Advice: Student Kelly Toner Shares Honors Thesis Survival Tips


Student, smiling, leans forward to smell red roses growing on rosebush.

Kelly Toner takes time to smell the roses.

I’m currently a junior nursing student from Springfield, Missouri. I’m working with Dr Cara Osborne in the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing. My topic is: increasing the effectiveness of volunteers working with Midwives for Haiti through the use of an orientation module. We’re creating and piloting an original orientation module with volunteers traveling to Haiti to help teach midwifery skills with the non-profit organization “Midwives for Haiti.”

Thesis Survival Tips:

  • A thesis doesn’t have to be difficult
  • Pick something you are truly interested in
  • Find an advisor before you are even considering starting your thesis
  • Ask your advisor if they have any projects they could use help with (easy way to pick a topic, you’re helping them out, they will have a lot of different places you can publish your work)
  • Apply for SURF (make sure you pick a topic and an advisor before the fall of your Junior year)
  • Never be afraid to ask for help. Teachers WANT you to do research because it makes them look good. You are helping them out.
  • The honors college staff are the nicest people you will ever meet. Dont’ hesitate to go in and talk to them about thesis topic ideas, needing help, needing motivation, how to do such-and-such, or how to figure out so-and-so. They will bend over backward to help you. And they’ll love you through it all.
  • Get to know some professors your freshman and sophomore year. You’ll need good reference letters for more than just thesis grants, so buddy up with them so they know what an amazing student you are and how dedicated you are to your education.
  • Try not to procrastinate. Senior year will be fun, and it will be so much more enjoyable if you worked on your thesis your junior year.
  • Your topic doesn’t have to be groundbreaking or life-changing. No matter what you pick, as long as you are dedicated to the topic, it will be GREAT.
  • Think about how you can pick a topic that will get you some brownie points with future employers (AKA pick something that will look good to a boss in that job you’ve always wanted). Thesis experience is great to grandfather you into a specific area, so be thinking about your future when you’re picking a topic.
  • Talk your thesis topic idea out with someone. The more you explain it, the more ready you will be to write it and the more excited you’ll get about it. (Or you’ll discover that it bores you to death and you really dont’ want to write about that particular subject).
  • ENJOY IT! An honors thesis is a GREAT way to meet professors, set yourself above the rest, accomplish something great in undergrad, boost your resume for grad school or a job, and an amazing opportunity for scholarships. TAKE ADVANTAGE of our wonderful honors program, the staff, the scholarships, and the opportunity to accomplish something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
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One Response to Advice: Student Kelly Toner Shares Honors Thesis Survival Tips

  1. csg says:

    Your tips are extremely helpful and spot-on, Kelly. I love your research (congratulations on your new Honors College Research Grant – the one you will get official notification on Monday!) Your research will save many lives of mothers and newborn babies.

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