Seniors Face Looming Thesis Deadlines

When the deadline of a 20,000-word thesis is approaching, sometimes Katy Perry covers are the only place to turn.

“Listening to Glee versions of popular songs, particularly [Glee’s version of] ‘Firework,’ was oddly inspiring,” said Shaun T. Vigil ’11, who credits music in his ability to get through his History and Literature senior thesis. “Also, Kelly Clarkson winning American Idol [is the] most inspirational video of all time.”

To freshmen whose chief concern before spring break is the outcome of housing day, this might sound a bit outlandish, but for seniors whose thesis deadlines are looming, this race to the finish is a fact of life.

But it could be worse. Rebecca L. Gruskin ’11, a history concentrator, is still waiting to receive translations of key thesis materials. Her deadline is March 10.

She traveled abroad last summer to conduct interviews for her thesis, which focuses on Jordanian reactions to the Israel-Jordan peace treaty of 1994.

A professional translator helped her throughout her research and sent her most of her data, but she is still waiting on certain interviews. After calling the translator on Tuesday, she learned that he hadn’t checked his e-mail since he got married last fall.

“He told me, ‘Inshallah I’ll get them to you by Friday or Saturday,’” Gruskin said.

And as Vigil, the History and Literature concentrator, learned, there’s more to a thesis than simply writing it.

Because Vigil wrote about the transformation from adolescence to adulthood over the course of the Spiderman comic series, he needed a color printer to showcase images sprinkled throughout his thesis.

His thesis was due Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the Barker Center, but he didn’t finish printing in Hilles Library until 3:41 p.m., he said.

“The shuttle had already left so I sprinted to the Barker Center in 11 minutes after sleeping an average of two hours a night during the thesis process,” he said. He had never run faster in his life.

But not everyone’s thesis experience reads like a horror story.

Beatrice E. Liem ’11, an applied mathematics concentrator, said she is not terribly stressed about her thesis.

“I’m not far enough along to have that panic craze since I’m still doing data collection,” Liem said. Her thesis is due in April.

Michael A. Baskin ’11, a Social Studies concentrator, also took an optimistic view on thesis-writing, saying he was enjoying the comfort of his House.

“Writing a thesis is great as long as you have the open and inclusive community of Dunster cheering you on,” he said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction.

CORRECTION: MAR. 3, 2011

The Mar. 3 article "Seniors Face Looming Deadlines" incorrectly stated the length of Shaun T. Vigil's thesis. It is 20,000 words.

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