Events / On Campus

The Thesis Survival Guide

BY JENNIFER GAGLIARDI

As we move towards finals and the end of the school year, many juniors are already preparing for the fall, where they’ll have to face a huge challenge: Senior Thesis. Luckily, once you wade through all the hype, thesis isn’t so bad; it can actually be a really fun and rewarding experience. Here are some helpful tips from students who survived and a representative of the Academic Center.

First, pick a topic that interests you. Many departments either allow you to pick your own topic or select one from a broad list. Choosing to write about something you like can make a world of difference for the quality of your paper and your stress level throughout the process. Marina Hallaran, a Psychology major, said “I loved thesis, it was easy because I got to pick my own topic that interested me.” Normally it wouldn’t seem like thesis could be fun, but by using your own creative control, you can make the process much easier.

Stress and anxiety seem to be the biggest problems that seniors face during the process. Writing 30 pages or more can sound pretty impossible at first. However, once you get the ball rolling, it gets easier over time. “I was really anxious before I started, I was not confident about writing 30 pages” explained Chris Scipioni, English major. “At 15 pages, I felt great, and that’s when I really enjoyed writing it.” If you start to get overwhelmed by the page count, remember this: tons of people have survived this process and so can you.

If you’re considering writing a thesis in another language, then it poses a whole new challenge. Diana Pérez, a Spanish and Child Study major, wrote her thesis en español. “It was really hard because the articles I had to cite were in English, and I had to translate them to Spanish,” she said. “But I really enjoyed writing it because I chose a topic that I enjoyed.” Thesis can be a great time to challenge yourself, and writing in another language is a great way to do that.

If you’re really struggling in the middle of thesis, the Academic Center is a great place to go. Supervisor Katie Blumenthal tutors thesis students in subjects including English, psychology, child study, and history, among others. She has a wealth of knowledge, and she is extremely helpful. Katie sees a lot of students for thesis, and she has become an expert in the key tips and tricks to succeed.

When asked about common problems with thesis students, she stated that organization is key to a good paper. “A lot of students don’t do the proper research,” she explains, “note taking is also an issue, they don’t have a system or an organizational method.” Outlines are often required as a part of the process, so definitely take them seriously. It may seem like a mundane task, but a well-organized outline can really help you when you’re deep into your work.

Asking for help when you’re stuck is the most beneficial thing that you can do for yourself. “Most students don’t seek help because they don’t realize that brainstorming is beneficial,” Katie explained. “Sometimes all the student needs is someone to ask them questions.” Seeking help is an important part of your process and can be key to better understanding your own ideas.

Overall, thesis is a very important part of your senior year. It combines everything that you’ve learned in classes for your major, and it shows how much you’ve grown as a student. It seems like a very daunting task, but with the right preparation, it can be an extremely rewarding, and even fun, experience.

 

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