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Fears & Tips About Your Thesis Defense

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As every Academic Magnet student knows, there is a requirement of the completion of a Senior Thesis. A Senior Thesis is a work comprised of five chapters:  the proposal, review of literature, methodology, findings of the study, and the evaluation. The process begins Junior Year with a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and Thesis class. Here, a topic, mentor, and adviser is decided. The process of researching, writing, and editing, is tedious and boring to some; however, when the defense date arrives, it all comes together. The completion of your thesis and the celebration of the work that was completed is exercised during the defense.

Many students are nervous for the defense for an array of reasons. Some may have a fear of public speaking, an uneasy feeling about being asked questions they may not know the answer to, or simply presenting findings and conclusions about a topic they are not an expert in. Claire Hunt says she is most nervous about “being asked arbitrary questions [she] is not prepared for” while Rowan Burns is afraid of “sounding like an idiot.” Junior, Ashley Bryan, thinks “[she’ll just start laughing in the middle of it. [She] laughs when [she’s] nervous.” Baxter Barrett agrees with Claire Hunt and says he fears “that [he’s] going to get asked a question [he doesn’t] know the answer to.”

Seniors Campbell Daffin and Chase Michaelsen were asked a series of three questions about their thesis defense.

What were you most scared about before presenting your thesis?

Daffin: “I kept thinking what if I get in there and throw up? I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of my mentor.”

Michaelsen: “I thought I was going to stutter and Mr. Stackhouse was going to laugh at me.”

How did you deal with it during your presentation?

Daffin: “I just told myself that I was just talking in front of a couple people and it was going to be all over soon. I just really wanted the cookies you made me.”

Michaelsen: “I just kept thinking that thesis is only a completion grade and I knew all the information I was talking about very well.”

What do you recommend to future presenters?

Daffin: “I recommend going through your paper and highlighting important pieces you should talk about during your defense and practice it only a few times.”

Michaelsen: “Don’t worry about it that much and it will be a lot more relaxed than you think it will be.”

Campbell Daffin received a 100 on her presentation and Chase Michaelsen received a 95.

Mrs. Bortz was then asked what pieces of advice she would give to the juniors and seniors who are going to present and she said, “get done with enough time to practice. You’re going to be nervous. Don’t do your PowerPoint the night before the presentation and don’t over practice.”

After presenting my thesis after Thanksgiving Break, I can personally relay that it is really not as bad as you think. My personal advice to you would be to just relax and be confident. Remember that everyone there is on your side and there to support you. If you get nervous, remember to look at the Smart Board and take a minute to look at your bullet points and remember the point you want to make on that slide. You know the information because you researched i;, you studied it, and you wrote about it. You know what you are talking about.

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