An essay consists of three components, the introduction or thesis statement, the main ideas to support the thesis statement, and three or more supporting ideas for each main idea.
Choose an Interesting Thesis Topic
When it comes to selecting the perfect thesis topic for a college essay, students should consider their points of view and areas of interest. Any essaywriter who has ever tried to write about something they had no interest in, or knowledge about, knows how difficult it can be to establish a point of view.
Students also should choose a problem that is both manageable, as well as arguable. Too broad of a topic and the student will find it overwhelming. Too narrow and they may find insufficient information to make their point.
When selecting a thesis for a college essay or research paper, students should develop an argument that they not only can defend, but that gives their writing direction, focus, and hopefully some originality. So having a previous interest in the topic or a pre-established point of view can go a long way in helping them to develop their argument.
To jumpstart the creative thinking process, here are some samples of possible thesis topics for a college essay or research paper:
- Similarities between today’s society and those of George Orwell’s novel, 1984
- The development of the Internet and the decline of American society
- The benefit of experiential learning in adult education
- Negative (or positive) impact of affirmative action on educational institutions
- The conflict between freedom of the press, censorship, and the First Amendment
- Is the right to bear arms a constitutionally guaranteed right?
- Are animal rights as important as human rights?
- The effectiveness of civic engagement in influencing global public policy
- A decline in business ethics and social responsibility
Students should remember to focus on what they know. Creating a list of potential topic areas can help provide that focus.
Start with a Great Thesis Statement
Once students have chosen their thesis topic, the next step is to develop their thesis statement. This is why it is so important to select a great thesis topic because it needs to be something that motivates the student to write. Developing the all-important thesis statement can make or break the entire college essay or research paper.
The thesis statement is generally a single sentence in the college essay or research paper that asserts controls and establishes the structure of the student’s entire argument. That means it should be a strong, persuasive, and thoughtful thesis statement.
First, a good thesis statement will establish a claim. This is not about selecting sides or simply making an observation. Rather it is about supporting and defending a perspective.
However, keep in mind that it must be an arguable position.
Next, a good thesis statement controls the argument. Everything that the student writes after establishing their viewpoint should support their thesis. If it doesn’t, then eliminate it. The thesis statement is the student’s commitment to stay on topic.
Finally, a good thesis statement provides the structure. It tells the reader what the argument is and either directly or indirectly says how the information will be presented.
Selecting the perfect thesis topic for a college essay or research paper is about selecting a topic of interest to the student as well as readers, a thesis topic that is arguable and manageable, and a thesis topic that provides direction, focus, and originality.
Step One of Writing an Essay: The Introduction or Thesis Statement
The hardest part of writing a paper is thinking up a subject to write about. A subject should be general enough so that it can be broken into parts, yet specific enough to hold interest. Outlining serves as a pre-test to make sure you have enough to write about. If you have trouble thinking up three main ideas and supporting ideas, then the thesis statement is too narrow.
Let’s take a sample thesis statement, The Negative Effects of Alcohol Abuse Among Teenagers. Throughout this article, we will follow this example to practice developing an essay.
The first step is to write an introductory paragraph telling what the essay will be about.
Step Two of Writing an Essay: Three Main Ideas to Support Thesis Statement
Now, think of three main ideas to go under the thesis statement and label them one, two, and three. Using the sample thesis statement The Negative Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Among Teenagers, some possibilities may be:
- how teen drinking affects academic studies
- how teenage drinking leads to social and emotional problems
- how teen drinking leads to risky driving behavior and fatal car accidents
Step Three of Writing an Essay: Three or More Supporting Ideas
Now, narrow it down even further by adding three or more supporting ideas for each main idea. This is where many people run into trouble. Again, if you have problems thinking up three supporting ideas, the thesis statement is not broad enough.
Following the example, The Negative Effects of Alcohol Abuse Among Teenagers, below are supporting ideas broken down into three categories.
How teen drinking affects academic studies:
- statistics about the effect of teenage drinking on brain activity
- effect of teenage drinking and grades
- the link between teen drinking and dropout rate
How underage drinking causes social and emotional problems:
- how teen drinking leads to alcohol dependence
- increased incidences of promiscuity
- teen drinkers and suicide statistics
How underage drinking leads to increase in car accidents and fatalities:
- how drunk driving impairs decision-making ability in teens
- drunk driving statistics for teens
- underage drinking and car accidents resulting in death
Now, write a paragraph or more about each main idea and each supporting idea. More supporting ideas can be added for length.
Tie it all up with a summary paragraph that goes over all of the main points. For example, a summary of the sample essay may read: Alcohol abuse had a negative impact on teens by affecting academic studies, leading to social and emotional problems, and increasing the likelihood of risky driving behavior and fatal car accidents. Be sure to cite sources used in research to back up statements.
Now pick a topic and try writing an original essay. Using this outline and method helps ensure that the topic is broad enough that the writer does not run out of material before the end.