New AP Capstone Program Aims to Prepare Students for College, Careers

New AP Capstone Program Aims to Prepare Students for College, Careers

Cy'Asia Heyward, Staff Writer

According to 2016 findings from the National Center for Educational Statistics, about 40 percent of college freshman will not finish their bachelor’s degree in four years. Steve DiNenno, current gifted teacher at NAHS, does not want Norristown AP students to fall into that category.

Although there are many reasons for this, DiNenno thinks a lot has to do with preparation. DiNenno spoke of a time he was watching a television show that showed this problem. “Young people tried to start a business but didn’t know how because they didn’t know how to present or carry themselves,” he said. He sees the same flaws in many of his own students, and he intends to address them in his brand new course, AP Seminar.

AP (Advanced Placement) Seminar is a course fitted to help students with accuracy and precision to craft and communicate arguments with evidence. It demands a higher-level of thinking than non-AP courses. The first of two courses in the AP Capstone program, AP Seminar allows students to take a more challenging class that will help in their future college classes and careers. Instead of focusing on a specific subject, however, this course along with its counterpart AP Research, develops students’ skills in research, analysis, evidence-based arguments, collaboration, writing, and presentation.   

Students who take this course will hopefully develop a deep understanding of complex issues and topics, but the course will help students prepare for college and strengthen their college transcripts. Students who score a 3 or higher on the AP tests in each class will receive and AP Capstone Certificate, and students who score a 3 or higher in those classes along with a 3 or higher in the AP tests of four other AP classes will receive an AP Capstone Diploma.

Colleges pay more attention to students with an AP Capstone Diploma.  “AP students have a better chance of being chosen for a certain college because they have skills that colleges want”, said DiNenno.

Students who take AP Seminar have many career choices and college major options. For example, if a student is interested in a career as a social worker, journalist, or a marketer, the skills they learn will serve them well in any path. “If you are presenting to a company but you don’t do research and don’t know what to say, it will affect how you are viewed,” said DiNenno.

AP students are expected to be consistent with work and be able to handle a large amount of work given by the course teacher.  “AP courses are very time consuming, so it isn’t recommended to take more than 1 the first time you take an AP course and take 2 more the next year,” said DiNenno.

AP courses are available for students once they are in 10th grade because their counselors have to be sure they can handle the workload. Students should take AP Seminar and AP Research before they take those AP courses because all the information they will learn will be needed to succeed in other AP courses.

Many of this year’s ninth and tenth graders have already selected AP Seminar for next year, so hopefully current AP teachers will see a more prepared group of students in future classes.


More information about the AP Capstone Program and AP Program can be found at the College Board website.