By Alina Issakhanian
A little over two years ago, I made the decision to join the AP Capstone program, and a little over a week ago, I submitted my final portfolio to the College Board and officially completed the program. It was such an amazing feeling clicking the final “Submit” button after two years of hard work. It feels like I truly accomplished something.
The AP Capstone program is a College Board diploma program based on two courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. The program develops students’ research and argumentation skills through writing and presenting.
The AP Capstone diploma program requires the students to pass both the AP Seminar and AP Research exams as well as four other AP exams.
It is the perfect program for someone interested in researching and writing such as myself. Once you join the AP Capstone program, you jump into learning how to be an effective researcher, ask the right questions, and play around with some topics that could become the topic of one of your final research projects. These topics can range anywhere from “Religious Snake Handlers,” AP Capstone teacher Spencer Wolf’s favorite and frequently referenced topic, to something timely like systemic racism in America.
For me, this was a place where I could explore my true interests. In AP Seminar, you are required to complete two projects and an assessment. The first project is a group project with 2-3 other people from your class, and my group chose to research the opioid epidemic in America and explored solutions on how to stop it. The opioid epidemic has been a topic I have been interested in since my freshman year and being able to do thorough research for it was an exciting thing for me.
The second project is a research project as well. This one requires you to use a packet of readings, images, and mixed media, given by the College Board, under a theme of their choosing, to provide evidence for your topic. For this project, my topic was international radical groups and their connection to human well-being, which was genuinely one of my favorite things I had ever researched and written about. Being able to connect the thoughts of different academic journals and journalistic sources to create one paper is a very fun process.
AP Capstone allows students true freedom to research their interests. The program even allows students to conduct their own authentic research. I spent the spring semester of my senior year speaking with local female politicians on their experiences with sexism in the world of politics, which was an amazing opportunity I would not have had if it were not for AP Capstone.
“AP Capstone allowed me to expand and grow my knowledge,” senior Araz Balian said. “I really enjoyed exploring and studying real problems and finding possible solutions to solve them. Learning how to do proper research is a skill that will benefit me for the rest of my life. I also appreciate the great teachers who guided me throughout the two years and the amazing friendships I have developed through my experiences in AP Capstone.”
Although it was stressful at times researching for hours before a deadline, doing multiple rounds of editing, and staying after school to practice presentations with my group members, now, as a graduating AP Capstone senior, I would do it all over again, this time choosing a whole new set of topics.