When I was a Freshman here at Allegheny, an upperclassman tried to explain the comp to me. At the time, all I saw it as was some overwhelming, large and intimidating monster that I would one day in the far off distant future have to face alone. Now here I am facing down the monster, sword in hand, only to discover that it’s not so much a monster as it is a pet.
The project, coined the “comp”, is the comprehensive senior project that everyone needs to complete to graduate from Allegheny. Instead of being some foreboding task or busying obligation, the comp is a research project that you select yourself based on your personal interests in your field of study.
Each department holds their own unique requirements, but what is true to all departments is the aid in which you are given to complete the project. You personally choose your comp adviser who may or may not be the same as your academic adviser. Regardless, you always have a guide who is willing to critique your work and provide meaningful ideas and assistance along the way.
Sure, it took me a long time to find a comp topic. With a project this big, I knew that I had to do it on something that I was truly passionate about or else I would struggle through it. I fended off many monster ideas before finding one that I loved, tamed, and came to see as a sort of pet that I could grow and cherish. (Lame analogy? Just go with it.) Sure enough, now I enjoy working on my comp. Everyday (yes this is a project that demands attention everyday, like a pet) I add something to it and also get something out of it, whether it’s interesting knowledge or personal insight.
Due this Spring, the comp is sure to bring me many challenges and long nights (like tonight – I have some stuff due for it before break), but in the end when I present it, I know I’ll have grown from this rigorous academic work; not seeing it as a monster work, so much as seeing it as grooming a friendly pet to show off at a show, proud of my accomplishments.