Research and Creative Endeavors
Honors students complete a thesis as the capstone experience of their Honors curriculum, typically in their senior year. However, students should start building the foundations for those projects during their freshman year. Students in the creative areas usually are working on their performance and production skills both through class work and studio and practice time from their first semester. Similarly, students who plan to pursue degrees in other areas that may depend on library, laboratory, or field research need to begin identifying areas of interest and potential mentors their first year as well.
Ideally, students are working as volunteers on a mentor's project by their second semester. In the best circumstances, students will find job opportunities that reflect their interests for the summer after freshmen year, and then be able to pursue their on-campus research as sophomores using the Independent Study option, or with support from the Office of Student Research. This will set the student up for a more focused experience the summer after their sophomore year, perhaps even connecting a research topic with an international experience.
By their junior year students should be narrowing their ideas to a topic appropriate for an undergraduate thesis, with the help of a mentor, and beginning to draft a prospectus of what they will do. The third and final summer may be when they actually do the research, especially if their project requires an intense period of research, data collection, or preparation. Even if the summer is not needed for their thesis project, it is a last opportunity to gain a full-time experience related to their future career path, whether that is through a bench-research project, a writing job, an internship in business, or a clinical experience. Finding jobs that support your education both financially and experientially is the goal.
The thesis application forms need to be submitted by the end of the first week of class in the semester that the hours are being taken. If the thesis hours will span more than one semester (e.g., Psychology), then the forms must be turned into the Honors Office by the first week of the first semester. There will be workshops going over the logistics of finding mentors and second readers, completing the forms, and planning a timetable to completion throughout the first five weeks of each semester. They will be announced through emails and on this website, so plan to attend one as a freshmen, just to get an idea of what is coming, and then again as a junior to help you plan the specifics.
Remember, taking classes forever is probably not your career path, so, whatever it is you plan to do in life should be something you are starting to do now. Let us help you find out what that is and start doing it NOW!