I’ve been at university nearly 19 months. I can still remember the sleepless night before my first day travelling to Leicester and the ridiculous jokes I tried to make to maybe bond with my housemates and make friends. It feels like it was maybe two weeks ago?? The memories are fresh and time has flown like crazy, but it’s not like I haven’t done a ton of things since that first ridiculous joke filled day, but in all that time, ‘dissertation’ was a word that felt a long way off before it would be relevant to me.
After first term this year, however, my friends in third year started posting Facebook status’ about their dissertations, everyone seemed a lot more busy, and my timetable saw an hour dedicated to ‘dissertation workshop’. As terrifying as it seemed, the workshop was helpful and everything felt very accessible. We were given a deadline of 22 March to submit our dissertation proposals and all of a sudden everyone, including my housemates on different courses, started filling conversations with talk of what their dissertation subject would be and being allocated a supervisor.
Different courses seem to all have a slightly different process and time scale, and although thinking about it so early in the year seems strange, it’s actually pretty nice to know that the subject is turning in your head well before it needs to start feeling stressful. A month or two ago I’d have told you I have no clue what my dissertation will be about, but being forced to think about it made me realise the back of my mind is a lot more aware of my personal and specific interests than I thought it was.
Writing a proposal isn’t as stressful as it sounds. From what I gathered, it’s essentially just an opportunity to start thinking about it as well as communicating your thoughts to the department so that you can be allocated your best suited supervisor. In our workshop, we were told that nothing is concrete, our proposed title is always a working progress and changing your subject (although not advised because your supervisor can’t change once they’re allocated) is always an option.
Third year friends have told me that summer reading is the key to doing well in your dissertation and more and more I’m hearing that the earlier you start the better it is for your dissertation and for you. And since I’ve also recently come to learn that your dissertation and the grade you get in it are more or less the most important and deciding factor in your degree’s overall grade, I’m actually more than okay with thinking about it so soon.