by Mackenzie Bonvenuto
As the semester is coming to a close, I have noticed one common theme between all of the consultations I have done with students for finals week: the thesis. When it comes to finals, it seems like every student starts freaking out about this one specific part of the paper. Believe me, I’ve been there! You come to the end of the introduction, with all of these ideas in your head, wondering how to form them into one or two concise sentences. It seems like it is almost impossible to get everything you want to say into such a small amount of words. As I’ve seen a lot of students struggle to form a thesis, I’ve thought about a couple of ways to make coming up with a thesis a little bit easier.
In my experience, I am usually not able to come up with a decent thesis on the first try, or even the first few tries. It can definitely become frustrating not being able to find the right words to express your ideas. What I have found to be most helpful as I am working with students in the Writing Center is asking them to just casually tell me what they would want to include in their thesis. I ask them to try not to think about any of the formalities at this point, and to just talk to me about the most important parts of their paper. By just simply discussing your ideas for a thesis aloud with someone really gets you thinking about what information needs to be included, and what information can be saved for the body of the paper. I would definitely recommend talking about your ideas out loud with someone, see if it helps you form a thesis!
Another way to make coming up with a thesis a bit easier is to think of it like a roadmap. A roadmap gets you to where you need to go, just like a thesis gets you to the most important and key information that is in your paper. There are many different ways to map out your main ideas. The most visual way to map out your ideas is by making a concept map. To make a concept map, start by including the main goal of your paper in the middle of the page. What is the main takeaway you want people to have when they are reading your paper? After that, draw some arrows stemming out from your main goal. This is where you will include information that can help prove your main goal.
Visually seeing your ideas on paper can help you sort them out before you turn them into an actual sentence or two for a thesis statement. Give this a try if you are really struggling to form a thesis statement! Creating a thesis does not have to be the end of the world. Just remember, as you are writing, you can always edit your thesis to fit the main ideas that you have included in your body paragraphs. Make your thesis work for you!