The Extra-Special Expertise Of A College Senior Thesis

With guest host Jane Clayson.

It’s that time of year – when tired college seniors across the country turn in their theses.  We’ve got a great group sharing their labors of love.

Students at Reed College in Portland, Ore. burn their senior thesis in the college's annual Renn Fayre, shown here in May 2014. (Reed College)

Students at Reed College in Portland, Ore. burn their senior thesis in the college’s annual Renn Fayre, shown here in May 2014. (Reed College)

For many college seniors, it’s the last great intellectual exercise of their college careers. The capstone before donning the cap and gown. I’m talking about the senior thesis. That deep dive into the unexplored and unanswered. Original research. Fresh takes on the classics. Out of the box thinking on just about everything: neotropical migrant birds.  Feminism and fairy tales. An original musical. Must-reads, at least for the eyes of the thesis advisor — and hopefully mom and dad. And you’re in for a treat, too. This hour, On Point: the Class of 2015 presents their senior theses.

— Jane Clayson


Chris Graulty, graduating senior at Reed College, whose thesis is titled “Neuronal Dynamics of Grapheme-Color Synesthesia.”

Cassandra Corrado, graduating senior at the New College of Florida, whose senior thesis is titled “Rewriting Women’s Stories: Modern Adaptations of Fairy Tales & Their Feminist Implications.”

Charlie Madison, graduating senior at Brandeis University whose senior thesis is an original musical, “Grace.”

Kerry Snyder, graduating senior at the University of Delaware, whose senior thesis is titled “Which Trees Best Support Neo-tropical Migrant Brids on Shade-Grown Coffee Farms?”

Isaac Flegel-Mishlove, graduating senior at Georgetown University, whose senior thesis is titled, “On the Edge of Diaspora: Dynamics Between Established and Emergent Jewish Communities of Ecuador.”

Ally Engelberg, graduating senior at Barnard College, whose senior thesis is titled “How to Adjust: The Depiction of Grief and Mourning in Post-9/11 Television and Film.”

Tim Grieve, editor in chief of the National Journal. (@timgrieve)

From The Reading List

Reed Magazine: Psych majors dive into the mind-bending world of sensory substitution — “The students are investigating the brain’s ability to take information from one perceptual realm, such as sound, and transfer it to another, such as vision. This phenomenon—known as sensory substitution—might seem like a mere scientific curiosity. But in fact, it holds enormous potential for helping people overcome sensory deficits and has profound implications for our ideas about what perception really is.”

Inside Higher Ed: Eco’s Echoes — “Remedial instruction in basic skills forms only a small part of the guidance Eco offers. Far more of the book concerns the higher cognitive operations involved in selecting and refining a topic for research — one suitable given the time and the resources available to a student, but also challenging enough to demand sustained, intensive mental labor — and then producing a text that is readable, cogent and even a contribution to knowledge.”

New Yorker: A Guide to Thesis Writing That Is a Guide to Life — “‘How to Write a Thesis,’ by Umberto Eco, first appeared on Italian bookshelves in 1977. For Eco, the playful philosopher and novelist best known for his work on semiotics, there was a practical reason for writing it. Up until 1999, a thesis of original research was required of every student pursuing the Italian equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. Collecting his thoughts on the thesis process would save him the trouble of reciting the same advice to students each year.”

Check Out Our Blog For On Point Staffer Thesis Writing Memories

Martin Sheen’s 2015 Commencement Address At The University of Dayton

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