The second way one uses the word "thesis" is in reference to a major paper that one writes as a capstone for his or her bachelor's or master's degree. Whereas term papers are projects that last one term, theses are projects that last several terms. Theses are usually much, much longer than term papers, often stretching past two hundred pages. Perhaps counterintuitively, however, theses often cover much more specialized topics than term papers. For example, one may write a term paper on Herman Melville for a literature survey course, but one would be much more likely to write a thesis on homosexual symbolism in Herman Melville's Moby Dick or on some other extremely specific aspect of one of Melville's novels. In fact, one could write an entire thesis on a single paragraph of Moby Dick . The goal of a thesis is to expound fully one's opinion on a given subject and to confront and exhaust all the opposition to that opinion. Therefore, one usually specializes his or her thesis topic almost to the point of absurdity.
In a 1993 interview with The Washington Post, about the time the Clinton health care plan was being formulated and the thesis was being sealed, the first lady characterized her college writing as an argument against big government, supporting Alinsky's criticism of the War on Poverty programs. “I basically argued that he was right,” she told the newspaper. “Even at that early stage I was against all these people who come up with these big government programs that were more supportive of bureaucracies than actually helpful to people. You know, I've been on this kick for 25 years.”