Undergraduate College Essay Assignment
A college essay is a relatively brief text composed to express a college student's interpretation or analysis of a single topic. A college essay is one of the most prominent undergraduate assignments, and will be required for most classes a student takes. Though most students have some experience writing essays before they attend college, they will find that the expectations for college essays are significantly higher than the expectations for high school essays. High school essays rarely push beyond the material covered in class to present the student's original interpretations; college essays are expected to go deeper than class content and develop the student's individual ideas on the topic at hand.
Achieving the depth and insight required for a college essay takes time and planning. Because a college essay does not (and should not) merely report on what has already been discussed in class, it is likely that developing the thesis of the report will take considerable reflective thought. The thesis of a report is the article's main point. It is, in essence, what the entire essay is about. All college reports should clearly express a document in the first 1/4 of the text. To determine a good thesis, learners should brainstorm to come up with several topics of interest related to the assignment. Once they have determined a few ideas they may wish to write on, learners should try to come up with an interesting and relevant point or argument about those ideas to see if they can generate a thesis. For instance, for a college essay assignment on ancient philosophy, a student may decide he or she is interested in what ancient philosophers said about the practice of slavery. This is a topic. To determine an argument, the student must take a particular and very specific stance on the topic. Such a thesis might be as follows: "The writings of Aristotle on the topic of slavery reveal the philosopher's complex attitude towards slavery. He was writing in a slave-holding society that did not consider slavery unjust, and on the surface he does not seem to protest against the holding of slaves; however, a closer examination of his texts reveals that Aristotle did not consider any human being deserving of being a slave."
Once a thesis has been determined, a student must develop the report by carefully considering the points he or she will make to support the thesis. These points should provoke thought in the reader by challenging common interpretations. In other words, a college report should not merely point out the most obvious points about a thesis topic, but should go beyond the obvious to include nuances that may not be commonly considered. All of these points should be supported with evidence and examples in such a way that no assertion is made without proper defense.
The conclusions of college reports should not be merely summaries. Rather, they should seek to point to a new insight or idea that has been gained through the process of exploring the topic.
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