion on the whole process. It’s, hard; like, harder than nearly everything else I’ve done school-wise.

While most classes see the typical AP class structure of classwork, test prep, and the eventual test, AP Capstone has you working on the AP throughout the entire year. From November to May, I spent my free time and weekends working on each part of the AP test, with tasks ranging from working on a group essay, to writing and presenting my own eight minute presentation. And while some parts of the course are just more in-depth versions of something most students do in their regular classes, like an argumentative essay, ten-minute long, scripted, and memorized group presentations are a whole other beast. In my mind, I’ve divided the class’s key components into two main camps: the somewhat manageable group, and the far scarier, and stressful part. Surprisingly, the actual class AP test itself has caused me the least amount of stress. That’s not to say it should be overlooked, but in comparison to the other parts of the class, it’s a nice refresher at the end of the year. On the other side are the individual and team multimedia presentations, that combine the research and work associated with an essay, with the fear that comes with public speaking.

While it may seem like the class is an insurmountable task, and believe me, it definitely feels like that at first, as the year goes on, that feeling begins to lessen more and more. That’s not to say the class is perfect for everyone, but it’s not rocket science. If you’re somebody who has issues committing to a class time, than maybe look towards another AP, and definitely don’t take the class if you have a seething rage against public speaking or research papers. This class is more geared towards students who enjoy that style of work, who are looking to challenge themselves, or who want to show colleges what they can do.

In some ways, AP Seminar may just be the most unique AP class Farmingdale has to offer. Besides the AP test itself being divided into parts you complete throughout the year, it is also divided into two separate parts. Students who took the class this year, and passed, are eligible to take AP Research next year. Research retains the core teachings and format of Seminar, but differs in its workload. Rather than writing two research papers, giving two presentations, and taking an AP exam, Research sees students work on a single paper and presentation that they are given the whole year to work on.

It’s definitely a challenge, but taking AP Seminar doesn’t mean you’re in for the long haul. AP Research is optional, and I can understand why some students may not want to continue with the course, but for those who are seeking to impress a college with their efforts should definitely push on. You see, students who take both AP Seminar and AP Research, and score a 3 or higher on four other AP exams will receive Capstone Distinction on the high school diploma, a high honor that few have. As I stated before, I am the only junior who took AP Seminar this year, and since I already have AP Research locked into my schedule next year, I will hopefully become the first student to graduate from Farmingdale High School with Capstone Distinction.

The AP Seminar experience has been a strange, yet rewarding, one for my junior year. While balancing all the tasks it threw at me began to wear me down, the sense of pride and accomplishment I felt when I handed in my final paper, or finished my presentation, was like none other. If you’re a current 9th grader, look to see if AP Seminar interests you, as it can expose you to the work you’ll face in college years in advance, and supply you with the tools to tackle them.