The senior thesis is a rite of passage at a liberal arts college, and one that requires a fair amount of dedication, time and effort. It’s an exhilarating ride, and once it’s over you’ll feel like a million dollars, however getting there can sometimes be a pretty daunting slope to climb. Developing your senior thesis is not just an overnight decision; it takes lots of planning, reworking and rewriting, and sometimes even re-thinking your stance. However, there are some effective strategies that we’ve rounded up that can help you put your best foot forward with your thesis, and avoid all of the headaches, blunders and setbacks.
This doesn’t just mean avoid trying to get your thesis done all in one night the night before, this means avoiding all-nighters all together. With a senior thesis, you’re trying to convey one point using a lot of extremely well constructed arguments, not just write up a storm. That’s why you need to be at your clearest and most focused mentally. No matter how much you think pulling an all-nighter helps your writing, editing your sloppy work from 3am last night after you’ve rested will make you well aware that it doesn’t. That means you’ll have to learn how to budget your time.
While waiting for inspiration to strike can seem like a great idea, it’s also a terrific way to procrastinate and end up with nothing done. Carve out a block of time in your schedule every day to sit down and write, or research your thesis. Even if you don’t like what you’ve written, you’ve at least grappled with ideas, tried them out and gotten them out of the way. Constantly being in the frame of mind to write and research your thesis on a daily basis means you’ll always be going over the ideas in your head, reworking them and making sure they’re sound.
One-on-One Advisor Meetings
This is paramount to a good thesis, plenty of meetings with your thesis advisor. They’re the ones who have been through this and more, and they can steer you in the right direction, help you condense ideas, come up with new ones, and give you new ways to approach your ideas. Meeting with your advisor as much as possible is a great way to not only ensure that you keep working on your thesis, but that you can shape it to be your best work.
The Library is your Best Friend
There’s no better ally in your battle against a liberal arts degree senior thesis than the library. Teeming with research papers, scholastic journals, and exceptionally helpful librarians who, if you ask them nicely, will provide you with more information about your topics than you thought possible. A liberal arts university will pride itself on its library system, and Shimer's librarians are no exception.
The main thing is to stay focused and chip away at the thing little by little each day. Begin from a perspective of true curiosity, choosing a subject you will be inspired to develop to its full potential, then work in focused bursts until your inevitably successful completion.