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What is a Colloquium? Must I Go to One?

A colloquium is an assembly for discussion. In fact you must attend two of them. In our Honors Program, student are required to participate in two colloquia (yes, folks, that's the plural); one during the Tutorial semester, and one during the Thesis semester. Students engaged in Tutorial and Thesis are also requested to invite their advisors. Students in the first and second year of the Honors Program are also welcome to attend colloquia as visitors.

The lively discussions on current honors research is always interesting, and the meetings often answer particular questions about process and problems.

There are three to four colloquia offered per term. They take place in the Honors Lounge and are split between TTH and MW schedules. Some are in the lunch hour, others later in the afternoon. Generally 10-50 people make up the colloquium group. While large meetings may take a few hours, most colloquia run about one and a half. Be prepared to stay for the duration of the meeting once you commit to a time. (Sign up sheets are on the Honors Bulletin Board.) Having people walk out in the middle of a presentation is very disconcerting to presenters and audience alike. Since you expect people to listen to your discussion, you should be ready to listen to all the others in the group and participate or ask questions. You would be surprised how many problems find solutions during a colloquium. It is a place for networking.

The colloquium, despite its Latin name, is not a formal session. It is an opportunity to discuss and share with other people an overview of the research you have undertaken for your Tutorial and Thesis. In essence it is an oral progress report and process report combined. In the progress section you should talk about the topic and the conclusions you are reaching as a result of your research. In the process section you should talk about your methodology, including your method of working with your advisor. If you have had any problems --as in finding material on your subject, or meeting with your advisor on a weekly basis, or getting responses to a questionnaire, or duplicating results in a laboratory-- you should bring them into the discussion. If you have any questions, these should also be raised.

The length of your presentation should be 5-10 minutes. Some students bring note cards or illustrations to help the audience understand their work. No written paper is required. You should plan to discuss rather than read. Your advisor may discuss your work with you.

If you choose a colloquium date that is early in the semester, you might not have much of your work completed. Students who want direction or specific help generally choose early dates. If you choose a later date, you will be able to say something about your conclusions, and your presentation may give you a sense of completion or closure on the project. This is another reason we have colloquia. Independent study can be a very lonely process. Once you become an expert on the topic you have chosen, it can be exhilarating to share your work with other people. Finishing a Thesis is euphoric. It should give you a great sense of accomplishment, and it is fun to share that feeling. At the same time, you'll be surprised how many students feel slightly depressed when the

Thesis is over. They have worked on it for so long that it becomes a part of everyday life, and finishing creates a big hole. The colloquium is the place to express all of the feelings that you have had in working on your Tutorial and Thesis. Then you can let go!!!!