Every semester, I see students struggle to produce papers, and nine times out of ten, their struggles could be avoided with an effective thesis statement. In fact, I've been wanting to blog about this for a long time because it is such a huge problem for college students, especially freshmen. It took most of my college experience to get in the habit of writing a solid thesis statements, but once I figured it out, I never went back.
Your thesis statement = the foundation of your paper.
So what is a thesis statement exactly? It is the central point of your paper, your paper's purpose defined, and your point of view on a subject. A thesis statement is a one sentence explanation of why you are writing the paper, without explicitly saying, "Here is the reason is why I am writing this paper."
Once you nail down a thesis, your entire paper revolves around it. Literally every single sentence in the rest of your paper should support your thesis. A solid thesis will have clear direction and will be specific enough to stand alone, but broad enough to allow for expansion within the rest of your paper.
What a thesis is not:
Your thesis should argue a point or state a claim.
Traditionally, your thesis is the last sentence of your introduction.
If you choose not to place your thesis in your last sentence, your introduction paragraph should wholly support your paper's purpose or help you claim a position.
Review and rewrite your thesis after you finish your paper.
If you have to rewrite your thesis, make sure you alter any places in your essay that supported your original thesis to support your new one. It is okay to change your thesis after doing research-- you might prove yourself wrong and that's okay!
Good thesis examples*:
"Actors or actresses using their acceptance speeches to voice their political opinions should not be protected under freedom of speech."
-In this thesis statement, the claim is "should not be protected," so the entire paper will show why the opinions shouldn't be protected.
"Being an effective member of a discourse community will cultivate an ability to have a strong influence in the decisions that community makes."
-In this thesis statement, the claim is that "effective members can have a strong influence on decisions," so the paper following this statement should define what an effective member is, and give examples of how these effective members have influenced or will influence decision making.