College is mainly characterized by the writing of academic papers, key among them being essays. It is therefore important for any student to understand how to write a college essay, and that is what these articles are attempting to do. In the first article in this series, we discussed how to choose a topic and organize your ideas. In this installment, we will start writing the essay, hence we will discuss how to write the introduction and the thesis statement.
What is typical of the best introductions? How do you write a brief yet great thesis statement? These questions will be answered in this article.
Writing the introductory paragraph of your essay can be a daunting task, as it determines whether the reader will stick around to read the body paragraphs. To catch your reader’s attention, the introduction must be interesting and catchy. However, it should have enough meat to keep your readers hooked.
There are different ways to start your essay, and they are explained in this article How to Write a Basic Essay.
Use the tips below when writing your introduction:
… but not too broad. Writing introductions that are too broad is a problem that is seen where you are very knowledgeable about the topic you are working on. You might feel the need to inform the reader everything you know on the topic, and a bit more. However, this might end up confusing or boring the reader.
For example, where you are writing an essay on “Politics in Kenya,” the following introduction might be a bit too broad:
“Kenya is one of the biggest economies in East and Central Africa. As of early 2017, the country had an estimated population of about 45 million people. The people of Kenya are divided into 44 ethnic groups, each of which has different customs and cultures. The country is also divided into 47 counties….”
As much as the information above is true, it is unnecessary to your topic, which is “Politics in Kenya.” Plus, it feels like you are just throwing information around. The alternative that is broad enough is:
“In 1963, Kenya was freed from the clutches of colonialism. This saw the birth of politics in Kenya as we know it today. The first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta was elected in 1963 as the Prime Minister and became president in 1964. Throughout the decades, Kenya’s political scene has….”
In this case, the reader can clearly see where you are headed with the paragraph. The first statement was broad, talking about Kenya’s independence. The second was beginning to get specific, introduce one of the pioneer political figures, and after that, we can see the journey into Kenya’s politics through the sentences.
When learning how to write a college essay, it is important to know that you need to provide relevant background to the topic in the introduction. However, ensure that you don’t begin with your true argument, as the main ideas of your essay are to be found in your body paragraphs.
Therefore, rather than provide evidence, just give the context. Introduce the argument rather than try to prove it.
Using anecdotes is one of the ways in which you can learn how to write a college essay paragraph. However, the trick with anecdotes is that they have to be relevant to the topic provided. A random story about a boy who fell from a roller coaster may be unnecessary in an essay about World War II. On the other hand, a story about Nelson Mandela’s childhood may be helpful when you are leading a story on the Independence of South Africa.
Clichés make you look lazy as if you could not be bothered to come up with a new thought. Even though it might have been successful once, chances are that it will not work for you. So stay away from clichés, try and create your own introduction. An example is starting with a definition.
Ensure that your introduction tells your reader that your essay is worth reading. Try and make it interesting by using startling facts, unique anecdotes, and interesting conversations.
Another important step on how to write a college essay is writing the thesis statement. As long as you have determined the purpose of your essay, writing a thesis statement will not be difficult.
A thesis statement is a sentence that tells the reader what your paper is going to discuss. The arguments and discussions of the paper will all be based on this statement. You can craft your thesis statement using either of the following ways or by combining the different methods:
When writing a thesis statement, ask yourself what you would like the essay to answer for you. The answer to this question will give you your thesis statement.
For example, a question can be asked, “What is the main challenge facing the most education systems?” The answer can be, “Education systems around the world nurture a white-collar-job mentality, and this translates to unemployment.”
Analytical essays analyze, expository ones give an explanation, while argumentative essays present an argument. Your thesis statement should be in line with the type of essay you are writing. The example above, “Education systems around the world nurture a white-collar-job mentality, and this translates to unemployment,” is an expository thesis statement. The essay that will be written from it will explain how education systems cause unemployment.
This is especially the case with an argumentative essay. In your thesis statement, you should be very clear as to what side you are on, avoid ambiguity. This helps makes it more powerful. To give an example, “Obamacare is clearly a better alternative for the poor in the country than the American Health Care Act.”
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