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A Little Slice of Honors Hell

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hello All!

Apologies on not posting in a couple weeks. Life has really been picking up lately. You see, I am currently working on my senior honors thesis and it has been quite an intensive (but rewarding!) undertaking.

If you were curious what a thesis was, let me explain. Here at CU we want you to work to graduate with Latin honors (Cum Lade, Magna Cum Lade, or Suma Cum Lade). If you decide that you want to try your hand at receiving any of those levels of distinction, you have to write an honors thesis. You must first qualify for honors solely by having an exceptional GPA. You must then find an advisor in a field that you are interested in writing your thesis on. Your advisor is a very crucial part of your thesis process. Typically your advisor is a faculty member who you trust and can go to for anything and everything that has to do with your thesis. After you find someone you trust to advise you, the ball is basically thrown into your court. You are now given free reign to research an area that interests you. You can do empirical research, literature review, data analysis, or an artistic project. You can use your own or someone else’s work, the only requirement is that you are researching your very own hypothesis. While you are working on your thesis, you must gather your defense council. Your council is made up of your advisor, an honors chair in your department, and an additional faculty member from an area outside of your thesis, as well as any additional faculty members that you would like to add. You must choose your council very wisely. They will ultimately be the ones who decide what, if any, level of honors they believe that you deserve based upon your quality of work. Once you finish writing your thesis, you turn it in to your council for review. You then give a presentation on you thesis to your council. This presentation is typically an hour-long power-point talk during which your council can ask you anything they wish about your thesis. The defense part of your thesis is often the most nerve-racking of the whole process. Your council will try to pick apart your thesis, questioning your methods, process, and results. While it can be a little scary, your council is simply trying to gauge your true understanding of the material that you are presenting. They truly want to see you succeed even though sometimes feels as though they don’t. After your defense, your council gets together to decide what, if any Latin honors distinction they believe that you deserve.

My personal project has been about two years in the making and I can’t believe that I am actually writing my thesis now! I am under quite a bit of stress since I have an uncomfortably short timeline to get my thesis done. I am projected to get my thesis in to my council by March 11th in order to defend the week before spring break. That ultimately gives me four weeks to write my entire thesis. SCARY! My advisor unfortunately had to leave the lab for a little while and so all of my experiments were put on hold. I have had to scrample to make the data that I do have work. It has been quite frustrating and at times I have honestly wanted to pull my hair out. And yet, even with my personal hell that is my thesis, I love doing it. I work very well under pressure and I know that even though I am struggling now, I will be better for it in the end.

While this process can be a brat sometimes I am honestly so glad that I chose to do it. I have learned so much and have gained so many research skills. I honestly can’t wait to be done and to see if I receive a distinction. I will be rather disappointed if my council chooses not to award me anything. But even if they don’t, I can at least take solace in the fact that I look damn good in a lab coat...

Mackenzie
Psychology and Neuroscience • Niwot, Colorado

Comments

Hi,
I am interested in studying psychology and neuroscience at Boulder as well. It seems like you have plenty of experience and a lot of insight so if we could talk about the major at CU Boulder that would be awesome! My email is 13ringwallr@abschools.org, please send me an email if you can!

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