NEWS

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February 6, 2004

B.A. woes keep scholars on their toes

This quarter, a select group of College fourth-years are braving an array of socially unattractive symptoms, such as sleep-deprivation, schizophrenic behavior, weight gain, bad hygiene, and impotence.

Ask this affected population to explain the cause of their symptoms and they are likely to respond like fourth-year Amy Hickman: "I don't have time to answer your questions; I'm working on my B.A."

So the kitten claws.

Susan Snapp, a clinical social worker at Student Counseling and Resource Services (SCRS), has noticed through her line of work the toll B.A. research requirements can take on graduating seniors. She has initiated plans to establish a support group for students writing B.A. papers and projects.

"Over the years I've worked with students, one of the difficulties students have had is limiting the scope of the B.A. project," Snapp said. "It is usually the first major project they have done."

The support group, projected to start running by next year, is intended to bring together students from disciplines to share B.A.-oriented anxieties and devise effective time management and research strategies.

Snapp cited the long-term nature of the B.A. as the critical variable that can induce high anxiety levels among students. Despite most students being notified of department deadlines as early as the third quarter of their third year, most interpret it to mean that they have an indeterminate amount of time.

Most students are in the final stages of research and inching towards the tribulation of writing.

However, when students were informed of the creation of a B.A. support group, few were interested.

"If you want to whine and bitch, you go to your friends. If you're stuck on the technical details, you go to your adviser, and if you want to waste two hours, you go to seminar," said Kathy Skwarczek, a fourth-year in the College.

Whether the planned B.A. support group will provide students with substantial guidance remains to be seen.

The degree of anxiety many have toward their B.A. paper is related to departmental deadlines. While Latin American concentrators' outline is due next week, for example, sociology concentrators turned in their paper drafts last week.

A sociology concentrator, who in consideration of her social status wishes to remain anonymous, said, "The stress of getting the draft in on time made me shed hair, and we're not just talking from the head."

Other students have remained levelheaded during their B.A. ordeal. "The people having epileptic fits about their B.A. need to chill out. It's not going to affect the rest of their lives. They shouldn't let it besmirch their senior year," said fourth-year Chelsea Souter.

Perhaps the most rational piece of advice offered to future seniors planning on undertaking a B.A. paper or project comes from a senior student who opted out of completing one. Last year, upon deciding that she "didn't want the burden of a B.A.," fourth-year in the College Ana Martinez dropped her second concentration, in sociology, instead choosing to focus on psychology.

Said Martinez, "At first glance, dropping sociology might appear lazy, but this quarter I have to write four research papers for four classes. If you apply a cost and benefit analysis, I'm reviewing four topics in a condensed timeframe, rather than one topic that absorbs my whole senior year."