Your Questions About AP Capstone Answered

As the most recent introduction to not only Smithtown East’s Advanced Placement curriculum, but the College Board’s as well, the AP Capstone program has certainly peaked the interest and curiosity of tenth grade students and the school community at large. What is Capstone’s material like? What type of student who would prosper in the Capstone environment? How do the students enrolled in the course feel about it? What the benefits does the Capstone course provide for students’ futures?


AP Capstone is a two year program, separated by year into Seminar and Research. This year, the 2017-18 cohort for Seminar includes only juniors who anticipate rolling into Research as seniors. Students who complete both courses are awarded with a second Capstone diploma at graduation. Capstone differs from a standard English class because its base is “extensive research and [the expansion of] analytical skills,” as described by current Capstone student, Angela Walz.


Before settling on a two-year commitment, you may wish to speak with a teacher to elaborate on the course rather than just viewing the College Board’s description video, a brief promotional clip highlighting the benefits of the full two-year program, which was found to be a little misleading for seminar students in some cases.  For another Capstone student, Ariana Saccone, who found the “research aspect very appealing” along with the course’s open-endedness, she found it to be “just like any other English class” and stated how “the video definitely was false advertisement.”  


However, those who spoke directly with a teacher found the class to be a more accurate representation of what they were told.  Capstone student Skyler Baez, who discussed the course with a teacher beforehand, said although “it’s a lot harder than I expected…[my teacher] was spot on with how difficult it ended up being.”  He went on to say, “there’s a lot more writing than I anticipated,” and added jokingly that the type of student fit for this course is “somebody who has enough time on their hands to write a three page paper in one night.”


For the record, the AP Capstone teachers encourage time management, not procrastination.


Many students question what they will gain from taking this course. It seems current students find that there are an abundance of long term benefits that can be carried beyond high school.  Capstone student Katie Doyle explains, “I think it’s preparing me for college much better than a regular English class.” She also added that this course addresses research and writing papers in a way that may be useful in the future.  


Tom Fanning, another Capstone student, expands this thinking by stating how he’d “compare it to working with co-workers later in life” and how “it’s more than just school knowledge.” Students work “with tools and as teams to practice research.”


Smithtown East is two of thirteen high schools in Suffolk County that offer the Capstone program.