One of the big differences between high school papers and college essays is the need to craft a good argument. Most high school students learn that they’re supposed to write essays that follow a basic structure. This structure begins with an introductory paragraph, is followed by three paragraphs of evidence, and concludes with an essential restatement of the paper’s argument. However, many students put too much emphasis on presenting the evidence before really knowing what they’re arguing.
The entire point of the introductory paragraph is to present an argument that the student will be making, and to general go over the types of evidence the student will be presenting. However, the core of the paper should be summarized in a single statement. This statement can occur anywhere in the introductory paragraph and is known as a thesis statement. Writing a good thesis statement can be incredibly hard, and the statement might even change as the student writers their paper. However, all good thesis statements have common features.
The most common feature of a thesis statement is that it can be debated. It makes a statement that anyone can feel free to agree or disagree with. The argument is also clear enough that someone could go search for evidence that contradicts the thesis statement. If readers are having trouble identifying the thesis, then a student is probably unclear about what their own argument is.
Another common feature of a thesis statement is that it is concise. This is why writing a good thesis is almost an art form. Students might have to write several thesis statements before they settle on a good one. However, that thesis will be comparatively brief while packing a ton of information about the essay and what the core argument is.