Monthly Archives: May 2011

Choosing a final paper topic your professor will like.

Yes, this is actually backwards (From LittleDebbie11 on Flickr)

Final papers are rarely fun assignments. This much is true.

But, it doesn’t have to be so painful to pick a final thesis topic.

Professors typically assign final papers to round out their syllabi and to give more chances to make up for missed assignments and midterm exams. But, most importantly, they do so to get a full grasp of what you have learned and truly gleaned from their course. It goes beyond making sure that you did the readings and paid attention to lecture; it’s to see if you, as a student, really understand what the class was about, why the course is important and how that is. Basically, your professor wants to see that you really understand the coursework, curriculum, and, really, the whole point of the class.

You should see right away why the above should be considered first and foremost when thinking of possible thesis topics: your paper should address what your professor is looking for. Of course, don’t confuse this with just regurgitating notes from lecture and the reading; you have to show that you’ve truly digested the material and understand it.

First, evaluate the curriculum and what was covered during the course. Think as broadly as possible, and look for themes that run through the entirety of the curriculum; what kind of connections can you make between all the readings assigned and the main points of lecture? These themes and connections– the scope of the course– are the “meat and potatoes”, if you will, of what your thesis should be about or, at the very least, should resonate with your professor when reading it.

Regardless of what your topic ends up being, be sure to incorporate these themes into your work. Not only will it make your professor happy, but it will also make your paper that much more comprehensive and well-rounded.

Stefanie Arr