It’s been a long time coming! Months of research, writing, phone calls, emails, hours in libraries, nose in books, and eyes tired from the number of articles and newspapers I scoured, but it has all led up to this! For my undergraduate Honors program, the last big requirement is to write a thesis.
It took me months of research and about a month to write it, but it’s finally done! I’m so proud of the finished product knowing how much work I put into it.
So today, I want to share with you the things I learned while writing a thesis that have nothing to do with the topic I was writing about (which, by the way if you’re curious, was about the early history of baseball).
- First of all, you have to love the topic you’re researching- I cannot tell you how many times I would come across the same few facts in my research. You can’t allow yourself to get annoyed because then the work will seem overwhelming. If it is not a topic that 100% interests you, then you will struggle to finish it.
- Get a head start on it early- I think I was talking to advisors and settling things down beginning in October (for context, I didn’t submit the final version until April 20th). This way you can start to narrow things down and work on the kinks.
- Have TOO MANY sources- Yes, you heard me correctly. I had over 40 links saved on my computer, not to mention 10-15 books. My final product ended up having 33 sources. But by having “too many” sources, I was never hurting for information. I could weed out sources that were not relevant to me or provided repetitive information.
- Don’t work all the time- Like most things, motivation comes and goes. It’s important not to work when you’re not feeling it.
- More than ever, it’s important to balance your life- During the time I was researching and writing my thesis, I was also student teaching. There were a few weeks where Monday through Friday, I was teaching every day; and then Saturday, I would close out a public library as I sat there taking pictures and writing notes in preparation.
- Set goals for yourself- My advisor had basic goals set for me of when he expected things to be done. But I usually made sure to be done even before his goals. This way I could do more things in my personal life without feeling guilty.
- When you’re working, work hard- This thesis is the most thorough work I have ever done. The days I would spend working and close out the library, I would probably be working for a good 6+ hours, with just a few breaks to take a walk, use the bathroom, or get food. I allowed myself to work hard to accomplish more.
- Stand up for yourself- I have always had a hard time standing up for myself. I want to make others happy, but sometimes that crushes what I want. Now you may be saying, “Kim why is this on the list? Didn’t you pick the topic?” Yes I did. I did pick the topic. But let me explain. One of the last critiques my advisor made was something I disagreed with because it disrupted the flow of my paper. So I told him that when I sent it back to him. He accepted and approved it without the suggested changes.
- Recognize you’re not alone- A thesis is daunting work. But you have people to help you. There is probably a friend or family member interested in the topic. Theses are usually equipped with an advisor who is there to help you out. Even though my thesis was a history thesis, my advisor pointed me towards an English professor at the university who specialized in baseball. She was able to provide me a springboard in the form of a plethora of sources, many of which either made it into the research or the final version.
- Break your writing down- My advisor did this for me by showing me an example. It made my process so much easier. I then had to focus on a section at a time and getting that length rather than focusing on the paper as a whole.
- Reward yourself and celebrate your accomplishments- This is a big deal. Be excited for what you accomplish. You’re (usually) doing a topic that hasn’t been as thoroughly covered, and even if you are, you’re often presenting your findings in a new way. Recognize the thesis for what it is and be proud of yourself.
- Finally, be proud of what you’re writing about- A thesis is culmination of months of research. And with as much as it has been picked over, I know that my thesis is one of, if not the one, best papers I have written. I never thought I would write a 20-page paper about baseball, but it is so great that things worked out this way.
Maybe in the next week or two, I’ll talk more about the contents of my thesis. But I wanted to share things about the thesis itself. If you’re interested in reading it, let me know!
2 thoughts on “What I Learned While Writing a Thesis”
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My undergraduate program wasn’t an Honors program, but we had to do a thesis. This particular program was for students who already had most of the classes needed to graduate. Think it was 39 hours, 13 month program with 120ish hours to graduate. You had to have 39 hours remaining or less to begin the program.
Thankfully, the courses were designed to help you do the parts of your thesis as you went along. The final course was putting the various parts together into a single thesis, smoothing out the rough edges. Depending on the order of the courses and your thesis as to which thesis part made sense to complete in a given module. We had a list of the courses and the order they were going to be taught before we started the program. We had to design the basics of the thesis statement in the first class and our professors and advisor would give feedback along the way.