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Writing Thesis

So, you were an outstanding student in high school and made the dean's list every semester until you graduated on time with your baccalaureate degree. Now you are in grad school and the prospect of writing a thesis has left you with cold feet and a blank mind. Don't worry - you can do it.

The statistics are daunting. So many grad students, almost 50%, who drop out, never to achieve that advanced degree, do so because of the dissertation. They are referred to as ABD (All But Dissertation) students.


While many students enroll in graduate school thinking that writing a thesis is just writing a research paper that takes a really long time to write, they are in for a big surprise. That undergraduate research paper was based on research someone else did. The timeline required of the undergraduate research paper was determined by a professor you saw in class a couple of times a week on a pre-determined, regularly scheduled basis and this same professor had the final say in the grade value of your paper.

Writing a thesis is an exercise in independence and can be an invaluable tool in choosing the career path to follow upon graduating. This time around, you will determine the nature and scope of material to cover in your thesis and you will do all the fresh, new research yourself. You will establish your own research and writing timelines and you won't meet regularly with the same familiar professor to lead you through the process.

The key to success in writing a thesis that will make a difference is to establish and maintain a positive relationship with your thesis advisor, who will treat you as if you and he/she are establishing a scholastic partnership akin to that of professional colleagues. Your advisor will be just that – an advisor. It will be up to you to establish the details of the dissertation and learn to rely on the advisor for feedback and advise but not for absolute guidance and direction.

Your advisor can provide an invaluable link to the review committee involved with writing a thesis. Just as each student and advisor use different strategies and methods, the review committee, made up of several advisors, will be unique, too. Trust your advisor to act as a reliable liaison between you and the review committee in much the same manner as you will expect your supervisor in the workplace to act as liaison between you and company executives once you've graduated and entered the professional stage of you life.

Writing a thesis may take a year or longer but don't worry. You can do it quite successfully if you stay focused, organized, and on schedule. And it will be a much more rewarding experience if you establish and maintain a positive, pleasant working relationship with your advisor and review committee members, too.