How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Paper in College

by John Whitfield EssayHelpWriter
Many students enter college with little or no idea about what constitutes a thesis statement, at least an effective one, or how to begin composing a statement that lets the reader know the main point or points they intend to make within the body of their essays or papers. All college students, however, can learn this valuable skill and, in so doing, improve the grades they earn on writing assignments not only in their English and EssayHelpWriter courses but in other courses as well.

What Is a Thesis Statement for a College Paper?

Expressed in one concise sentence, a thesis statement is the controlling idea or main point of a written work. This statement ordinarily appears within the first paragraph of a paper, and the idea it expresses is then explained, developed, and elaborated upon in subsequent paragraphs throughout the paper.

According to Jean Wyrick in Steps to Writing Well (2002), a thesis statement should answer these three questions:

  1. What is the subject of the essay?
  2. What is the writer’s opinion on this subject? (For example, in a persuasive essay on abortion, does the writer support freedom of choice or not?)
  3. What is the purpose of the essay (Is it to present an argument, to persuade, or to inform, etc)?
Note: Although usually the first sentence in the introductory paragraph of an essay or paper, the thesis statement can actually be placed anywhere within the paragraph, even at the very end.

Avoid Using Statements of Intention in College Papers

Some students, for some unexplained reason (perhaps it’s the lingering influence of high-school English teachers) confuse thesis statements with statements of intention. A thesis statement, though, is not the same as a statement of intention, which is a sentence that “announces” to the reader what the writer hopes to accomplish, although whether or not the writer actually does accomplish that goal is then left for the reader to decide, for example:

  • In this paper I will discuss how a joke I played on my friend, Tom, resulted in serious consequences for everyone involved.
  • This essay will examine T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and discuss why its theme can be summarized in one word: regret.

Here are the above statements of intention rewritten as thesis statements:

  • A joke I once played on my friend, Tom, resulted in serious consequence for everyone involved.
  • The theme of T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” can be summarized in one word: regret.

Formula for Creating a Thesis Statement

In The College Writer: A Guide to Thinking, Writing, and Researching, Randall VanderMey and coauthors suggest that students create a thesis statement by taking the general subject, which is quite often but not always “built into an assignment,” finding a limited topic (a particular aspect of the general subject), and then examining that limited topic for a specific angle (p. 41).

The authors provide this example of a subject, topic, and angle:

  • general subject: alternative energy source
  • limited topic: wind power
  • specific angle: a viable energy source in the Plains states (p. 41)

Then, according to VanderMey, et al, in order to develop a working thesis, which is a “statement in progress” and can be changed if necessary as the paper progresses, students should use this formula:

  • limited topic + specific angle = effective thesis statement

Using the example of wind power from above, the formula would look like this:

  • Wind power + viable energy source in the Plains states = Wind power provides a viable energy source in the Plains states.

Once they’ve developed a thesis statement, students should then conduct any necessary research, after which they should proceed to write the paper, providing details, explanations, examples, statistics, etc to support their thesis.

Students should remember, though, as they write their papers, especially the final copies, that an effective thesis alone is not enough to guarantee them a good grade. They also need to express themselves clearly and avoid such errors as these:

  • Comma splices and fused sentences
  • Paragraphs lacking in unity
  • Sentence fragments
  • Problems with parallelism
  • Punctuation mistakes
  • Misused words
In summary, if college students develop effective thesis statements and put time and effort into composing their papers, they will greatly improve the chances of those papers earning the highest possible grades, and as every student knows, higher assignment grades translate into higher GPA’s.

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About John Whitfield Junior   EssayHelpWriter

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Joined APSense since, January 14th, 2019, From Miami, United States.

Created on Jan 15th 2019 03:10. Viewed 426 times.


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