Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You know you are an Honours student when...

Finding a computer lab everyone else seems to have forgotten is exciting
You have been on campus regularly before 9 or after 4
Endnote or CiteULike have become part of your arsenal
You have visited the student help centre
The names of the researchers in your thesis area are familiar
You know your way around the academics’ halls
At least once you’ve realised that your thesis project is getting out of control
You know you are going to run out of printing credits this year
First years are impressed that you have been at uni this long
You have strongly considered using a source that you cannot access electronically
Fewer contact hours does not mean less time spent on campus or studying
You never miss an opportunity to explain your thesis to someone
Writing 1500 word assignments seems far less daunting than in first year
You're learning more in a week and having more fun doing so than in other years
Hearing that PhDs are 100,000 words long makes you feel a lot better
You can name at least half the people in your course
Spending lunch debriefing with other honours students becomes a tradition
You have two work modes, extreme procrastination and scarily productive
The number of journal articles you read in a month exceeds that of previous years
You are currently taking a break from studying
You  have dreamt about some aspect of uni work
You know exactly when your thesis is due but not what you'll be doing after honours
You have a plan A, B and C for what you would like to be doing next year
Career fairs and postgrad course information sessions are really important this year
Your thesis has changed directions at least twice
Everyone you know is at a completely different stage in their honours journey
You get great ideas about your thesis at the strangest of times and places

Do any of these experiences resonate with you?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The start of a beautiful friendship?

Have you ever heard the old adage about the people you meet in life? They say there are three types:  acquaintances, friends that come and go and the longstanding variety you can count on. In many ways, I think an honours project is a bit like the people you meet. Some variables inevitably remain acquaintances, never taking on a life of their own. Others blossom initially but eventually wane, serving as important stepping stones to the ideas that stand the test of time. I can see this clearly in the evolution of my study. New aspects have been introduced whilst older features have disappeared, either re-emerging or being replaced. Just like relationships, an honours project is never static.

Inevitably, my 'relationship' with my project is complex. A thesis needs to be explained, defended and supported, a bit like a friend who cannot speak for themselves. At times I feel overwhelmed by it all, especially given the importance of high marks to my future career. Nevertheless, support from those willing to give feedback and listen makes it seem possible.

Despite all this, if my thesis could chat to me right now, it would probably vent its frustration! You see, I've identified a problem and I'm trying to fix it. However, I have not had much success. What is worse, is that I keep making the same mistakes. I'm placating myself with the knowledge that I will overcome this and by doing so will learn a lot from it. Even so, I still need to change my approach because my current tactics are evidently not working. Does anyone out there have any tips for approaching re-occurring problems?

At least writing this post has made me feel better. Challenges are inevitable but they will make it all the more worthwhile in the end. I'll let you know how I get on.