On the way to lunch earlier, my teammates and I passed by Mrs. Fields, and there was a big cookie cake there that says, “Congratulations, Graduates!” It took us a while to really get that, and realize that it’s March, and it is graduation season! Wow. Don’t you just love graduations?
If you’re a college senior and graduation is just around the corner, I know that there’s still one hurdle you have to go through before you get to official graduate status: thesis.
Ah, thesis. It changes your life, you know.
Four years ago today was my thesis defense. I used to have long blog entries about my thesis thoughts here, before I started my blog again from scratch (and before I lost my archives in The Great Ginger Crash of 2007), and believe me, when I say long, they were long.
I was a pretty good student from high school to college, but in between those two chapters of my life, I went from a star student (high school) to an average student (college). I pretty much “coasted” along in college, save for some bumps in the roads (three failures) and some high moments (Dean’s List for one term), but I never found anything as challenging as thesis was.
Our thesis was divided into three terms: IS-RESM, ISTHES1 and ISTHES2. Let me tell you the story of each term (and then some). :)
IS-RESM. IS-RESM is all about the thesis proposal, so this was the time we pick our desired topics, find a problem about how it was being taught or learned and propose a solution for it, based on what we have learned for the past few years. I admit, I suck at conceptual stuff. I had a hard time researching for theories, and I couldn’t see how it would help in our project. I was more of an application person, and I knew I could keep up with creating the application…but first, we need to make a proposal.
This was the time when I was starting to become active in YFC again, and I guess that kind of got me distracted. I wasn’t in the mood to do thesis because I wanted to do other stuff. I also didn’t really like our topic: Costing and Pricing for Entrepreneurs. It was kind of a disaster of a term. We got a redefense verdict for our first defense, and finally a fail on our redefense. I cried in the lobby right after, but I knew it was really where we were headed.
What happened next? Two words: summer term.
IS-RESM, Part 2. We had to take IS-RESM again during summer term because if we don’t, we’d be delayed a term. Our first term was for OJT, originally, so instead of just attending to our internship, my thesismates and I have to meet every night at school to work on our thesis proposal. We picked a different topic, something we liked (Amusement Park Physics), but there were a lot of tension between the group. I, for one, felt that I was the reason we failed last term, because I didn’t give my all to thesis. I felt like my thesismates were blaming me for our failure, and if only I worked harder during the last term, we wouldn’t be there.
It was during this time that I learned to pray everyday for thesis. I went to mass everyday, I put thesis over everything else. This is when I learned (the hard way) that thesis changes your life.
We got to make a pretty sound theoretical framework, but we were still nervous about it all. On the day before our defense, my thesismate dropped me off to the dorm. On the way there, he asked me if I was ready, and then I burst out crying — I let out all my fears and my tension. When we got to the dorm, we prayed and then he set me off.
After a canceled defense, we went to our defense, and we passed with flying colors. :)
I remember my verse back then: “…after you have suffered a little, he will bring you to perfection.” – 1 Peter 5:10 :) How true.
ISTHES1. ISTHES1 is really just an in-between course, one that sort of bridges the gap between the IS-RESM and ISTHES2, the ones that really count. This is important, too, but we took this time to relieve the pressure on ourselves since all we had to submit was one module. It was still kind of hard for me, though, because I had to sacrifice a lot of weekends to work on thesis, and we had a hard time figuring out what approach to pick. There was another crying moment for me, because I was feeling homesick on one weekend, already, but we did manage to pass our module and pass the subject.
Oh, and it was also difficult for me because I had a hard time sacrificing my YFC activities for thesis. I found myself resisting again, but fear of failing got me thinking of thesis and putting it first.
ISTHES2. Ah, judgment term. This term greeted us with the news that we only had a month till the deadline. Groups started dropping the final thesis subject left and right, while our group decided to keep on fighting. I remember drawing our framework and our checklist on our thesis room glass wall — which isn’t allowed — just so we can focus. My classes were only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I was at school from Monday through Saturday, working, programming and everything that we needed to do.
I had to miss the first GK 1MB event for thesis, where we stayed over at my thesismate’s house over the weekend to work. We were actually in pretty good shape and I became very adept in Action Scripting. ;) There were some slight arguments, but nothing is ever not solved without food. ;)
I had a couple of all-nighters that were dedicated to debugging our program. We actually finished the software on time, and managed to have a testing too. There was a minor snag on my part, but it wasn’t really thesis-related and I’ve learned to compartmentalize the different parts of my life so it won’t affect anything else.
I prayed for thesis everyday. I couldn’t bear the thought of failing. There was a time when I had a dream that we went out of the defense room crying, and that really shook me up. But then I had a vision of us laughing as we went out of the room, and I held on to that, declaring that we will pass, regardless of how nervous I felt. On our last consultation before our defense, I was close to tears again because my groupmates and I couldn’t answer the questions our adviser was throwing at us.
My only prayer then was for us to accept whatever happens, to give our best and just pray for God’s will. On the day of our defense, the group who went on defense before us was in the room for about four hours, and theses defenses are supposed to last only up to two. Our thesis adviser arrived and we learned that one of our panelists isn’t present, but he got another professor to be our panelist and we started.
The defense itself was actually quite…smooth. The awesome thing about our adviser is he was also our panelist. The questions he asked during our mock defense were the same questions he asked during the defense, so we knew what to answer. We went our for their deliberation with bated breaths, and our blockmates were outside, asking us how it went. We went in again, answered more questions and then we went out to wait for the verdict. And then…
“Okay…we’re giving you a PASS WITH MINOR REVISIONS…”
I swear, I couldn’t take the smile off my face once I heard that. When our panelists left, my thesismate carried me in joy and we were both happy to know that we’d be celebrating our birthdays happy because we finally, finally passed thesis.
Of course, there were still the minor document edits that almost cost our grade, and the binding and stuff that I had to pass for course card, but all in all, it was sweet, sweet victory. :)
Today marks the day, four years ago, when we had our final defense. :) And won the battle. :)
My thesismates and I became very good friends because of all that we have experienced. Often times, we’d reminisce our thesis days when we’d meet, and we still tease each other just the same. In a way, I’m glad that we failed our proposal, because if we didn’t, we probably would have failed the next thesis subject and extend our stay in school. And the guys were one of my greatest friends, and I don’t think I would have wanted to done thesis again with any other people.
Other than our project, thesis taught me a lot of things, too. It helped me expand my borders, think creatively and keep on praying. It helped me trust God more, and thesis is one of the reasons I am who and where I am today. :)
It may sound exaggerated, but I assure you it’s not. I can regale you with more thesis stories, but I don’t want this post to be too long. But like I said: thesis changes your life. :)