Working on a thesis is a lot of things, and easy is not one of them! Remembering back to the sleepless nights, endless stress, and the inevitable mood swings that followed, almost makes me break out a sweat right now! Oh and did I mentioned all-the-while no actual thesis written?? As a surviving fellow thesis writer, here are a few things that I think you should remember (or acknowledge) when working on your thesis!
1. You don’t have to understand all of it completely when you start.
Most of the time we think that in order to create the best thesis, you should know everything about it beforehand. We think that everything from the first step to the finished product, has to be as clear as day. But the truth is, when we working on our undergraduate thesis, there will always be changes, and revision, and critics, and unworkable materials, and-and-and dozen of other factors that will definitely make you feel lost in writing your thesis.
I am telling you, its okay. Heck, I even only understood some theory from second semester once I start working on my thesis! So, don’t be discouraged about it. Keep on reading, share with your peers, have a sit-in class, and discuss it with your mentor will help you to fill the gap.
2. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!
Okay, maybe just a little bit. I know for sure this one is easier said than done, remembering that I too, was one of the people who admitted to putting the “pro” in the procrastination. But seriously, stopping procrastination and start moving those ass could feel like a drag in a day-to-day basis, but will save you from serious headache and depression in the long run.
Do at least one to two page of writing every 3 days or have a special one day of research and structuring your thesis will earn you more leisure time.
Work on a timeline because at the end of the day it is all numbers game: 2 pages for every 3 days x 4 months = 96 pages at the submission deadline.
3. Stay on your adviser’s good side
Whether you are going to excel in your thesis drafting, be stuck hopelessly without approval, or get butchered during the defense, will be heavily co-related with how communicative and understanding you are with your adviser.
Know what kind of adviser you have, what their expertise is, how to reach out and consult with them, and what you want from them (such as feedback for analysis, theory/framework, data, resources, etc). Try your best to not come empty-headed but have several choices or scenarios you would prefer to have in your thesis. If you are having a writer’s block, communicate clearly how so and what you do expect from your thesis. This helps avoid the defense butchered-generic statement: “mr/ms X asked me to put it there so I put it there” (but I actually don’t know about it or even don’t agree with it). After all, this is your thesis so you should know better about what do you want with it.
4. Be proactive and engage people
Drafting a thesis is an individual assignment but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone in the dark room at midnight (unless it is what gets your motor going then, well, whatever floats your boat). Many times I found that I could overcome my thesis when I worked together with my friends and ran notes by each other. If I don’t feel like meeting my adviser or haven’t really got clear answer, I go to my friends or my seniors.
If you are the ‘more capable type’ than your friends, help them to catch up with you. Sharing and peer-mentoring during thesis drafting helps us comprehend better and ultimately boosts our confidence on the subject during thesis defense. Also, wouldn’t it be nice to graduate together?
5. Take it easy and enjoy your last moment in college.
Seriously, thesis writing is a big deal, but don’t let it drain the joy of your youthful life. Do your thesis but also go out with your friends, do some activities together, cherish your university life because when you are at this stage, you only have so much time.
Because when you finish and graduate; friends will grow apart, you will have a full time job, more responsibility, and you will miss those chances you have in college. So, make sure you go out saying “what a wonderful ride” instead of “If only.”