Greetings, this is a heavy subject that weighs on my mind, body, and soul. The AP Capstone program that has recently been implemented by AMHS to replace Senior Thesis has single-handedly been the biggest contributor to my stress throughout my junior and senior years. I have many issues with this program and the way it has been executed, and I feel inclined to share the strong emotions I have for these classes in light of recent conversations I’ve held with my close counterparts. I feel as though the content of this article will be relatable and touch on many concerns of students who have experienced these courses.
The first phase of Capstone starts junior year with AP Seminar, a course that tests students on their ability to conduct insightful research questions and analyze the content of research papers while simultaneously creating their own. From my experience with AP Seminar, I realized that this class is all-encompassing and requires you to write research papers and present your findings individually and as part of a team. I was fortunate enough to be taught by the lovely Ms. Smith, and I am forever grateful for the guidance I received in her class. Although the workload is heavy and seems redundant, I was able to gain an understanding of what it takes to write and analyze a good research paper.
Overall this class was not terrible, and I even had fun some days (shocker). I see a lot of value in AP Seminar and truly believe it is beneficial for all students to take, especially with college around the corner. There were many times when I was consumed with stress and simply wanted to quit due to the overwhelming facets I had to consider throughout this course, but I guess that is just part of the process.
Here’s where things start going downhill. The second phase of Capstone begins senior year in AP Research. The college board describes this course as “[Building] on what you learned in AP Seminar to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, or issue of individual interest. Through this exploration, you will design, plan, and conduct a year-long research-based investigation to address a research question.” In my opinion, it’s kind of vague and really leaves you wondering what exactly does this mean. In a way, this opens many doors to a potential research topic, but at the same time, it is unlimited in what you can do. Despite the fact that you are given complete freedom to decide on a research topic, it is too broad, making it hard to meet the criteria of the College Board (if you care enough). It can be hard to check all of the boxes for this class if you choose to research a topic that doesn’t necessarily align with the traditional standards of the course. This has become a problem for me and many other students who have chosen topics that are difficult to gather new data for due to legality and accessibility issues.
Aside from the vague nature of this course, there is a lack of guidance throughout the year on how to handle your research. While there is some guidance and review of what you should be doing it is not as clear and rigorous as AP Seminar which allows for procrastination and laziness to bite you in the butt. Yes, it is my fault that I am stressed over AP Research at the end of the year because I failed to keep up with the class, but I am also a senior experiencing intense senioritis, so it’s expected that I would let such a large project creep up on me.
Most importantly, I feel as though AP Research is a repetition of AP Seminar and quite frankly it is useless to my education, especially as a senior. I have had a monkey on my shoulder this entire year due to AP Research and quite frankly I am over it. Put me out of my misery, please, and thank you.
I would highly recommend that it is considered that sophomores/juniors take the AP Capstone program because I believe it will be more beneficial to them as they are in the midst of high school rather than on the tail end. I will be honest when I say that seniors do not care one bit about their research projects (that’s generally speaking, I know many students have worked hard which is valid). Completing the AP Capstone program with the bare minimum is more than enough for me and I am ready to move on from this wretched state of purgatory.