Blogger: Claire Marsden
Hello world! New blogger here. My name is Claire Marsden, and I’m a senior Politics major and an Admissions Senior Fellow from South Orange, New Jersey.
It’s starting to feel very real that in about two months, I will be graduating from Oxy. It feels like just yesterday that I was schlepping my huge Parent Trap-style yellow duffel bag up the hill to Braun Hall and taking a sweaty ID photo thanks to the 90+ degree heat (perhaps because I am haunted by that photo every time I hand over my ID to buy food at the Marketplace). As a first year, I remember thinking about graduating and feeling like it would never come – that I would be forever hanging out in the Quad, tanning on Stewie Beach, and eating sandwiches made by Kathy the sandwich lady. Mostly, though, I was afraid of the five-letter word that plagues the life of each and every graduating senior: comps.
For Politics majors like me, our senior comprehensive project involves an independent research paper, in which students are asked to at least attempt to put forward new findings in the field of political science. The paper is typically between 30 and 45 pages, which to an incoming first year (and honestly also to an outgoing senior) sounds terrifying. But – slowly and steadily – I’m making my way there. For my comps, I’m analyzing merit briefs, the arguments that attorneys submit to the Supreme Court, to determine whether attorneys tailor their arguments directly to the Court’s swing voter to influence his vote – and in turn, influence the Supreme Court’s precedent and change conceptions of constitutional issues. The problem with comps is that because you’re working on it for so long, you might start to get totally sick of your topic – luckily that hasn’t happened yet, but I do have three and a half weeks to go! (YIKES.)
On every Tuesday night this semester, my nine-person comps cohort meets up for dinner. With our advisor, we share our high and low points of the past week’s comps work over dinner and help each other with our projects, so I’m going to share mine with you! My low is that I have made ZERO progress on my paper in the past week. But my high is that the reason I’ve made zero progress is because it’s been sPriNg bReAk!! I’m a firm believer that you need to balance hard work with lots of fun to keep your spirit energized, and my road trip up to San Francisco and Napa Valley with some friends definitely did the trick.
I know it’s almost time for admissions decisions to come out, so my advice to all you high school seniors is to put away the stress for the day (or the week, like I did) and take a break! Maybe it’s the New Jersey in me, but I love just driving down the highway blasting some music. And if that highway leads you to the vineyard where they filmed the Parent Trap, that’s even better (see the picture – highlight of my life). As a senior, everything starts to come full circle – back to being a first year, back to your favorite childhood movie – and helps you appreciate where you are now. Even if that means I have to look at my horrible ID photo forever.