It’s that time of year again. Beleaguered seniors dot campus, hunched over a laptop, frantically editing, rewriting, citing, and trying to get their culminating theses wrapped up before the deadline. It’s an all-too-familiar scene. So, in these trying times for our senior class, I thought I’d provide some relief and look through the post-thesis celebrations of old.
Obviously, the Wednesday April 19 deadline is not here yet, and work is still at the forefront of many minds. In a 2016 article entitled “Thesis The End: One Final Push as Deadline Approaches” by then-Staff Writer Sarah Connolly ’19, The Argus sat down with some seniors who were in the home stretch of writing theses, much as our seniors are now.
One of the students interviewed Nina Gurak ’16, a Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (FGSS) and Government double-major, faced the unforeseen challenge of getting concussed early in the spring semester of her senior year.
“I was playing dodgeball at a trampoline park in Hartford and a middle school kid hit me in the face and gave me my fifth concussion,” Gurak said in the article. “It was very slow to heal, so I had to step away from my thesis for four or five weeks. It was really hard to not be working on it, but I think the space was probably for the best because it made my thesis better. I think the moral of the story is don’t go to trampoline parks if you’re working on your thesis. That was a recipe for disaster.”
Even so, Gurak persevered and completed her thesis, largely thanks to the passion she had for its subject. Her thesis, entitled, “Why Did the Rapist Cross the Road?: The Case for the Feminist Rape Joke,” was something she felt strongly needed to be researched, motivating her to push through the post-concussion haze and finish it.
Another subject of Connolly’s article, Government and College of the Environment double-major Nick Murphy ’16, emphasized the importance of planning ahead for a thesis—a lesson that our dear seniors have hopefully already learned, or perhaps are learning right now.
“I would have been much better about managing a writing schedule,” Murphy said in the article. “Half the battle is figuring out how to tackle the thing rather than putting it together. I ended up making an outline and writing section by section. I found that really helpful, but I came to it kind of late. For a long time, I thought I would just write this thing from beginning to end, but you really just end up writing from all kinds of angles and having to tie it all up in the end.”
Whether or not this advice comes too late for current thesis writers, it can still serve as a helpful guide for those of us who are looking to avoid stress down the line. In any case, two themes are echoed by all the subjects interviewed in the article: devotion and relief. Passion about the topic and the knowledge that light is at the end of the tunnel kept these diligent scholars going, as they keep our current thesis-writers chugging along.
The thesis deadline always looms large as a stressor for the senior class, but the moment that deadline passes, a huge weight is lifted off of an entire class’s shoulders. Celebration becomes the norm. For decades, weary thesis-writers have rejoiced in the end of their projects with friends, drinks, and sunshine. A 2006 article in The Argus by then-Features Editor Dana Wollman ’06 entitled “Thesis writers readjust to a less stressful spring life” shared some images of this day.
“[The thesis writers’] excitement was palpable,” Wollman wrote in the article. “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.’”
Wollman paints a picture of ecstatic relief and satisfaction as the class of 2006’s thesis writers accepted that their undergraduate academic culmination was written, turned in, and finally done.
“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,” Wollman wrote. “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.”
As with any long-term project—especially one that epitomizes a year of research, writing, and creation—seniors reported still feeling their theses lingering in the back of their minds after they had finished their work.
“It’s still in my head,” Weber said in the article. “I keep wanting to go back and edit and do stuff, but I’m really glad to be done with it.”
Yet, despite the ghosts of these projects still haunting their authors, thesis season was over for them, and soon it will be over for this year’s seniors as well. Your work is coming to an end and you should be proud of it. Devote yourself to this last week of work, then pop champagne on the steps of Olin, lie on Foss, leisurely enjoy your last month of college.
For those of you who, like myself, are not writing a thesis right now, remember the pressure all your thesis-burdened friends are under, cut them some slack, and, when the deadline passes, party with them like there’s no tomorrow.
“This is the last appropriate time of your life to drink in daylight and to just not really know what your purpose is,” Christie Roberts ’06 said in the article.
So, dear thesis writers, next Wednesday, drink (responsibly) in the daylight, don’t worry about your purpose, and rest on your laurels. You’ve earned it.
Sam Hilton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“From the Argives” is a column that explores The Argus’ archives (Argives) and any interesting, topical, poignant, or comical stories that have been published in the past. Given The Argus’ long history on campus and the ever-shifting viewpoints of its student body, the material, subject matter, and perspectives expressed in the archived article may be insensitive or outdated, and do not reflect the views of any current member of The Argus. If you have any questions about the original article or its publication, please contact Head Archivist Sam Hilton at email@example.com.