Skip Navigation

Thoughts on the Massive Senior Project, a.k.a. “Comps”

April 13, 2018 at 9:30 am
By Chase Garcia '19

In order for every Carleton student to graduate, we have to finish a term- (or more!) long process called “comps.” This is basically the equivalent of a senior thesis or term-long research project at other colleges...but it’s mandatory.

Since I’m graduating really early for a member of the Class of 2019, I’ll be comps-ing really early. For the linguistics major comps, we work individually on a topic of our choosing that falls under a theme that either faculty or students choose. This year the theme will be “Language Contact,” so looking at how languages interact with each other and how this sometimes result in changes in the structure of the languages involved. It’s really fascinating and I’m excited that we’ve decided on this!

For my own project, I’ll probably be looking at the relationship between East Asian languages - Korean, Japanese, maybe Chinese - and how this relationship led to grammatical change. To complete the entire process, I’ll be working with my advisor this term to develop a research plan and have a topic and research question finalized, and then after summer break I’ll return fall term to conduct the actual research. All of this then culminates with an oral defense of my findings at the end of the term.

Some Carleton students gripe about the amount of work that goes into comps, but a lot of the difficulties that come with comps have to do with the fact that most of the responsibility is on you and you only have weekly meetings with your comps advisor to hold you accountable. Personally, I think comps is a great way for students to really combine all of the analytical skills and knowledge they’ve gained from the major, be creative, and produce something worthwhile as a culmination/celebration of their academic accomplishments at Carleton.

I’ll give periodic updates about how my comps process is going!


Chase is a junior linguistics major and is more than glad to exchange the year-round California heat for some Minnesota seasonality. In his free time, he enjoys learning and teaching urban dance choreography, playing guzheng, and cycling around Northfield. When Chase doesn't have free time, which is often, he'll be in the libe or Sayles with a cup (or cups) of chai tea in hand.

Comments for this post are turned off