Senior studies are an integral part of what separates Maryville College graduates from the crowd. From the mass of senior studies, a few are designated exemplary. The exemplary theses are chosen after each semester. All selected theses for the academic year are honored at graduation.
The exemplary senior studies from Spring 2011 and Fall 2011 were written by Austin Riley Finch, Leslie Baxter, Anna Glass, John Girdler, Miranda Coffey, Justin Kirkland, Jonathan Brent, Steven Giblock and Bonnie Pelsue Finn.
Dr. Drew Crain, who helped decide which senior studies are designated as exemplary, offered some insight on what qualifies a senior study for this honor.
The works deemed exemplary both have stellar processes and produce stellar results. How the student designed the research, experiment or data collection is just as important (or even more important) than the final paper.
The passion and work put into the process directly affects the success of the outcome. Both the effort and the thesis should, according to Crain, “mimic the master’s” thesis.
If a MC undergraduate puts all of his or her effort into creating an amazing and masterful thesis, the work can become a platform for post-MC endeavors. An MC thesis can become a rough draft for future publications or can be used to impress potential employers or graduate schools.
One example of this practice is the exemplary senior thesis of Shelley Clark, from the fall of 2010.
Clark’s thesis focused on body mass index and its effects on knee replacements. Her work helped her get into physical therapy school and was a major focal point of her admissions interview. During her interview, those with whom she was speaking suggested that she continue the research that she had begun at MC.
According to Crain, this is a very common occurrence. The real value of thesis work is that it shows potential employers that MC graduates have real experience, and such employers are generally very impressed with the work put forth. The senior study helps gives MC students that extra edge.
Crain also gave an important tip for current students who will eventually begin work on senior studies. He says that it is important for students to keep an “antenna open for topics in their discipline.”
In other words, always be on the lookout for things in your field of study that interest you.
The hardest part of the process is picking the topic, so it is a good idea to keep a list of topics that interest you in a notebook. When you come across articles in your classes that seem interesting and you think could help you when thesis time comes around, keep them in a file somewhere.
Most importantly you should follow your passion. If you are passionate about the subject you choose, that enthusiasm will be translated into your work.