AP Seminar: preparing students for the future

August 29, 2019


For the first time in Manatee County, students are being prepared for college, specifically college research and essays, in a whole new way. The AP Capstone Diploma Program, based on year-long AP classes Seminar and Research, has now been introduced to Manatee High School’s College Preparatory Academy. AP Seminar is the first component being taught to sophomores and will be followed by AP Research next year. As one of two classes in Manatee County Public Schools, this is genuinely¬† a learning year for both students and teacher Lori O’Leary, who is a first time teacher of the course.

“I’m excited about it, and I am also extremely nervous about it, because I know I owe a lot to my students to make sure that they are as prepared as they can be to be able to pass the test and I am also responsible to the school because we are one of only two schools in the district who were selected to be able to do this,” said O’Leary.

An infographic explaining the AP Capstone Program. Found at CollegeBoard

AP Seminar is a rigorous course created by College Board, focused on research, writing and presenting knowledge at a level that will already have students set at a high bar for when they go to college. The course is also set up differently; it is the only AP class where the students’ AP score comes from essays and presentations throughout the year, not just the AP exam in May (the exam is only 45% of the students’ grade). Another concept that makes the AP Seminar exam different from all other AP tests is that in December the students have to get into teams of three to five and do one Team Multimedia Presentation (TMP) that is 10% of the exam score, but all the students get the same grade. AP Seminar is the only class where part of the grade is reliant on other students.

Despite the rigor of this class, students are still excited about it. Sophomore Grace Diggens is looking forward to how this will help her college preparation in the future.

“I think it’s really going to improve my researching skills, improve how I present things, how take classes in the future and how I prepare myself for them,” said Diggens. “She’s teaching us new skills that we can use when arguing and making our points and how to present them in a piece of writing and its a lot more intense than anything we’ve ever done before, but I think that’s what you need to get where you need to go in college.”

Student Seminar- Students in the AP Seminar class delve into research for their upcoming presentation. After the first two weeks of school, sophomore Grace Diggens said she liked the class. “I do enjoy it because I feel like it’s going to be really beneficial in my future and my college experience and my chances on getting into college. And I like the group of people in the class, it’s really fun,” said Diggens.

Even though this class is challenging, the reward for completing Seminar and Research is extensive. By completing the AP Capstone Diploma Program, students graduate with a second diploma. College applications also have a checkbox for AP Capstone, so colleges can see which students have completed this demanding course.

“They have just, this summer, added AP Capstone, a checklist, on to the front of the common application that you will be able to use for college and there is a place where you can check, ‘I am going to be an AP Capstone certificate recipient,’ and that makes you more marketable to these more prestigious universities,” explained O’Leary.

The accomplishment is not the only highlight of completing the program. Students will also leave with the ability to communicate information better in their everyday lives.

“I believe the students walking out the door are going to have a better understanding of how to academically have a conversation, how to academically argue, how to make a claim that they can actually link to resources,” said O’Leary. “Also, you are going to be presenting to that college level that you never had before, so you are going to training and be able to speak in front of anybody about anything.”

After this year, AP Seminar and AP Research will be mandatory for sophomores in the College Preparatory Academy. O’Leary believes that students who are looking into the class should try it.

“I would say, try it, this is one of those classes that is very different from any other AP class, its more skills-based than content based so because of that if you really have this passion for writing and researching and you really want to improve your own communication and writing skills, this is the class that you should make that attempt with.”




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