Why write a dissertation? Here are the top ten reasons why it could be your most rewarding college experience.
Dissertations are long academic essays based on independent research, usually due at the end of university courses. You need to write and complete a dissertation to achieve a passing grade in your final year of college. Dissertations require the student to deep-dive into a specific subject while thoroughly answering a question or preposition relating to a topic related to their college course.
According to TopUniversities, the steps to completing a dissertation are as follows:
- Defining and outlining a research area with a straightforward question;
- Identifying the leading issues;
- Sourcing the relevant information;
- Assessing its reliability and legitimacy;
- Evaluating the evidence on all sides of a debate;
- Coming to a well-argued conclusion;
- Organizing and presenting the outcomes of your work critically, convincingly, and articulately, following all the guidelines on how to format your essay.
Often, this is the most prolonged, arduous task of a student’s academic life. However, it can also be one of the most rewarding.
Top 10 Reasons Your Dissertation Could Be Your Most Rewarding College Experience
1. Ignite Creativity
Dissertations allow you to deep-dive into a subject you are genuinely interested in and find a solution to a problem within that area. The challenge of the task also requires you to ignite your creativity while doing so. You can even be creative in terms of what you choose to do your dissertation on.
This point was echoed within this graduate blog from Queen’s University Belfast. It reads:
“People… forget that dissertations are a chance for you to explore something that you are really interested in or a problem that you want to solve. You can be really creative and study whatever you would like within your subject. If you think of dissertations in this way, they are less intimidating and can actually be rewarding and even fun.”
2. Prepare For Your Career
When completing a dissertation, you use several valuable skills within the professional world. This can help build confidence and help you decide whether or not you are on the right career path.
Academic research certainly had that effect on Xavier Laurent of Oxford University. On his bio page for the university, he said:
“(Research) prepared me for work in the various fields I am interested in, e.g. teaching and learning, experimental psychology, social sciences and physics.”
3. Put Your Skills Into Action
Dissertations are usually due at the end of an academic course; it also gives you a chance to use the skills you have gained during your time at university. This is reassuring as it shows you that your work within the college was worthwhile and helped you finish a more significant project.
Siobhán McDermott, who did her dissertation at Trinity College, Dublin, discussed this point of view when writing for the university’s website. She wrote:
“The final year dissertation acted as a fantastic opportunity to put into practice the various research skills I had developed throughout the programme.”
4. Become a Better Writer
The nature of dissertations means that you are required to write about a given subject for many hours. In doing so, there is a good chance that you will become a better writer. Tegan Farrell is one writer who picked up on this occurrence.
She even wrote a blog about it, entitled ‘How My Thesis Made Me a Better Writer.’ Here, she discusses how this long-form piece of writing taught her to listen to editors, not procrastinate and be more efficient with her language. In addition, she distills the value of dissertation writing here:
“A 100-page academic thesis sounds like the opposite of short-form online writing, but I was surprised to find the nine months spent crafting mine made me a better writer in every form.”
5. Learn Project Management Skills
After you complete your degree or Ph.D., you will probably be looking to take the next step in your professional career. Thankfully, your dissertation has left you with plenty of skills that you will be able to transfer to the next step on your career path.
One invaluable talent that you will have is the ability to manage projects. This point is discussed in a blog by the London School of Economics. It reads:
“If you’ve managed… a large piece of work like a dissertation, then you can manage a project at work… Project management is shorthand for a huge range of skills, including time management, working alone, team work, communication, and perseverance”.
6. Grow Your Passion
You’ve probably heard the saying, “if you love what you do, you will never work a day.” Of course, the sentiment behind this is that if you are working on a passion project, it won’t feel like work. This is as true in academia as it is anywhere else. That is one of the key reasons your dissertation must focus on an area you are genuinely interested in.
This point is made on Academics.com, where they state:
“Find a topic that you can get excited about. After all, it will be a constant companion during lonely hours in the archive or lab, on your desk or in the classroom. The topic of your dissertation will probably occupy your mind on the weekends as well. Good dissertations develop over the years and are written by people who burn for whatever it is they are writing about.”
If you focus on an area you care about, there is a strong chance that your passion for this topic will grow over the time it takes to write your piece.
7. Become Calm Under Pressure
Let’s go into this with open eyes: there will be times when you are under pressure while writing your dissertation. For example, there will be an impending deadline, you will have writer’s block, or you won’t know where to go next.
However, if you complete your dissertation, you will know that you can deal with that pressure, which will stand for you. This blog from the London School of Economics summarizes this point. It reads:
“Completing your dissertation means that you can work under pressure and stay calm while managing multiple deadlines. Whether or not you were in the library at 4am sobbing into your notes the day before it due is irrelevant: you completed a large project once, and so that shows you can absolutely do it again!”
8. Enjoy the Editing Process
Anybody who has ever worked as a writer knows that actual writing is only a portion of your work. It could indeed be argued that editing is just as important. And that is a point you will understand entirely after writing a dissertation. If you don’t believe us, just look at this article in The Guardian. It reads:
“Be prepared to work through two or three drafts, refining your work each time, before you are happy with the end result.”
9. Launchpad to a Career
A dissertation doesn’t necessarily have to sit unopened after it’s completed and graded. It can be the ticket you need to progress to the next stage of your life or career.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill captures this sentiment well in a piece about dissertations. It reads: “If you take some care in developing your dissertation, the document can be transformed, after graduation, into a book or series of articles to help launch your academic career. Unlike earlier course papers that just received a grade and were shuttled off to a filing cabinet or trash bin, your dissertation can be used and revised for years to come.”
10. Complete Your Final Task
The satisfaction from completing your final task at college will be immeasurable, and you need to finish it to pass. Completing a dissertation is often an economic requirement for a university course. That means you will not qualify if you do not complete the dissertation.
So, you might as well enjoy the process and get the most out of it. The question doesn’t necessarily have to be “why do a dissertation?” but rather, “what can I gain from doing a dissertation?”. Take a positive outlook and relish in the achievements you have completed. Look to the future and be proud of what you have accomplished.
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