In the typical college essay, the core element is the statement, often one sentence but occasionally more, in which the writer expresses its thesis, the point or claim that the rest of the essay seeks to “prove.” For example, in a baseball essay, a writer could claim that “in 2014 the Philadelphia Phillies will win the World Series.” The claim is but an opinion. It could come true; it might not. Further, it’s a belief on which opposing sides can be taken. Some will agree with it, some won’t. Someone who disbelieves it will happen believes this claim: “In 2014 the Philadelphia Phillies will not win the World Series.”
Returning to the writer of the claim who believes in it, the purpose of the bulk of his essay will be to try to convince readers that his claim has a good chance of becoming true. He could even start that process in his claim by adding reasons to it, which create an expanded thesis: “In 2014, the Philadelphia Phillies will win the World Series because ____, ____, and ____.” Filling in the blanks, it could read this way: “In 2014, the Philadelphia Phillies will win the World Series because of the team’s hitting, pitching, and fielding.” That claim creates expectation in readers: They will expect the essay to provide information about the team’s hitting, pitching, and fielding that will support its thesis.
Those reasons can also result in the essay’s topic sentences. A topic sentence is a mini-thesis, a claim that instead of applying to the whole paper applies to a portion of it: one paragraph. A possible topic sentence for the expanded thesis’ first reason is “The Phillies are the best hitting team in the National League.” The paragraph that claim begins then needs to provide evidence for its topic sentence, support that will justify the claim. The writer needs to realize that there will be readers who are skeptical, who believe instead that “The Phillies are not the best hitting team in the National League.” Even if the writer isn’t able to convince those skeptics of his claim, he should seek to get them to consider that even if unlikely, it could be possible.