Published: Monday, February 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2012 22:02
At some universities, senior theses are a rite of passage. After months of painstaking research and countless cups of coffee, seniors have a lengthy treatise that they can point to as a substantial, publishable achievement.
While Georgetown thankfully doesn't require a thesis of all seniors — months of intensive research isn't for everyone — the university should make the process easier and more uniform for those who do want to take on the commitment.
In fact, Georgetown makes the process difficult for seniors who want to write a thesis. In some departments of the College, like English and government, a student must apply to a small and exclusive honors program to write one. The School of Foreign Service offers students the chance to apply for the honors program and write a thesis; for certain SFS majors, a thesis is required of students whether or not they are in an honors program. In the School of Nursing and Health Studies, the process of honors declaration varies, but certain programs require students to apply by their second year to write a thesis senior year. Meanwhile, McDonough School of Business students do not have the opportunity to write a thesis at all; instead, each major features projects students are required to complete before graduation. Some of the university's honors programs start so early that students cannot go abroad in the spring of their junior year, meaning they must effectively decide whether or not they wish to pursue a thesis by the time study abroad applications are due in the fall.
It is also unfair to eliminate prospective honors program applicants on the basis of overall GPA. Honors programs typically require either a GPA of 3.33 overall, provided a 3.67 in classes pertaining to one's major, or an average GPA of 3.5. Adjusting to a college course load out of high school can be difficult, and freshmen may not be planning to write a thesis when they first enter Georgetown. Poor grades during their first two semesters should not become an insurmountable hurdle to students' pursuit of theses.
For those students who may not be able to participate in the honors thesis program within their major — whether it be due to a rough first year or the choice to study abroad — departments should establish thesis classes that students can take independently of an honors program. At the very least, students should be allowed to apply to write an independent thesis.
Writing a thesis is difficult enough as it is. Students shouldn't have to jump through so many hoops just to be given the opportunity.