Their excitement was palpable. It took the form of beer cans, sun burnt faces, and, in the case of Alex Weber ’06, a placard reading, “Done with my THESIS.”
Thesis writers sprawled out on Foss Hill yesterday, the final deadline for project submissions, in celebration of what for some has amounted to more than a year of research.
Particularly in the last few weeks, thesis writers’ routines have included late-night editing sessions and last-minute revisions. Their relief, in contrast, was overwhelming.
“It’s fun dumping loads of books on the counter and seeing facial expressions slip from horror to resignation,” said Alan Witt ’06, who borrowed over 90 books from Olin.
When the initial excitement fades, however, it is often replaced by feelings of emptiness and even sadness.
“When I just finished I was happy with it and then I decided I hated it,” said Christie Roberts ’06. “So I decided not to think about it. It’s a bit like postpartum depression.”
“I miss it and I think about it all the time,” said Bronwyn Wallace ’06. “Handing it in, I felt like a mother feeding her baby to a dragon. Also, [I feel] fantastic. I’m proud of my monstrous progeny, even if I did have to feed it to the dragons in the end.”
For Wallace, who said her carrel became a ‘home,’ her schedule of late is not the only thing at stake. She will miss her thesis itself and, and perhaps more importantly, the thrill of innovation.
“The last week was when I loved it the most,” Wallace said. “I got to read it over, see a coherent argument where I didn’t expect one, and think ‘Hey, that was a great point to make!’ or ‘Gee, that was smart of me.’”
Even students who say they are glad to be finished are having difficulty not thinking in academic terms. Andrew Rozas ’06, for instance, who wrote a screenplay as a creative thesis for the American Studies department, said he has already begun work on a new script.
“Right after I finished I was too jazzed to sleep,” Witt said. “It was hard to sleep with all the catchphrases from my thesis bouncing around my head.”
“It’s still in my head,” Weber said. “I keep wanting to go back and edit and do stuff, but I’m really glad to be done with it.”
In the short term at least, thesis writers balk slightly at being asked about their future plans.
“What does it look like I’m doing?” said Sarah Montgomery ’06, raising her bottle of beer.
“I need to do laundry,” said Jess Schoolman ’06.
Many of her companions, also celebrating their theses, murmured in agreement.
Once their giddiness subsides, thesis writers must do in six weeks what the rest of their class has been doing for seven months: enjoy their final year at college, unfettered.
“This is the last appropriate time of your life to drink in daylight and to just not really know what your purpose is,” Roberts said.
“I’ve got two months left with people who mean a lot to me and I haven’t gotten to spend any time with them,” Weber said. “[I plan on] running around barefoot with the people I care about.”
He insists he delivered his thesis barefoot as well.