Senior thesis, while daunting, suggests promise of postgrad future

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Senior year brings about all sorts of emotions for everyone.

You experience nostalgia for the three years prior that always seem to fly by much too fast. You have fear for the unknown that lies ahead with adulthood. You gain a sense of pride as well knowing how hard you’ve worked to get where you’re at as the light at the end of the tunnel grows closer.

But there is one final mountain many of us must climb before we can reach the end: senior thesis. Senior thesis – or for some majors, senior project – represents a culmination of all your work you’ve done at Union.

While it may not use every bit of knowledge from every course you’ve taken during your time here, it does require the use of the skills you developed over those courses.

While each major’s project or thesis looks somewhat different in terms of requirements in length or time allotted towards it, we can all agree upon one overarching, unifying denominator: it is daunting for everyone.

I will preface this for the underclassmen by saying the reason it’s daunting is not what you would initially think. In my freshmen and sophomore year I was terrified of the idea of having to write a thesis because I felt so underprepared.

The thought of devoting a year to write one in depth paper on a topic of my choice was overwhelming. Where would I even start? How would I decide what topic to pick? Would my topic have enough material to write a substantial paper?

But through courses like freshmen preceptorial, sophomore research seminar and independent research in my junior year, I began to feel more confident in my abilities.

By the end of junior year, I was no longer nervous, but actually excited to start my thesis. Over the summer, I prepped by planning how I would allot my time over the ten week fall term. I set goals for myself that were challenging yet also obtainable if I remained focused. The structure of Union’s curriculum made me feel more than equipped to take on senior thesis.

However, what Union couldn’t prepare me for, what no one could prepare me for, was the realization that came with working on thesis that this is the end. This is the end of my time as an undergraduate, and with that comes more responsibilities of adulthood.

Thesis is daunting because as you are climbing that mountain to get to the end, you at some point inevitably come to the realization that this is the LAST requirement you have to graduate. No other massive barriers lie ahead. Sure you might have a few courses left for your major, but you’ve been taking major courses since freshmen year so they are familiar and routine.

Thesis, on the other hand, is the last new task, different from everything else you’ll do in your time here, while also not different because it uses everything done in your time here. There are times during thesis that I start to think why keep trekking into the unknown? I’m perfectly happy right where I’m at. But we can’t become stagnant.

We must keep pushing forward, and continue growing. We have come so far, and to stop now would be a disservice to ourselves. Union is amazing and I am so glad I picked it for my undergraduate experience.

I have grown to call it home over the past three and a half years. I have established so many close friendships with people I now call family instead. The thought of leaving this place can only best be described as daunting, hence the one task that will enable me to graduate is daunting by association.

What you have to remind yourself though is just because this is the end of your time here as an undergraduate at Union, that doesn’t mean this is the end of your ties to the Union family.

Once we graduate, we are still connected to Union and to the people we met here. Graduation does not dissolve those friendships. If anything, experiencing the unknown simultaneously and keeping in contact throughout it will make those friendships even stronger.

So don’t be afraid of thesis. I know it seems daunting because it signals the end, but keep in mind it’s not truly the end, it’s actually just the beginning.

 

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