Sometimes after the rush of the fourth quarter is over, rising Seniors start getting “cold feet” about their thesis proposal topic. Or, maybe you proposed two or three topics, and you’re still figuring out how to decide between them. It’s normal to reconsider your topic with the extra head-space available in the summer. If you’re thinking it over, that’s normal and healthy, so no fear. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you finalize your topic and book list, and start doing your research for the summer workbook:
1. Am I really in love with this topic? Or did I just pick it because it will “look good” in some way? Trying to impress people with your topic – whether you are thinking college apps, your parents, your peers, the faculty, or anyone else – is going to backfire. Senior Thesis is a lot of work, and it is only sustainable for the full year if you are truly, inherently in your own heart and mind in love with the topic. Consider picking the one that makes you smile.
2. How challenging is it to discover the thesis possibilities from the research? In theory, senior thesis could be about any topic. Practically speaking, however, some topics lend themselves more readily to serious debate than others. Topics that are contentious social challenges in need of a solution – poverty, racism, climate change, healthcare, etc. – have immediate, obvious debates to join. That does not mean they are better senior thesis topics, but it does mean it will take less additional work to focus the research into an argument. Likewise, more scientific topics where you could be collecting data or running models to prove or disprove a hypothesis are relatively easy to form into a thesis. Other topics – for example, metal detecting – may be a passion, but as a thesis topic would require a lot of detailed digging to find an actual source of debate. If you are deciding between two topics that you are equally passionate about, but one has a clearer path to a thesis (even if you don’t know what it is yet), that may be the better topic choice, especially considering all of your other responsibilities senior year.
3. Am I trying too hard to match the topic to my possible future college major? Your whole senior year is going to be orbiting around college. If you think you might benefit from some balance, it really is OK to choose a topic that’s not directly related to your future plans. That’s not to say that you need to avoid your favorite topic, either – it’s just OK to consider other options. Senior Thesis will not be done in time to put on a college application; rather the process is about developing the skills that will serve you very well in college no matter what your major ends up being. You have the flexibility to do the topic you want (keeping #1 and #2 in mind!).
Do you have questions for Ms. Farris about your Senior Thesis topic? Email anytime!