Alright, I’m about to say something that may trigger a lot of unpleasant flashbacks for many of the current and former college students reading this. This next sentence is not for the faint of heart, so please, if you have not prepared for the absolute worst, stop reading at this instant and run far away.
“It’s time to write a thesis!”
Horrific, isn’t it?
For many students, skydiving directly into the Atlantic Ocean sounds more enjoyable than forming a thesis statement for an introductory college English course. It seems like every professor on the planet will not stop harping about the importance of a thesis. “Have you written a thesis yet?” “Where’s your thesis?” “Your thesis is looking a little weak here.” “Make sure your thesis makes a very clear assertion.” “You may need to rewrite your thesis for this assignment.” All of this culminates into the student turning into a stick of dynamite and exploding into a million pieces out of frustration and confusion.
Writing a thesis is difficult, and it is certainly the most important aspect of every essay (which I’m sure you’ve heard countless times from teachers over the years). This can result in a very stressful writing process, as the perfectly crafted thesis needed to ace an assignment is nearly impossible to pull together. However, with enough practice over time, writing theses can become easier and not be nearly as daunting as perhaps they once were.
By the time you are ready to write a thesis, you should have a good understanding of what your topic is and what sources you plan on using that relate to your topic. However, it’s possible to write about a topic without having a thesis in your paper, so it’s crucial to understand the angle at which you want to take regarding your topic. You’re not just gathering random facts about the topic you’ve chosen; you’re taking a specific stance relating to the topic and that is the exact purpose every thesis should serve. The thesis should answer the question of “Why does this matter?” and “What’s the point of this paper?”. If you find that your paper doesn’t clearly communicate to the reader why you have written about your topic, your thesis should be examined.
For example, say you have chosen the topic of gardening and the environment. This is a fairly broad topic, meaning there are probably an infinite number of directions you could take your paper while discussing gardening and the environment. But, before you write a single word, ask yourself: why are people going to be interested in what I have to say about gardening and the environment? What stance or angle am I going to take that will draw people in? Consider this thesis relating to gardens and the environment:
“Gardening is helpful to nature, and brings mankind closer to it, but it can be a threat to the environment’s delicate ecosystem.”
This thesis provides a specific purpose for the paper that will follow it. Branching off of this thesis will not simply result in a collection of random facts about the environment and gardening; rather, there will be an explicit argument made regarding the potential damage gardening can bring to the environment. At the end of the day, this is the main difference between a topic and a thesis. A topic gives direction; a thesis gives purpose.
Don’t be discouraged. Writing is not easy, and writing a thesis is the most difficult aspect of an already laborious process. However, as long as you consider purpose and that “Why?” question, you will find yourself writing some beautifully crafted theses that will make your professors say, “Wow, this is like a beautifully crafted thesis.”