A Puritanical Education

by susanedotcohen

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A far off land called undergrad

Once upon a time in a far off land called undergrad, a fair maiden was required to write a thesis. This maiden knew that in order to leave this land, she had to complete this substantial document. When asked what she would write about, the maiden came up with two ideas: the Dutch in New Amsterdam or the Puritans and their Half-Way Covenant. Encouraged by an advisor, she selected the latter. She really should have selected the former. (Seriously, what was she thinking)

Anyway, the maiden began to research the Puritans. The task was arduous and she was often confused and overwhelmed. She struggled to understand the Puritan’s Congregationalism. Her sources were in an English far different from her own. Frustrated, she began to procrastinate –  something no maiden should do. With the thesis due in a matter of weeks, the maiden eventually got to work. She logged long hours in the undergrad’s castle. (Columbia’s library is akin to a castle) However, she ran out of time and had to hand in whatever she had.  The maiden received a B+ on her thesis. (She has no problem publicly admitting her grade) She was disappointed, but knew that at least that mediocre grade would allow her to leave this far off land.

After graduating from this land, the maiden vowed never set foot in any far off land again. Instead, she went to the far off land called the real world. At first she liked the real world. She could go out to dinner on a weeknight. She thought that was really cool. However, the maiden missed the far off land called undergrad and decided to try a new far off land called grad school. She vowed that in grad school she would work harder and learn from her Puritanical choice. The maiden has kept her vow and dedicated herself to the pursuit of perfection. Just as in undergrad, she must write a thesis. (It is really a Master’s Essay) The maiden has begun to work on this big essay and promises to do better than that B+ and prove that she is an excellent academic.

The moral of the story is that if I had not selected the Puritans and received a B+ on my thesis, who knows if I would have gone to graduate school. My thesis shortcomings left me feeling like I had more to do academically. Part of that desire to do more was to apply what I had learned from my thesis. The thesis taught me how not to conduct research and construct a thesis so that now I am able to do it differently. That is a wonderful gift. I am so glad I received that B+ and more importantly, I am so glad that Barnard made me write a thesis. Thank you Barnard.

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