Thesis advice from a senior who’s been there


Lauren_RamseyerSenior year is upon many of us, or it is at least is rearing its scary head on the horizon. One of the most memorable assignments for many seniors is the writing of their theses.

I finished my thesis in the fall and I thought I would offer you all a few pieces of advice that you can carry with you.

First, wait until the last minute to start on everything — the pressure of a 24-hour deadline will make the quality of your work that much better.

Second, make sure to plagiarize on at least every other page. It will keep your adviser guessing the entire semester and may help you get out of school even faster (that’s what I’m told anyway).

Third, use tons of block quotes. It takes up more space, and it makes for less pondering on your part.

Fourth, don’t worry about proof reading. Who needs to edit their work? It is a real time-waster.

Fifth, make sure that you have Netflix on in the background at every stage of your writing process. Having that extra distraction during crunch-time can really help to add another level of confusion to your paper.

Okay, hopefully, you all caught on to the facetiousness of my above comments. Now that I’ve thrown some terrible advice at you, here are some sincere tips that you can use or merely read and discard.

One of the most important things: Don’t procrastinate on your thesis as I did on this column. It can be easy to let it sit on the backburner while your immediate homework gets done. The deadlines will sneak up on you.

If possible, write your thesis the semester before your last. I completed mine last fall, and while it made for a stressful fall semester, it has been nice to have this last semester just to enjoy classes, friends and a little more sleep.

Reward yourself as you hit the little milestones throughout the semester. This reward can be an extra nap, a pint of ice cream or a movie night with your friends, but make sure that you take time to celebrate the little things. It will make you feel better.

Start writing before you finish the preliminary steps of outlining and researching. While you still may be in the research phase of the semester, as you are sifting through information, jot down the points you want to use in a word document. It will make sorting out your thoughts across the pages much easier during the crunch time.

Make a scheduled time each week to work specifically on your thesis, regardless of your other homework. Treat these couple of hours like a class time — unavoidable.

Write and edit as you go. Do not save all of the proofreading until right before the deadline. While you won’t catch everything, you are more likely to figure out your mistakes if you read smaller chunks under less pressure.

Another idea is to swap your thesis with a fellow thesis-writer in your major for proof reading. They will know the standard of writing, style and citations needed for your particular major, and a fresh pair of eyes is always helpful for getting constructive criticism.

Last, but not least: Take care of yourself. Get as much sleep as possible, eat healthy food and don’t neglect other areas of your life. While your thesis is one of the great milestones of your college career and needs quite a bit of work to complete, there is life outside of school work. Take time to smell the roses.