Advice needed: Thesis or no thesis?

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Sep 26, 2006
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Hey guys! I am really confused as to what to do and thought I would ask you guys to see if you had any advice/ similar situations...

Next semester, I will be a second semester junior. I am in the honors program at my college and will be graduating with general honors. Now is the time to decide whether or not I am going to go for departmental honors as well. The thing is, my major is psychology, and honestly, doing a huge project in a field that I am not very interested in seems a bit daunting to me. (I know...I know...why is this my major?) I know that having a thesis of publishable quality would be a plus on my med school apps but is it worth it?

I have a good GPA, will take the MCAT in April, have alot of research/internship experience.

Any advice would be fabulous!!:)

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Doing a thesis is the only way to get honors at my school. I had the opportunity, but chose not to do it. Why would I want to bust my ass and write a 60-page paper after doing research I don't want to do in the first place? Forget that. You don't need it to get into med school. You'll be in the thick of your thesis while interviewing for med school, so it won't even be finished. I suppose you can put it on your AMCAS somehow, but it won't be finished when you interview. So you'll likely be doing that thesis after you've been accepted, and that would be no fun. All you're going to want to do is party and take it easy. If you don't want to do it, don't do it. You'll regret it later.

I didn't do the thesis and still got into a top 20 school. Study hard for the MCAT. (Read the advice in the MCAT forums and then don't visit SDN much when you're studying.) You won't be at a disadvantage for not doing a thesis.
if you're going to be getting honors anyway, why waste your time doing research/a thesis for psych if you're not interested in it? Do something better with your time, something you ARE interested in. Trust me, doing research you hate is pure torture.
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yeah, i agree...if it makes you sick to your gut...forget it. do things you are excited about!
Definitely don't do it if you are not excited about your topic. A thesis is never done until the deadline. Every time I finish regular homework, the books are on the shelf above my desk, beckoning me seductively. If you don't care enough about the topic to be thinking about it all the time, research is going to be painful and the actual writing will only get worse. And I really don't think departmental honors will tip you into medical school.
i agree dont do it unless its something you're excited about
dont do it...i am regreting doing it right now...senior year is hard enough to want to work hard but this makes it harder and more frustrating
Out of curiousity, exactly why did you select a major you didn't enjoy? Did you get lured in initially, only to get turned off by the field? I don't think I could offer advice without a better idea as to how you got to the point of an honors thesis in a field you apparently don't like.
Negative on the thesis...only do it if you REALLY REALLY REALLY love the topic.

I miss the research a bit...but with all my time committments during school, I don't think I would be able to balance it all out. Lab work is something that really consumes me and leaves little free time.
thank so much for all of the replies....

for those of you who are wondering why I am in this major....I was originally going to defer from school a year and ride horses professionally. At the last moment (ie: in July) I decided I really wanted to go to school and jumped into Clemson choosing Psych as a major on the fly. I do like psychology, I'm just not that into it. And I know that I do not want to use it in the future...I want to be an Oncologist or a Radiologist. By the time I really wanted to switch majors, it would take me so long to graduate and I just want to go to med school ASAP. I am minoring in biochem and really love that!

Thank you so much guys! I really appreciate the advice and am strongly leaning towards not doing the thesis....
Okay, I am going to weigh in on the other side. I would say do the thesis.
My college also required doing a year long research thesis to get honors so I did one. My topic was chemical communication in cray fish. Guess what? I was NOT INTERESTED in my thesis. However I trudged through it, spent lots of afternoons avoiding pinchers and ended up doing a pretty good job and got a good grade on it.
Fast forward two years and I am interviewing for my current pre-clinical research job. My (now) boss asked me if I had any research experience. I was able to relate my thesis research experience and used my advisor for my main reference. There were over 100 applicants for this job. I am sure the main reason I got it was because I had previous experience doing research on a project from start to finish so to speak.
You never know what the future will bring. You may not get in to med school the first go round and will need to look for a job. In that case previous research expereicne will be a huge benefit.
My advice would be to NOT do the thesis. Here's why:

- you will be choosing topics/supervisors/doing background research while trying to maintain a high average in other classes + completing med applications
- from everyone I know who has done one or is currently doing one: the thesis becomes your life. You will be researching, asking for grants, meeting subjects, meeting supervisors, writing articles etc etc etc all day every day.
- one of my roommates last year actually changed her major and was doing her Second thesis last year, she always said to do it only if you are really truly interested in the research and plan to do some research later.
So unless you put it to use later on in life, it really becomes sort of worthless and you are probably better off doing other things you enjoy or working or volunteering.

As someone above mentioned, it may look good if you want a job in research but so will having an internship or working in a lab along side your prof. There are other ways to get into the labs and gain research experience without having to sacrifice your life. And since you are somewhat doubtful I would say that for you the thesis is probably not the way to go.

But then again ask yourself if you are honestly interested in research? If you are even slightly thinking about doing some research in med school or as backup, then go ahead and do the thesis and take a lighter course load to balance it.
Don't even think about it. It's not going to count for much, and it'll take away the precious time that you have now to relax before med school attacks.
If you really aren't interested in it then don't do it, but how do you know you wouldn't find research enjoyable? Some people really enjoy research and the process of writing a really long paper of top quality. It could be fun in a nerdy sort of way.
I think you should consider whether you might want to go into academic medicine too. If you think you might want to do research in your career, getting some experience now would help you. Plus, I agree with the previous poster that you can't know whether you would like doing research without actually doing some. But if you have already done some research and you hated doing it, then I think you are better off doing something else that you like better.
Is it possible to do a research project in biochem? My college allowed us to do a research project in our minor if we wanted.

I wasn't thrilled about my research project either (foraminifera). The most important thing I learned a lot about was what goes into research and how to write a paper. I am happy to have this knowledge in med school. When it comes time to write papers, do research, or work in a lab this summer, I have an advantage over many others. Don't think of your thesis as a 60 page monster. My intire thesis (references, cover page, etc.) was only 25 pages. Your project can be as big or little as you want it to be as long as you pick a prof that will work with you. If I had a vote, I would say, do the project.