Thesis of a thankless experience
Trust me, this will save you a lot from a lot of anxiety in the future. Establish a relationship with a professor early on and ask them if they would be willing to work with you. This will depend on how quickly you identify your thesis topic, or at least the subject area that you are interested in studying. Find someone who will give you feedback and steer you in the proper direction.
This was my biggest issue. For those of you working with data, it takes a really, really, really, really long time to get your data to where you need it to be. This process took just as long as writing my thesis because I tried to get my dataset perfect for analysis. Just be cautious, make sure you allocate enough time for this part, and ask for help. Which, brings me to my next advice….
Rely on your peers and their thoughts during this process. They are going through this too. Your advisor and other professors are always more than willing to discuss your topic with you and will point you in the right direction.
Finally, use your friends, family, classmates, roommates, pets, whoever you can, to edit your paper and look it over! This will go such a long way, and having fresh eyes examine your piece will make it better in the end. This is easier said than done, I know. But I promise it will be rewarding if you stick to your plans.
If you spread out your writing across many days and weeks, it will not take as long trying to flesh everything out. Set aside a little time every day or every other day to devote towards your thesis. Once you have a first draft completed, first off, congrats! Take little chunks of your piece here and there and scrutinize them individually. I promise, this will all be worth it in the end! Stick to a plan of attack, seek out help, use these tips, and you will be able to make it.
There is a tremendous amount of advice available for students about to embark on a thesis, much of it is valid on the undergraduate level. The process of writing a thesis is, from experience, as challenging most people make it out to be. Second guessing and doubts are natural but putting things in perspective may be helpful. You are an upperclassman with plenty of experience with academic rigor.
This is no different, and well within your abilities. That being said, here is my advice on successfully writing a thesis.
Treat your supervisor right!
Just getting to this point is a tremendous achievement, congratulations! You are almost there. Yes, writing a thesis can be miserable, thankless, and stressful, at times. But — the older you get; the faster time passes. If you are ever feeling lost, remember that both your classmates and professors can be a resource. When I was feeling overwhelmed, it gave me comfort to think of the thousands of successful theses written.
The shared suffering of writing a thesis makes you part of the grand tradition of academia. At least someone wrote their thesis in less time, with less preparation, and with fewer resources just a suspicion, I have yet to confirm this.
The most valuable tool you bring to the table as a thesis writer is your experience. Trust your intuition, and work at a pace you are comfortable with. Congrats for getting to second semester senior year!
I just have a couple pieces of advice for you as you approach the end of your undergraduate career. That concludes my unsolicited advice column. Just remember what matters. Congratulations on making it to the final step in the CARI process!
There are 16 weeks in the semester, which puts you at less than 2 pages of writing a week. The more time that you spend freaking out about writing the thesis is less time that you spend writing it. I know that in my first few weeks in the course, I spent more time worrying about how much time the writing process was going to take than I did actually writing.
Once I realized how I was spending my time and started changing that worry-time into actually writing-time, the pages just piled up. Before this class, I was very unused to the editing process. For most of my other classes, even on big assignments, the most editing that an essay would get was a run through on Grammarly and reading it out loud to see if it sounded right.
Tools and Technology
Your first draft is just that. A draft. It is nowhere near what the final product will look like, and will be significantly clunkier and worse-sounding than your final thesis. The most important thing while writing the first draft is just to get words down on the page.
As long as your thoughts are at least marginally coherent on the first run through, your second and third drafts will be there to pick up the slack. This might be hit-or-miss depending on who your advisor is and how well you know them, but they are your number one asset on this thesis writing journey. In the first few weeks of the class I had at least four meetings with my advisor, and those were integral for me figuring out just what I was even saying with my hypothesis and research question. It was only through having this ongoing dialogue with my advisor that I was able to bring my idea from a wide-sweeping, unmanageable behemoth to an answerable question.
Asking my advisor questions about my field and prior bodies of research methods were incredibly helpful- I would have never thought to look in the places and disparate fields that he managed to dredge books and authors up from.
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