How to Complete a Senior Thesis

On April 11th, 2014, I turned in my senior thesis. The product of months of blood, sweat, and tears, it clocked in at 126 pages and contained eight short stories, a twenty-eight page theoretical introduction, and so many sassy subtitles. After nary a day without editing a description of an orgasm, panicking about over-using the phrase “cupping his cheek,” or puzzling out the “cum” vs. “come” spelling debate, being finished was oddly unsettling. Submitting the .pdf was a relief but I also found it depressing. Here it was, the culmination of my academic career: done. Finished. Uploaded.

So here were the steps necessary to letting go of my senior thesis (pics or it didn’t happen).

1. Print it out and have a weird moment stroking it in the school library. So much has lead up to this. Resist the urge to do one final proof for typos and put the damn thing in an envelope to deliver to your reader. Struggle to find an envelope big enough before begging the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies administrator for one from the supply closet.


2. Proceed to get very drunk with the rest of the thesis writers at 4PM on the steps of the school library. Send regrettable emails, tweets, and text messages, and then forgive yourself because hell, you just finished your thesis.


3. Eat the gigantic cake your housemates make for no apparent reason.


4. Spend time with loved ones! Especially the underclassmen who looked upon your thesis stress and ensuing drunken antics without judgment.


5. Clean up your thesis carrel, which has become a home over the past few months, even if you watched more Netflix inside its four walls than did actual thesis research. Bye bye, pretty hipster people. Bye bye, post-it notes of dialogue stolen from friends and repurposed for fictional characters.


6. GO OUTSIDE, IT IS BEAUTIFUL OUTSIDE. Before the weather abruptly decides snow mid-April seems appropriate.


7. Catch up on television and root for your best lady pals Joan, Peggy, Dawn, and Sally. Revel in sexism and racism taking center stage in the last season of Mad Men.


8. Realize you still have to do a thesis presentation for the entire Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies department, including a reading “calibrated to the occasion,” and that you will learn if you received honors, high honors, or just credit for your thesis this week. Panic.

Photo on 2-14-14 at 6.56 PM #4

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Ella Dawson is a sex and culture critic and a digital strategist. She drinks too much Diet Coke.

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