How Senior Thesis Prepares ICS Students for College
By Mr. Zachary Smith, High School Social Studies
Senior Thesis is the capstone project of ICS Seniors. It is a rite of passage to move from becoming consumers of knowledge to producers. The class and project teach through participating in research and academic writing, which is aimed at preparing them for success in university. Topics are chosen by students out of interest and future career ambition, ranging from dance to engineering to political science to sports medicine. Some examples from this year's thesis titles are:
- The Woman Sleeping In the Store Room: Identity Negotiation of Domestic Workers
- Jesus Loves Me This I Know: What Does Christianity Say About Self-Esteem?
- Too Small to See, Too Big to Ignore: The Importance of Governing the Ethics of Nanotech
- Predicting a Printed Future: An Analysis of 3D Printing and Its Projected Outcome
- Sink or Swim: Interventions for Successful Transitioning from High School to College for Students with Asperger's Syndrome
Graduating seniors spend the first semester of their final year at ICS developing, planning, and executing their research. This culminates in a paper that reveals their original thoughts as they deeply reflect on their chosen topic. They then present their research during the Senior Thesis Expo, a public presentation forum to share their work.
This entire process brings about an important change in our seniors. It starts from the very beginning when they agonize over the topics in which to base their thesis on. On their research journey, the senior grow intellectually as they dive deeper into the issue and engage with their mentor in a discussion. They gain more than just knowledge, but also the endurance and determination to accomplish large and difficult tasks, driven by a vision of their own.
In an era of "fake news" and increasing social and technical complexity, the skills of Senior Thesis go beyond academia. The corporate world is more and more a "knowledge economy", in which navigating research is an essential skill. Political and social engagement requires us to evaluate sources and ask questions about the information we receive.
With the rate of change in modern societies, innovative responses to new challenges become a critical life skill, while we absorb large amounts of new information regularly. And, most important of all, the ability to communicate that knowledge to others determines the impact our students have, as well.
As a teacher, this is my 7th year being involved in the ICS Senior Thesis project. And, as I see ICS alumni go out to accomplish great things, many of them have communicated the importance of their Senior Thesis in preparing them for college work and in helping to build their interests which propelled them into their vocations. Many societies have rites of passage for their youth, difficult trials that are designed to prove that young people have what it takes to survive and thrive. After all the revisions, consultations, and debates are over, I am very proud to have helped the Seniors to forge one of the final links in the chain of their success upon which they can hang many more future achievements.