The Senior Thesis, an in-depth inquiry into a question or topic of the student’s choice, represents the culmination of the student’s academic experience at Shimer. The Thesis is the ideal opportunity for the Shimer student to work closely with a member of the faculty. It is guided by a member of the faculty chosen by the student, with another faculty member serving as second reader.
The Thesis is undertaken and completed over the course of the student’s senior year. It can take various forms. Most students choose to write analytical or expository essays, but others compose fiction or poetry, create performance pieces, or fashion works of visual art. In all cases, the Thesis gives students the opportunity to pursue and refine the intellectual interests they have developed at Shimer.
The Senior Thesis offers students the opportunity to demonstrate a number of the qualities cultivated at Shimer College, including the following:
Academic Achievement. Students demonstrate their interest in and excitement about a particular topic by selecting it for investigation. The process of researching and completing the Thesis hones their ability to conduct research, to analyze and synthesize information, and to communicate effectively about what they have learned.
Personal Accomplishment. While most first-year Shimer students wonder how they will ever be able to complete a Senior Thesis, those who reach their final year are well prepared to do so. Shimer students typically increase their self-confidence enormously by the time they reach their senior year. The sense of accomplishment that accompanies the completion of the Thesis underscores this.
Communication Skills. The process of completing the Senior Thesis demands and nurtures a variety of communications skills. The student gets the opportunity to work closely with a member of the faculty, and also to share the progress of her or his work with fellow seniors.
Graduate and Professional School Preparation. Few U.S. colleges and universities require a Senior Thesis. A Thesis helps Shimer students stand out when applying to graduate and professional schools. Not only does it show that the student has the tools required to complete successfully a Master’s thesis, but it also demonstrates high-level academic skills and indicates that the student has the focus and determination to be a successful graduate student.
Career Preparation. Any student who completes a Senior Thesis at Shimer College shows that he or she is capable of completing a demanding and time-consuming assignment. It further demonstrates that the student is able to work independently at a high level of intellectual and personal competence.
In short, the Senior Thesis provides many benefits to the Shimer student. The student who completes successfully such a Thesis is prepared for a variety of challenges and opportunities upon graduating from Shimer.
Student Testimonials on the Senior Thesis
”The experience of writing my senior thesis was definitely one of the more rewarding and enjoyable experiences of my academic career to date. The scope of possibilities for the senior thesis is, in fact, infinite and limitless….I continued on to law school after graduating Shimer and only then learned the valuable strengths which the experience of writing my senior thesis bestowed upon me….The writings, the ideas, and the discussions were great, but the senior thesis, the ability to form my own writing, ideas and discourse was the icing on the cake.”
Masato Ishiba, BA Humanities, Weekday Program, 1999
“Being a student at Shimer strongly shaped my sense of intellectual involvement in life….The process of writing a thesis involved the challenge of not only finding something to say, but also articulating it in the deeply personal way true to the personal nature of a Shimer education. My thesis, both in its form and content, is a landmark on my intellectual landscape.”
Bryson Walb, BA Humanities, Weekday Program, 1998
“The senior thesis was something I looked forward to before I even started at Shimer….One of my professors suggested I make a film about Shimer, and that’s what I ended up doing….The skills I learned from making this documentary would be put to use in real life immediately afterwards….I am still utilizing these skills and I am still enjoying it.”
Joni Garcia, BS Social Sciences, Weekend Program, 2000