The thesis

A testament to how dumb you are for writing one

| Staff Columnist

Apparently, all it takes to get 51 comments on a Student Life column online is to get it published in a rather popular blog. Who knew? Neil Gaiman, look at me! Look at me! Well, I might not have readership, but I know that I’m doing one thing that Gaiman has never done: writing a senior honors thesis. This isn’t the first time someone’s written a column about thesis writing, and it won’t be the last.

My rationale for writing a thesis was pretty straightforward: Why not? Of course, all my friends advised me against writing one—both those who had and hadn’t written theses. The universal consensus was that they involved too much work. To hell with reasonable advice, I thought. They don’t know what they’re talking about. I can do it. And other underclassmen thought just as I did. Judging by an extremely informal poll of my friends in the Class of 2009, many people are writing theses. There are roughly 10 students writing theses in the history department alone.

So where do I now find myself? Procrastinating and not writing my thesis by working on this column. Thus, I relay to you the first excellent characteristic of a thesis: When one procrastinates on it, so much other work has piled up that one is forced to procrastinate by doing other work. Genius, really. Theses also keep your enemies at bay. If you want to avoid someone, work on your thesis. They want to do something with you? Can’t! Thesis. It’s never-ending work, so it’s a never-ending excuse.

Problem: If you actually have friends/love interests, the thesis is a burden. The same excuse you used on that ugly guy in your anthropology class also must be used on David Shapiro. Theses are equal-opportunity offenders. I’ve sort of found a way around the problem. I try to stay in the library all day so that each night, I can get dinner with friends, unwind and get a good night’s rest. Problem: Spending all day in the library results in shoulders so hunched over that I’ve been getting employment letters from Notre Dame de Paris.

My biggest hassle in writing a thesis, besides the research, stress, writing and editing, is keeping a place to store all of my materials. I have more than 30 books, countless articles and more primary sources that I store in a library locker. I have to renew the locker every single day, or I am fined. That wouldn’t be so bad except I have to switch my locker every day. I have yet to figure out the impetus behind that policy.

Attention all juniors: Are you considering writing a thesis? You want to know whether you should write one or not? Let me assure you that you don’t have the preparation to write one. On the bright side, nothing could possibly prepare you for the process that is thesis-writing. I have just less than a month to go. What light at the end of the tunnel?

I would tell you to write one just for the thrill of working all day and having nothing to show for it for months (even after you write a chapter, you have to revise countless times, to the point at which it becomes a completely different beast altogether). I would tell you to write one to feel like you’ve accomplished something great. Thing is, I don’t think I’ll know what I have until it’s all over. That’s the beauty of it. I love this job.