Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

It's Totally Doable

Ever since I have been a prospective student, the idea of writing the senior thesis has greatly intimidated me. But here I am, in my senior spring, and my thesis experience so far has proven to be very positive!

Part of the reason for this is that we take a lighter course load during our senior year, which helps free up our schedules to give us more time to work on the thesis. Students who are earning an A.B. degree need to take six courses during their entire senior year, so we can take four in the fall and two in the spring, or we can balance it out and take three each semester. I opted to take four in the fall and two now, and I am very happy with my choice!

What my schedule looks like this spring is having classes only on Mondays and Wednesdays, which gives me Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays to work my library shifts in the morning and write my thesis in the afternoon. I really like my classes, too. I have already completed all of my major requirements for the French department, so I am just taking elective classes this spring because I wanted to learn about a few new topics that I have yet to study here at Princeton. I have chosen to take "Social Networks" and "The Modern Middle East," and I only have class from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Mondays and from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays!

Now, the first few weeks of class have shown me that my free time needs to be structured so that I make sure that I am working on my thesis during my free afternoons. My friend Mallika and I are holding each other accountable by working together on our theses drafts in East Pyne from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

Makenna and a friend

Mallika and I working together (and talking!) at East Pyne!

I also have weekly meetings with my adviser (who is the best) each Thursday. This means that every Wednesday night I email her the latest version of my draft or chapter for us to discuss the next day. This allows me to edit as I go, rather than wait until April to do all of the revisions. I am also a huge fan of feedback, so it helps me to know what is working well and what can be improved each step of the way.

It's true that the thesis is a huge project. So far, my first two chapters are 35 pages in total, and I have one more chapter, an introduction and a conclusion to go. I am writing a short book! But I am doing it, and the lighter course load, the encouraging advice from my adviser, and Princeton's incredible library has made this spring much less stressful that I once imagined that it would be. I'm not saying that it's easy. But I am saying that it's totally doable.