college level thesis statements
Compare the following:
These words tell the reader next to nothing if you do not carefully explain what you mean by them. Never assume that the meaning of a sentence is obvious. Check to see if you need to define your terms (вЂќsocialism,” “conventional,” “commercialism,” “society”), and then decide on the most appropriate place to do so. Do not assume, for example, that you have the same understanding of what вЂњsocietyвЂќ means as your reader. To avoid misunderstandings, be as specific as possible.
Bad: Reading can develop a child’s analytical mind.
– Words like “can,” aren’t strong enough. This thesis statement begs the question of how? If you’re about to write several paragraphs (or pages) about a topic make sure you can confidently defend every point you make.
Good: Reading develops a child’s mind by fostering comprehension skills, increasing vocabulary, and exposing them to new worlds they might not otherwise encounter.
– Now, we’ve not just stated that reading is good, we’ve provided a sampling of all the benefits we’re about to bring to light in our paper.
Think of it as a loving mother steering her children away from danger. Essay writers run the risk of getting off track and wandering into thickly wooded forests of needless tangents. (This is also why a well-planned outline is essential.) However, a solid thesis statement will help keep you in check. Refer back to it and ask have you wandered off topic?
Always Be Specific
You may have heard of something called a “thesis.” It’s what seniors commonly refer to as their final paper before graduation. That’s not what we’re talking about here. That type of thesis is a long, well-written paper that takes years to piece together.
Something that would be more debatable would be, “A puppy’s cuteness is derived from its floppy ears, small body, and playfulness.” These are three things that can be debated on. Some people might think that the cutest thing about puppies is the fact that they follow you around or that they’re really soft and fuzzy.
Your thesis statement should clearly identify an argument. You need to have a statement that is not only easy to understand, but one that is debatable. What that means is that you can’t just put any statement of fact and have it be your thesis. For example, everyone knows that puppies are cute. An ineffective thesis statement would be, “Puppies are adorable and everyone knows it.” This isn’t really something that’s a debatable topic.
A thesis is never a list. “For political, economic, social and cultural reasons, communism collapsed in Eastern Europe” does a good job of “telegraphing” the reader what to expect in the essay—a section about political reasons, a section about economic reasons, a section about social reasons, and a section about cultural reasons. However, political, economic, social and cultural reasons are pretty much the only possible reasons why communism could collapse. This sentence lacks tension and doesn’t advance an argument. Everyone knows that politics, economics, and culture are important.
Anticipate the counterarguments. Once you have a working thesis, you should think about what might be said against it. This will help you to refine your thesis, and it will also make you think of the arguments that you’ll need to refute later on in your essay. (Every argument has a counterargument. If yours doesn’t, then it’s not an argument—it may be a fact, or an opinion, but it is not an argument.)