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Volume 72, Issue 124, Friday, April 6, 2007

Opinion

Thesis mentors must live up to their duty 

Santiago Lopez
Opinion  Columnist

To be a mentor is a tremendous undertaking. With one good word or several bad ones, you can send someone into a life-changing digression. 

It's especially important when a student's degree is hanging in the balance, as in the case of a Senior Honors Thesis. 

The UH Honors College Web site boasts a "close consultation with an expert member of the faculty, to define and carry through a significant line of research or a creative enterprise." This hints at many hours of face-to-face meetings and e-mails back and forth between student and adviser. But what sometimes occurs in practice is nothing inspirational or even significant. 

Though the Honors Thesis guidelines notes that some seniors and graduates report it as "their most gratifying undergraduate experience," some may not feel this way because of a lack of input from a designated mentor. 

For whatever reason, a faculty adviser may find a student to need the most minimal of input -- as a student working on a thesis does so in an independent manner -- per the thesis guidelines. While it is composed in an autonomous fashion, the thesis does need help along in its completion. 

Feigning a preoccupation with other tasks or missing appointments with students does to little to inspire faith in said faculty member. Such an adviser should reconsider whether the advisory role is an endeavor he or she should continue.

This far into the semester, it is too late for any relevant comments that would point the thesis writer in the right direction. All a student with a self-guided thesis has to look forward to is standing before the review committee and hoping that turning in any thesis will yield a satisfactory response.

While the Honors thesis is an independent study project, it is up to the adviser to offer feedback, criticism and guidance. No student wants to put his or her name on sub-par work, as much as no faculty member should want to be known as the mentor who blew his or her role as a sage. 

Lopez, a creative writing senior, 
can be reached via dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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