Essays are coming in, essays are being handed back, essays, essays, essays.
Whatever the topic may be, a thesis statement is a vital component of academic essays, some classes give 20% of the overall essay mark to a thesis. So we can presume that it is quite important!
A week ago, I happened to follow a friend into a workshop held at the Student Centre, conducted by a ENG110 professor, Professor Scoville, dedicated to thesis writing. Today, I sum up some of the noteworthy things we discussed!
One of the first activities we did was the classic “Two Truths and One Lie”, except we thought about the truths and lies in the content of a thesis statement.
Try to see if you can guess mine:
- A thesis can be an opinion.
- A thesis cannot contain more than one argument.
- A thesis is the elaboration of a topic.
Read along to find the answer at the end of the blog 😛
One of the first things I learned about the thesis is its purpose- to lay the foundation, a groundwork for the reader, but also the writer (to ensure focused writing).
The second thing I learned is that a thesis should take a stand. All thesis’ emerge from a topic. Let’s say the topic (for a really amazing non-existent class) is “stress faced by students.” Perhaps this is something we can all relate to, as we continue to eat to keep our stress-levels down:
Anywho, “stress faced by students” is merely a topic. It has no direction (like a scalar vs. a vector for those who know physics) What about “stress faced by students”? Is it too much? Too low (Haha)? Different in different regions of the world? There are a lot of directions that this topic can go.
Professor Scoville encouraged us to think of the 5 W’s -> Who, What, When, Where, Why, and the one awkward How.
Let’s say we narrow down to, “Stress faced by university students is higher than that faced by working professionals,” it’s just an idea. Although that is not your final thesis, you now have an argument for which you can aim your essay towards. A key part of your thesis, as we discussed in the workshop, is the methodology. You need not rewrite your exact arguments, but it can be worthwhile to have a general idea about how you plan on achieving your argument. I can brainstorm several reasons as to why my argument should hold true… and Voila!
“Due to the added factors of rigorous competition, of ever-expanding curriculum, and of online submissions, stress faced by university students is higher than that faced by working professionals”
Though the wording can be slightly altered, this thesis offers not only the argument, but the aspects that will be explored in your essay, which will later conclude your argument. Also, notice the use of parallel structure within the complex sentence, the repetition of “of”- Due to the added factors of rigorous competition, of ever-expanding curriculum, and of online submissions- comprehensive English as such, can make it very easy for the professor to understand your implications!
Also, here are a few other misconceptions Professor Scoville brought up, about a thesis statement, these don’t always have to hold:
- A thesis is always in the introduction- it can be in the conclusion too!
- The thesis must remain the same as the essay develops- it can change as you discover/realize new things as you write your essay. A thesis is not a contract, it is a starting point!
- A thesis cannot be more than one sentence- it does not have to be, but try to be concise nonetheless
- A thesis cannot contain more than one argument- this was mine! A thesis can carry multiple standpoints as long as they don’t contradict each other in a major way
Hope these points, taken from the workshop were of help, and let’s try to get those 20% of our essays down!