Deep In the Thesis Trenches

March 3, 2024
Hadley Kim

A hallmark of the Princeton experience is the senior thesis, a culmination of the past four years of your academic work and interests. All students, with the exception of BSE Computer Science majors, have to write a thesis before they graduate, though many BSE Computer Science students also choose to write one. As the weather begins to warm and more and more students make their way outside to bask in the sun, more and more seniors will make their way into the depths of Firestone Library, eagerly anticipating the day that they enter PTL (Post Thesis Life).

All departments also have their individual deadlines for the thesis, and at the time of writing, there are some students who have a month left till they have to submit, and others, such as me, who have nearly two months left. My thesis is due on April 24th, both a blessing and a curse because it means I have enough time to finish it, but also that I will be working on my thesis up to the last day of classes. 

Though everyone has a different process, I have found that the best way to approach my thesis is to work on a little bit of it every day. Initially I told myself that I would write a bulk of it in one day (say 5 pages), which became daunting, but not so much if I just spaced out those pages over the course of a week. I am also helped by the fact that my thesis is not that long, at least in comparison to some of my friends. As an East Asian Studies major, my thesis has the minimum length of 60 pages, and my adviser specifically requested that mine not exceed 80 pages. I have found this length to be quite manageable, while at the same time I have become a lot more intentional about all of the words I am writing, as I know I will not be able to keep all of them. 

Currently, I have a thesis draft due on the Friday of midterms week, March 8th, and am mostly done with all of my writing for that draft. Afterwards, there are no more ‘checkpoints’ offered by the department I have to work towards, which means that I will be largely left on my own and will be responsible for keeping myself on track. The good thing is that I will not be alone, as my friends will also all be working towards their final thesis submission. I expect many days in the basement of Firestone Library together, but all working towards the sweet day where we will exit the library, having passed one of the most important milestones of the Princeton experience.