Thoughts on Thesis
The senior thesis serves as the capstone of the Trivium, requiring students to apply skills acquired throughout their years of classical education. Students choose challenging topics of interest and research a depth of information both to prove their thesis and to offer rebuttals to the counter-arguments. They spend months writing a clear and persuasive thesis paper and then recraft their argument as a speech to present in front of an audience. Then they defend their thesis before a panel of interlocutors.
This past week, our Senior Class of 2020 presented their theses under an additional weight of challenges. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, these students presented and defended via live Zoom calls with only their immediate family members serving as a physical audience. We asked some of our seniors to share their thoughts on Thesis 2020 in light of these difficult circumstances.
Remarkably, none of the respondents mentioned the additional challenges they faced this year. Instead, their thoughts on the thesis process describe a life-changing experience that has prepared them well for college and beyond.
How was the Thesis process the capstone of your years in classical education?
Over Our Heads: The Scary Ignorance of Concussions
“At the beginning of the year, when I had received the thesis schedule for this year, I thought to myself, ‘Man, how am I supposed to do this? This is so much work and so much to keep track of.’ I learned through all of that work, there are people there to help you stay accountable for the work and keep you organized the entire way. I learned not only to rely on myself throughout this whole year, but also that God, my family, my friends, and my advisor were always there to help me through this. Completing the thesis itself was the most relieving moment in my life. It was definitely a life-changer because my paper was sixteen pages. A five-page paper is nothing compared to this, and it will come easily for me, now that I have written a full thesis, with tons of resources I used for research.
I think the thesis was the academic capstone to my eleven years at Providence because it tied everything I had ever learned at Providence. It helped me accomplish being the ideal PCS graduate. I had to communicate my thoughts well, use discernment when crossed examined, enhance my knowledge with my topic, and I had to use Christ-like character by persevering through the hard parts of the thesis. It was an unforgettable experience.”
What new skills did you learn through the process of writing your thesis?
Equality Act: An Argument Against the Institution of the Equality Act
“The thesis process was helpful in learning how to think through a problem, but one aspect I enjoyed about it that I did not anticipate was being able to hear lots of different perspectives from others.”
Ineffective and Inhumane: The U.S. Prison System
“The thesis process taught me to organize my thoughts. Discussing counter-arguments with my classmates and teachers throughout the process helped me see different viewpoints.”
What did you learn about yourself through the Thesis process?
Religious Teachings: A Study of Religion in Government-Run Schools
“I definitely learned that when I experienced a ‘crisis’ late in the process, it wasn’t going to ruin my life. I was able to work everything out, and I learned how to manage problems better. I also am happy that I learned to write a twenty-page paper, so that even five-page papers will not seem so frightening later on.”
How do you think your life will be changed because of your Thesis experience?
Subjugated to the Ideology: How Islam and Feminism Have Failed Women
“Throughout the thesis process, I learned how to look at a topic through all different points of view. I had to look at it from the position I agreed with and all other positions that my panelists could have taken. This skill is going to be helpful throughout my college career and life in general since I am able to consider the ways to best defend my beliefs.”
For additional perspective on the value of a senior thesis as part of a complete classical education, read “Turning Point: How One Student’s Senior Thesis Transformed Her Life and Thinking Forever” by Chris Potts in The Classical Difference blog.
And let us not grow weary of doing good,
for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up. — Galatians 6:9