The Adapatation of the Thesis

Every senior complains about their thesis. Or at least this seems to be the trend among the majors who are actually required to write one for graduation. It is a common misconception that all majors require theses. In fact, most majors do not! I was quite angry to discover that my best friend, an English major, is not required to. That just seems backwards. I mean, English is all about the writing. Right?

This is not to say that majors do not have senior seminars. For instance, the Art History department has a class for only Art History majors; however, they do not have to write a thesis. The senior seminar functions more as a venue for majors to take all the information (and history, no doubt) they have learned in the past four years and apply it in a broader scope.

When I think about comparing the two: writing a 20+ page thesis or culminating all the knowledge I have learned from my major over the past years, I’m not quite sure which one I would choose, if I had an option. I am a Politics and Government major with a U.S. emphasis, and my thesis class allows us to basically write about anything under the scope of “U.S. Politics.” It is quite a broad topic (and was a little overwhelming when I was trying to decide what my topic would be). While I enjoy being able to research and then write about any topic of my choosing, I can see the benefits of a senior seminar as well. In fact, it would be rather useful to gather all the information I have learned over the course of my college career. It would be like one big study guide for Politics and Government! However, there is nothing more satisfying than writing a paper which you completely designed and carried out on your own.

I have heard “talk” among other departments about alternative thesis classes where there are multiple options for thesis-writing. Options include a field paper, which is much like the senior seminars because you write an essay describing all the information you have learned over the past four years on any given topic. Another option is to read a collection of books relating to your major and write a big essay comparing them. These alternatives are only suggestions at this point but it is interesting to notice the adaptation of the fundamental thesis project that most college students equate with graduation. It is possible that the type of thesis I am doing will be history by the time my children (!!!) are in college or maybe even when my 18 year-old sister becomes a senior?! Who knows at this point. But it is nice to know that the dreaded thesis may be revamped for the 21st century.

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