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Senior Honors Project

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Choosing a Topic

Finding a topic is a process--often a lengthy one--and will more than likely grow out of conversations with friends, fellow Honors students, and professors, in and out of class. Students should start thinking and talking about ideas as soon as possible. It is not uncommon for this process to begin as soon as the freshman and sophomore years.

A Senior Honors Project should be interesting and engaging to the student undertaking it. This is one of the most important factors in determining the success or otherwise of a project. When thinking about project topics, students should reflect on which courses they have found interesting, and why. Often, a project topic grows from a persistent question a student has studied or written about in a course that he or she valued. Honors seminars often provide a unique forum for students to develop and test ideas that may grow into project topics. 


Background

A Senior Honors Project is not the place to explore a discipline for the first time. Students must have some background experience in the topic. While it is not required to take place within the student's major, it ought to involve some coursework in the proposed area of study, almost certainly beyond a single introductory level class. Taking elective courses in areas that involve possible project topics is a great way to initially explore those topics. It is never too early to start taking those classes. Students who are unsure of the best courses to explore their interests can talk to their major advisor, professors who teach in that area, or the Honors directors.


Focus

Once a student has determined an appropriate topic, the next task is to focus it, to pare away the excess material and bring it down to a size that is achievable within the context of a Senior Honors Project. It is common for students to start out with a big question or set of questions, only to then scale down to a smaller, more manageable topic. This is part of the process. The faculty advisor can help students work through these issues and offer suggestions and guidance on focusing the project topic.