The last major academic hurdle that many Princeton seniors must clear to graduate is completing their senior thesis. The senior thesis consists of original research and a significant written component and serves as the culminating experience of a student’s time at Princeton. Despite the important nature of the senior thesis, the thesis binding process has significant flaws. The Board recommends that each department implement two changes to improve the thesis submission process: set the deadline for binding of the thesis after the due date of the thesis itself and subsidize the cost of binding for students on financial aid.

As the system currently stands, some departments require seniors to deliver bound copies of their thesis to their department and thesis advisor on their department’s due date. Because of the time it takes for an order to be processed, many students must actually finish writing their thesis at least two days ahead of time, creating an earlier de facto thesis deadline. Not only does this add stress at a crucial point in a student’s career, but it may well detract from the finished product. Instead of focusing on revising and editing, a senior’s focus is on the banal intricacies of getting their thesis bound before the deadline.

We recognize the importance of some departmental preferences for ultimately receiving a more durable bound copy and of the practicality of submitting a printed copy on the deadline itself. Advisors are under time constraints to return each thesis and many prefer to read a hard copy. The Board proposes that these departments resolve these competing concerns through a simple solution: require seniors to turn in their printed theses on the due date, but in a less-formal binder of some sort. At a later time, to be determined by each department in the same way as the deadlines themselves, bound copies should be due. This saves each advisor the hassle of reading the thesis electronically or printing it out and does not cost seniors multiple days of valuable thesis revision.

Additionally, the Board is concerned by the lack of funding available for thesis binding. Two bound copies of a thesis can cost around $100, which may be a financial barrier for some students. Especially considering the general availability of funds for thesis research, we strongly encourage the University to subsidize the cost of thesis binding for students with a demonstrated need. Again, this would reduce seniors’ stress at this key time and allow them to focus on their theses instead of worrying about how to pay for binding.

The rigorous nature and length of the senior thesis sets the Princeton undergraduate experience apart. But, even given its central role, the senior thesis process still has flaws that create unnecessary stress. By extending the due date for bound copies of theses and providing funds to cover the cost of binding these copies, the University can improve this culminating experience.

TheEditorial Boardis an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor and the Editor-in-Chief.

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