If you’ve been a college student for longer than a month, you have definitely heard of a “thesis statement.” Perhaps a professor told you that you had a good one or that you needed a stronger one. Did you wonder what that meant? Wonder no more! Here is a simple approach to writing quality thesis statements.
Imagine you created the next greatest invention. You worked so hard on this invention and you want others to buy it. You’ve been given a spot on one of the home shopping channels. Congratulations! You know that you can sell your invention during your half hour program. However, now you have been tasked with creating a 30-second commercial to air on the channel for one week prior to your program to help build interest. Uh oh. How can you boil down your amazing idea into a 30-second commercial? You know that the commercial has to be good to convince people to tune into the full program for more details. The commercial must say just enough to gain the interest and trust of the viewers but not too much to make them think they don’t need to watch the whole program.
Using this analogy, the 30-second commercial is the same as your thesis statement. It is a hint of what the rest of your essay discusses. Your essay can cover an amazing topic, but the reader must have the desire to dive in to get there. You must say enough in your thesis statement to let the readers know what your essay is about, but you don’t want to say too much and make the readers think they don’t need to spend time reading the rest of your essay because they already know what you are going to say. Yes, I know this is a fine line. Let’s look at some examples:
- Education is important.
What do you think of this thesis statement? Does it let the reader know what your essay is about? Sort of. I suppose one would know that the essay is about education, but that is a really broad topic. This is not an effective thesis statement because it is too vague.
- A college degree is important because it shows that someone has learned something.
What about this thesis statement? It is more specific than the first, right? It narrows down education to college education and focuses on learning. However, would you feel inclined to read the rest of the essay? Probably not. This thesis statement makes an obvious statement, and that never catches the attention of the reader.
- A college degree is important because it improves a person’s chances of obtaining a high paying job.
Now we are getting somewhere! This is specific and states something interesting. Wouldn’t you like to know how and why a college degree gives you a better chance at making more money? With the reader’s attention, now you can prove why this is so.
Once you have a specific thesis statement, you can write the rest of your essay to prove that point. Do not include information that is outside the realm of that thesis statement. Based on this example, there is no reason to discuss effective study habits. It has nothing to do with this topic. Stay on topic and make sure every single sentence proves this point. This is the starting point for an effective and organized essay!