You have made it to college! Remember all those times that your high school teachers would say “You need to know this for college”? Push those out the window. There are too many misconceptions about college writing. Some teachers say it is extremely difficult (its not), some say it is impossible to get an “A”(its not), and others have ridiculous notions that every paper you write will be 20 pages(longest paper I have written so far? 5 Pages). So in an effort to help your transition to college, and college writing, I am going to clear one up for you. The dreaded thesis statement.

In high school, my teachers would spend weeks talking about how to form a thesis statement. Every year it would change. One year they would say to place it at the beginning, the next at the end of the introduction. One year they would say every thesis follows the “In the document _____ by ____, the author asserts that_____” format. The next year it would have no specific format. When it comes to college writing it all becomes uniform. There is no other place to put a thesis, one place only(end of your introduction). There is no set format (say your thesis however you want). As a student who has gone through the college writing process, the best advice I can give you is to answer these questions when you begin writing your thesis.

1. Does my thesis answer the question of the assignment?

2. Does my thesis cover all of my topics?

3. Is my thesis clear?

Every assignment asks you to answer a question. Whether it be, what is your opinion, or to define a certain topic. Your thesis needs to answer the question. There is no deviation there. In order for you to stay on topic throughout your paper, answer the question right away in your thesis.

In a typical essay you have three different sub-topics to address in regards to your original topic. So after you have conducted all of your research and selected your three sub-topics, find a way to incorporate those into your thesis. If you were writing a paper about an author and example would be something along the lines of; “The author _____ address, (insert topic 1), (insert topic 2), and (insert topic 3), throughout their essays.” This format, or something along those lines, gives your reader a clear map to follow and will also let them know what exactly they will be reading about, and what order they will read about these topics. You want your reader to be hooked after they read your introduction because that is what keeps them interested.

When you are writing your thesis do not fill it with unnecessary details (that’s what your body paragraphs are for). Give your reader the sub-topics you will be addressing in your thesis statements so it becomes clear for the reader what exactly they are reading. Do not go to in depth within your thesis, and try to condense your sub-topics into as few words as possible. Your thesis is not another paragraph. It is one sentence that tells your reader what they will be reading about, what you will be addressing, and in certain cases, what your opinion is. As readers, we want to know what we are reading and we do not want to be bombarded with to much information right off the bat. If the reader has a clear map of what they will read, it makes them want to keep reading.

I know that this may seem like a lot of information. Take a deep breath. Once you get the hang of writing thesis statements, it will become very easy. On your first attempt with a college paper take your time. Do not get frustrated if you cannot form a thesis right away. You will go through many variations of statements, whether it be wording, or topic order, just keep writing. An old teacher of mine used to say “Don’t Think, Just Write.” You know your topic, you researched it, and you have been with this paper since the day it was assigned. You know it.  Do not think to hard, just start writing. If you close your computer after you finish reading this and walk away, just remember to answer the question, cover your topics, and make it clear. If you do these, it will make writing the rest of paper that much easier.

All writing is chaotic. Embrace the chaos and just write.