I struggled to write my letter this week. Right now, I feel all out of advice. In fact, I feel like I could use all the advice. Senior year, what a terrifying time.
When I tried to think about topics I’ve yet to cover, I realized I’ve only ever complained about my thesis. Not discussed it. Maybe this will help you get started when the time comes or stop someone from spiraling into a panic like I did. Then again, I think panic is part of the process.
My thesis story starts second semester last year, when I realized I was graduating early and wasn’t sure if I even wanted to write one. I reached out to my now committee chair with an email whose subject line read: “Help - Thesis Questions.” While I’d advise providing a potential thesis advisor with a bit more context than I did, you still should reach out—no matter where you are in the process.
My chair helped me work out a pro and con list of doing a thesis, the feasibility of doing a thesis in one semester and of course, a topic to write my thesis on. No, I didn't leave that initial meeting with a proposal to submit to CHC but I left with a game plan, and for me, that was a huge stress relief. I went in with no idea of what to do or any understanding of how the process worked. Reaching out to ask questions was the best thing I did.
It’s important not to forget that all of our professors were in the same spot we are if not also as an undergraduate, most definitely while getting their PhD. Not only do they serve as a resource because of their expertise in a certain field, they also know what we are going through. They know what writing a thesis and conducting original research takes. They’re proof that the process won’t kill you.
Here I am, five months later with a defense scheduled and 44 pages written. I’ve still got a ways to go but I’m going to finish it. And that alone is something I’m really proud of—even if I gained some gray hairs (made my grandma costume for halloween that much easier!) along the way.
See you soon,