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Step Two: In your conclusion paragraph, try one or more of the following techniques:
Technique #1: Explore the consequences.
Address the negative consequences by asking: What happens if we don’t learn the lesson of the thesis? What has been (or what will be) the negative impact?
Address the positive consequences by asking: What can we do learn from the thesis, and what positive benefit will be gained if we do employ it?
Technique #2: Raise a counter-argument, then debunk it.
Bring up a point someone might make against your college essay. Then say why that person is wrong.
Tip #1: Make sure you’re using a counter-argument that you can debunk!
Tip #2: Be careful not to contradict or disprove your original thesis.
Technique #3: Provide a Call to Action.
Ask: What must we do as a result of this thesis/lesson?
Technique #4: Raise an Unexpected Value
Ask: What else may we learn or gain a result of this thesis/lesson?
Tip: this one works well within a "Not only... but also..." construct.
Sounding kinda’ vague? Keep reading.
Remember the key is to:
Clarify the thesis.
Answer “So what?”
Here's an example thesis and some possible directions for the conclusion:
Thesis: Children should be taught the value of other cultures and religions from a very young age.
Negative Consequences: What might happen if children aren’t taught the value of other cultures and religions?
Positive Consequences: What might happen if they are?
Counter-argument—debunked: What might someone argue as a barrier/potential downside to teaching children about the importance of other cultures’ values and religions? (Example counter-arguments: Children might lose sight of their own values/religions (or) they may be uncomfortable at first… both are easy to debunk.)
Call to Action: If we believe children should be taught about other cultures and religions from a young age, what must we do? Either individually or as a society?
Unexpected Value: What else might we (as Americans, as humans) gain from this?
For an example of how a really awesome writer did this in Time magazine, read Jeffrey Sachs’s one-page article Class System of Catastrophe.
Take note of the:
Call to Action
Check out my annotated version of this article here.
To re-cap: first clarify your thesis. Then ask:
- What are the positive/negative consequences of this?
- What's a counter-argument I can debunk?
- What's a call to action--what must we do as a result?
- What's an unexpected value--something else we'll gain if we learn or employ the lesson of the thesis?
Got it? Email me with questions.
Although we are no longer accepting new essays on our website, we thought we would share these essay writing suggestions in case you wished to write an essay for your own benefit. Writing your own statement of personal belief can be a powerful tool for self-reflection. It can also be a wonderful thing to share with family, friends, and colleagues. To guide you through this process, we offer these suggestions:
Tell a story about you: Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events that have shaped your core values. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.
Be brief: Your statement should be between 500 and 600 words. That’s about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace.
Name your belief: If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief.
Be positive: Write about what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid statements of religious dogma, preaching, or editorializing.
Be personal: Make your essay about you; speak in the first person. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Tell a story from your own life; this is not an opinion piece about social ideals. Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.
For this project, we are also guided by the original This I Believe series and the producers’ invitation to those who wrote essays in the 1950s. Their advice holds up well. Please consider it carefully in writing your piece.
In introducing the original series, host Edward R. Murrow said, “Never has the need for personal philosophies of this kind been so urgent.” We would argue that the need is as great now as it was 65 years ago.