None of your topics interest me

It's that time of year again, next-to-last semester students suddenly realize that the deadline for applying for their bachelor's thesis (a stupid thing invented in Germany as a "little" Diploma-Thesis which makes life difficult for everyone) is approaching fast.

I only advise a few people, as I want to advise them properly. And as a crotchety old professor I long ago decided to only advise students writing on topics that interest me.

Some people who did not attend my elective course on sub-field X suddenly discover that there is a lot of money to be made in X and really want to write their thesis there. I do not want to have to explain the details of tying their shoelaces in subfield X, however, so I usually refuse this request. I sometime relent, and then regret it immensely, as they just don't get far enough with their work when they don't understand the basics of the subfield.

I often have people write to me saying: "I want to do my thesis with you, but I do not like your topics. Please give me one that interests me." I get extremely irritated at this ego-centric view. Here they are, not even paying for the privilege of studying, and then making all sorts of demands on me.

I am rather a bitch to write for - I insist on weekly meetings and bringing something along to show me and to discuss. This usually means an all-nighter the night before the meeting, but it does seem to get results. I also rip what I see to shreds, being especially caustic about misspellings. We do have spelling checkers, you know.

I wish we could get rid of these theses. They don't get far in only 8 weeks worth of work, it is a job to read all the theses all handed in at the same time, and really difficult to then schedule the oral exams to accompany them. They should just get a Bachelor's degree for credits earned, and then we can concentrate on real work - Master's theses.

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