Thesis can lead to bigger works

Tara Pringle

Tara Pringle

Daily Kent Stater

After many exams and research papers, about 40 seniors in the Honors College decide to tackle one more challenge before they graduate: a senior thesis.

“It’s a wonderful project if students have the time,” said Wilma Crawford, former assistant to the dean in the Honors College. “It’s a great way to end your college work. Having a project for your portfolio if you’re going to get a job is helpful.”

Juniors or seniors who choose to complete a thesis will be eligible to receive between six and 10 hours of credit.

Students who decide to complete a thesis must first meet with their adviser before completing a proposal, Crawford said. The adviser can be any faculty member at the university as long as he or she is not a graduate student.

After students submit their proposal, Larry Andrews, dean of the Honors College, ensures the topic is appropriate. Once students complete their thesis, they are required to defend their findings before a faculty committee, she said.

“We’ve had a number of students tell us that the project helped them when they went to graduate school,” Crawford said.

Some students who complete a thesis said it has been worthwhile.

Erin Michael, senior history major, has been working on her thesis on the Holocaust for two semesters.

For her thesis, she chose three Holocaust memoirs and compared them in terms of loss of religious faith and how much the concentration camps changed them.

“It was more work than I anticipated, but completing a thesis was worth it,” Michael said, who is receiving ten credits for her work.

“It’s an opportunity to see what graduate students would do,” Michael said. “You go more in-depth with the material than in the classroom.”

Crawford said in many cases a thesis will often lead to different opportunities.

“They often blossom into books, articles, even courses,” she said.

She cited the Frontiers in Astronomy class as one example. It started out as a thesis project in 1971.

“Two students were concerned that Kent State didn’t have any astronomy courses, so the dean said ‘why don’t you start one’,” Crawford said. “They taught the class. The physics department liked it so much they kept it.”

Christine Mutuku, a political science doctoral candidate, has completed a master’s thesis and is now working on her dissertation on the youth in Kenya.

“You have to be committed,” Mutuku said. “Choose a topic you really love because you will read it over and over again. It can get monotonous.”

Mutuku said it is important for students not to stress themselves out over a thesis.

“Make sure to take a break,” she said. “Don’t feel guilty if you take a break. Take a week to re-energize yourself and come back to it later.”

Crawford said every year she asks for advice to give students who are going to start a thesis.

“They always say to start early, plan your time carefully, and realize it always takes longer than you think, but it’s worthwhile,” Crawford said.

Contact enterprise reporter Tara Pringle at [email protected]