I recently just submitted my thesis, and the entire thing was a disaster. I don't think I've ever been so stressed in my life, I hardly left bed for the duration of it and genuinely thought I might die of exhaustion trying to complete it. So I thought it would be a nice idea to share a few tips that I wish I'd know before I started my thesis. Keep in mind that I completed a science course and I'm writing this from personal experience. My thesis was based on a four week final year project which was on an experiment that I developed and carried out. Your thesis and project may have a different format, so I tried to keep these tips as general as possible.
Pick a topic that you're comfortable with
I'm a chemistry major. I picked a physics project and thesis. Do you see the problem here? When picking your project, make sure that you pick something you're interested in and think is within your capabilities. If you have to find your own topic then start looking well in advance for something that you find interesting. If you have to pick from a set list provided by the college, then pick the one that you feel most confident with. This topic will most likely become your life for the duration of the thesis.
Communicate with your supervisor
Your supervisor is there to help you. Use that. Let them know what you're doing each week so that they can guide you in the right direction if you're missing the mark. Keep them updated on your progress and if you're struggling then ask them for help. That's what they're there for, it's their job to supervise your project and to help you if you run into difficulty.
Find your format
A thesis must be submitted in a particular format. The guidelines for each differ slightly, but the general guidelines are the same. Your college should provide you with their preferred guidelines. If you are unsure of where to find them, ask your supervisor or look at previous submissions – these should be available in your library. When you've finished formatting and writing your thesis, then get someone else to read over it. Often when something is worked on so long, simple things can be overlooked. Labeling all figures and tables can often be forgotten, as can simple spelling or grammar errors. Having someone read over it will prevent this.
Do a Literature Review – even if you don't have to
A lit (literature) review is where you research previous papers and studies that have been carried out that are similar to the paper that you're about to write. By doing a lit review you'll have a greater understanding of your topic and this will make your life easier. It will also give you more ideas about how to approach and discuss your topic. By having all of the background information then you'll be able to write your paper much easier.
Do not write your entire thesis in the week that it's due. You will get no sleep, have horrible mood swings and you'll produce low quality work. Your best bet is to do it piece by piece, as you go along. This way you won't end up pulling your hair out in the final week.
If you have to submit your hard copy then don't leave it until the day it's due. Print and bind your thesis before that. Aim to have it submitted to a printing company a week before it's due. That way they'll have time to print and bind it, and deal with any complications that arise – low ink, printer mistakes, all other possible things that could go wrong! If it's an online submission then submit it at least two days early. You never know if your upload will fail, your internet decides to suddenly stop working or your computer crashes. To be safe it's definitely best to submit it early. That way you can avoid any last minute stress and drama!
Overall, your thesis doesn't have to be the most stressful event of your college life. If you plan it right and break it down into little pieces then you'll be able to do the best you possibly can. If done correctly then your thesis can be something you're proud of and can use in your future while securing a job. Best of luck!