It’s Week 3 of the quarter and you haven’t worked on your thesis. I mean, we still have until the end of the quarter… right?
Well, considering that Senior Conference is at the end of Week 8, your time frame might be slightly skewed. If you’re one of the lucky ones who hasn’t worked on thesis at all since fall quarter, it’s time to at least start thinking about how little time we have left! Think about it: Midterms will start soon, professors will start handing out paper prompts, maybe you’ll even get a big work project on your desk in the next week, and don’t forget, there’s that big family weekend you have planned in three weeks… Sure, we have about 5 weeks left until Senior Conference, but when you take all of your obligations into account, that 5 weeks will fly by. It’s time to plan.
I might have induced an incredible amount of anxiety in the last paragraph. And that’s okay! That’s the point of this post. It is incredibly difficult to provide a “one size fits all” approach to finishing your thesis project because one student is so different than the next. However, this is the first step of a three-part process that I find helps most students inch ever closer to that final 30-page product. Read through these steps and go through the exercise of asking yourself the relevant questions to push yourself to finish the last half of the project. Remember, as an independent study project, you technically could finish thesis by next week and just coast until the end of the quarter.
Step One: Have an honest check-in with yourself
Congratulations! You’ve completed part of step one by just getting this far. Seems silly, but I guarantee you that some students stopped reading at the first sentence. It is pretty difficult to be 100% honest with ourselves at all times, especially hard when we think we’re behind the curve in some way. However, a key component to the success of thesis is to constantly check in with your mental and emotional state.
Are you excited about finishing the project? Why? …are you dreading finishing the project? Is there some course of action that you should take to remove this sense of dread? …are you indifferent about thesis? Maybe talking to a professor or other student can pull you out of this indifference. There’s a wide variety of emotions that students are facing at this point.
However, this process of thinking about your thoughts is known as metacognition. This metacognition is important to getting started. It is the impetus for many of us in finishing projects that require large amounts of energy… projects like senior thesis.
Step Two: Plan your way to the finish line
Now that we’re through step one, don’t lose this momentum! Take this time to be really thoughtful about the rest of the quarter and plan. your. heart. out. Planning is a difficult stage to advise because everyone is different. Some of us keep detailed calendars and to-do lists while others of us keep our obligations committed to memory. Whatever our preferences to keep us organized, every single student should plan their way to the end of the quarter.
Without a regular class meeting, you are responsible for setting your own goals. This can come in the form of deadlines, small tasks, even assignments that you design on your own time. Schedule big blocks of time to work on senior thesis… maybe it comes during a break between classes on TuTh, maybe it’s for 3 hours every Saturday. Whenever it is, make an appointment with yourself and exclusively devote that time to senior thesis, free from distractions, free from any other sort of work.
The biggest mistake is to just tell yourself, “I’ll get to it when I have time.” No one has time, we need to make time. The more time you allot to senior thesis now, the less stress you’ll feel as the quarter progresses.
Step Three: Monitor and evaluate yourself honestly
This is an important part of the process. This is connected to the metacognitive process discussed in Step One. You need to check in with yourself regularly for the rest of the quarter. Ask yourself… how are you doing? But be specific! Are you on track to meet your goals this week? Are you being realistic about what is needed to finish the project? Do you need to re-assess and re-evaluate your goals?
This is an important component as it forces you to calibrate your work on a regular basis. But this should probably be done at least on a weekly basis. Sometimes we have the best intentions, but procrastination gets the best of us. Recalibrating our work habits might force you to reconsider trying something new to remain productive. For example, you might realize that you’re more productive if you work in the library rather than the Bronco Student Center. Next week, you might try working on thesis in different spots throughout the library. Sounds simple, but these small changes help dramatically!
And remember, this is not all gloom and doom! If you meet your goals and deadlines, treat yourself! When you finally reach 30 pages, maybe you’ll decide to treat yourself to a special night out with friends. But even for the small successes, take the time to acknowledge and celebrate that success. Remember, thesis should be a rewarding process that marks the end of your time in college. It shouldn’t all be a chore!