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High School Proposal Essay

How to Write a Paper Topic Proposal & Thesis Statement

•    PART 1 OF THE ASSIGNMENT: PAPER TOPIC PROPOSAL
The formal research paper or honors thesis will provide you with an opportunity to more fully develop the background and implications of one of the topics presented during the semester or explore a related topic not covered. Your paper topic proposal requires research in order to make your proposal as close to your paper topic as possible. I strongly suggest you come to office hours to discuss your topic proposal with me, because I will review all proposals for viability and reject any inappropriate or undoable topics.
The written proposal must include the following 2 things:
1.    Your proposed paper topic: This part of the proposal is one sentence. Keep your paper topic narrow (but not so narrow that there are no scholarly sources available on the topic).
2.    Why the topic is interesting and important: Address how you will focus the topic. If you choose a topic that is not of interest to you, it will show in your paper. This topic must remain of interest to you for two semesters, so give it some serious consideration. As we cover topics in class, undoubtedly something will come up that you want to learn more about. This would be an ideal paper topic. This part of the assignment requires that you include two to three paragraphs about why this topic is interesting and important. Why should the reader care about Roger Williams’s relationship with the Narragansett Indians? If you simply retell the story of his exile from Massachusetts and what he thought of the Narragansett religious beliefs and practices, that’s a book report, not an honors level research paper. However, if you explore the significance Narragansett religion had on Williams, his writings, and his life, you have the makings of an interesting and important research paper. It would require research pertaining to the role of missionaries in the American colonies, research of the Puritan philosophy and why Williams was banned from Massachusetts Bay Colony, and research of Narragansett beliefs and religious views and how they were impacted by the English and Dutch.

What should your paper topic be?  Select a course-related topic. I suggest you write about an area that most interests you and in which you might already have some background knowledge. What do you want to learn more about? What are you interested in? Avoid choosing a topic that bores you. Sustained interest in your topic is important, as a topic that bores you makes for a boring paper. It is unlikely you will be able to fool the reader into believing you liked a topic that you didn’t actually like.

Now, narrow down your topic:  Once you’ve chosen a topic, ask yourself if it’s narrow enough for you to tackle in the paper or honors thesis you will be writing. Narrow topics generally result in the best papers. One important consideration is the availability of material. Therefore, before making a final decision on your topic, do some initial research to find out the type, quality, and quantity of information available. Finally, how much time do you have to write your paper? The earlier you begin your paper, the more thorough the treatment your topic will receive. If you can’t begin your paper early in the semester, consider limiting your topic so you can deal with it adequately.

•    PART 2 OF THE ASSIGNMENT: THESIS STATEMENT
What is a thesis statement?  A thesis statement is “a proposition stated as a conclusion which you will then demonstrate or ‘prove’ in your paper.”  It is the focal point around which your research will revolve. It is usually stated in the form of an assertion or statement you resolve through your research. It’s not a question; it’s an answer, such as:
“Key decisions in large U.S. cities are made by a handful of individuals, drawn largely from business, industrial, and municipal circles, who occupy the top of the power hierarchy.”
“Cigarette smoking harms the body by constricting the blood vessels, accelerating the heartbeat, paralyzing the cilia in the bronchial tubes, and activating excessive gastric secretions in the stomach.”
A thesis takes a position on an issue. Because you must take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement in your research paper. It is different from a topic sentence in that a thesis statement is not neutral. It announces, in addition to the topic, the argument you want to make or the point you want to prove. This is your own opinion that you intend to back up. This is your reason and motivation for writing. A thesis statement:
i)    tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
ii)    is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
iii)    directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
iv)    makes a claim that others might dispute.
v)    is usually a single sentence somewhere in your first paragraph that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation. After you have done some preliminary research and reading on your narrowed-down topic, you should formulate a single-sentence thesis statement.

Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion – convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is the purpose of the thesis statement?  The thesis statement guides you, enabling you to focus your research paper and outline what you will write. It allows you to clarify your thinking and determine what is relevant and irrelevant as you do your research. Your research paper must be thesis-driven. A high school level “report” will not receive a passing grade. The thesis must pull together the analysis that follows. Your thesis statement must be specific – it should cover only what you will discuss in your research paper and must be supported with specific evidence. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper. Early in your paper I should be able to locate the thesis statement. If I ask you “Where is the thesis statement?” you should be able to point to it immediately.

How do you come up with a thesis statement?  A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process and careful deliberation after preliminary research. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading a writing assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis,” a basic main idea, an argument that you think you can support with evidence but that may need adjustment along the way. Your topic may change somewhat as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

Thesis Statement Samples:
1)    The non-thesis thesis: You must take a stand or you’ll end up with a “non-thesis thesis.”
a)    Bad Thesis 1: In his article, Stanley Fish shows that we don’t really have the right to free speech.
b)    Bad Thesis 2: This paper will consider the advantages and disadvantages of certain restrictions on free speech.
c)    Better Thesis 1: Stanley Fish’s argument that free speech exists more as a political prize than as a legal reality ignores the fact that even as a political prize it still serves the social end of creating a general cultural atmosphere of tolerance that may ultimately promote free speech in our nation just as effectively as any binding law.
d)    Better Thesis 2: Even though there may be considerable advantages to restricting hate speech, the possibility of chilling open dialogue on crucial racial issues is too great and too high a price to pay.
2)    The overly broad thesis: A thesis should be as specific as possible, and it should be tailored to reflect the scope of the paper. It is not possible, for instance, to write about the history of English literature in a five-page paper. In addition to choosing simply a smaller topic, strategies to narrow a thesis include specifying a method or perspective or delineating certain limits.
a)    Bad Thesis 1: There should be no restrictions on the First Amendment.
b)    Bad Thesis 2: The government has the right to limit free speech.
c)    Better Thesis 1: There should be no restrictions on the First Amendment if those restrictions are intended merely to protect individuals from unspecified or otherwise unquantifiable or unverifiable “emotional distress.”
d)    Better Thesis 2: The government has the right to limit free speech in cases of overtly racist or sexist language because our failure to address such abuses would effectively suggest that our society condones such ignorant and hateful views.
3)    The incontestable thesis: A thesis must be arguable. And in order for it to be arguable, it must present a view that someone might reasonably contest. Sometimes a thesis ultimately says, “people should be good,” or “bad things are bad.” Such thesis statements are redundant or so universally accepted that there is no need to prove the point.
a)    Bad Thesis 1: Although we have the right to say what we want, we should avoid hurting other people’s feelings.
b)    Bad Thesis 2: There are always alternatives to using racist speech.
c)    Better Thesis 1: If we can accept that emotional injuries can be just as painful as physical ones we should limit speech that may hurt people’s feelings in ways similar to the way we limit speech that may lead directly to bodily harm.
d)    Better Thesis 2: The “fighting words” exception to free speech is not legitimate because it wrongly considers speech as an action.
4)    The “list essay” thesis: A good argumentative thesis provides not only a position on an issue but also suggests the structure of the paper. The thesis should allow the reader to imagine and anticipate the flow of the paper, in which a sequence of points logically proves the essay’s main assertion. A list essay provides no such structure, so that different points and paragraphs appear arbitrary with no logical connection to one another.
a)    Bad Thesis 1: There are many reasons we need to limit hate speech.
b)    Bad Thesis 2: Some of the arguments in favor of regulating pornography are persuasive.
c)    Better Thesis 1: Among the many reasons we need to limit hate speech the most compelling ones all refer to our history of discrimination and prejudice, and it is, ultimately, for the purpose of trying to repair our troubled racial society that we need hate speech legislation.
d)    Better Thesis 2: Some of the arguments in favor of regulating pornography are persuasive because they ask pornography proponents to ask themselves whether such a profession would be on a list of professions they would desire for their daughters or mothers.
5)    The research paper thesis: In another course this would be acceptable, and, in fact, possibly even desirable. But in this kind of course, a thesis statement that makes a factual claim that can be verified only with scientific, sociological, psychological, or other kind of experimental evidence is not appropriate. You need to construct a thesis that you are prepared to prove using the tools you have available, without having to consult the world’s leading expert on the issue to provide you with a definitive judgment.
a)    Bad Thesis 1: Americans today are not prepared to give up on the concept of free speech.
b)    Bad Thesis 2: Hate speech can cause emotional pain and suffering in victims just as intense as physical battery.
c)    Better Thesis 1: Whether or not the cultural concept of free speech bears any relation to the reality of 1st amendment legislation and jurisprudence, its continuing social function as a promoter of tolerance and intellectual exchange trumps the call for politicization (according to Fish’s agenda) of the term.
d)    Better Thesis 2: The various arguments against the regulation of hate speech depend on the unspoken and unexamined assumption that emotional pain is trivial.

How do I know if my thesis is strong?  If there’s time, run it by a professor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback (http://www.umass.edu/writingcenter/index.html). Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft of your working thesis, ask yourself the following:
1)    Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question.
2)    Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
3)    Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
4)    Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is, “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
5)    Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
6)    Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Jane M. Smith
Honors ____
[Date] Paper Topic Proposal and Thesis Statement
Proposed paper topic: [One sentence.] Why the topic is interesting and important: [Two to three paragraphs.] See details above on what is required of this section.
Thesis statement: [One sentence.]

The purpose of the proposal essay is to propose an idea and provide evidence or arguments to convince readers why that idea is good or bad. Consider yourself as a salesperson; your goal is to convince the customer why to buy a car, jewelry, or some product. In this case, the product is your idea and customer is the professor. If you have never worked on a proposal essay before, you might feel insecure thinking there’s no way to pull it off. Not so fast! With a few ideas and simple strategy tips, you can complete this assignment successfully. Also, you can find college essay ideas on our site!So, let’s start!

Your proposal essay should contain

In order to create a high-quality proposal essay every time, you just have to follow the simple outline that revolves around:

  • Introduction – provides background information, important details the reader should know before you move on to the other parts. The introduction has to catch the reader’s attention, make him/her want to read the paper. Let’s not forget the last sentence of the introduction accounts for a thesis statement
  • Proposal – a statement of purpose. Generally, this is a brief section that informs the reader about your actual proposal i.e. the idea you want them to adopt. Make sure this section does not contain details about how you plan to carry the proposal 
  • Plan of action – here, your job is to explain how you plan to achieve the proposal. What will you do to show your reader why your proposal is valid? Basically, this is the section where you have to convince the reader to agree with your ideas. For every plan of action or evidence, use a separate paragraph 
  • Conclusion – summarize key points in a conclusion and include call-to-action, if applicable. Make sure you don’t include new information into conclusion because you would have to elaborate it thoroughly, and there’s no room for that in a paragraph-length section

Tips for proposal essay

  • Carry out a thorough research in order to find as many details as possible 
  • Support all your claims i.e. ideas with evidence
  • Use only relevant sources, avoid blog posts and websites that aren’t credible 
  • Cite all the sources you use to avoid plagiarism 
  • Demonstrate your vocabulary skills and avoid overusing some words 
  • Avoid slang and informal speech 
  • Instead of including a bunch of ideas that are poorly discussed, stick to 3-5 ideas that you will develop thoroughly 

But, what happens when a professor allows you to choose the title for proposal essay? What to do then? 
Not to worry, you’ll find some amazing ideas below. 

Proposal essay ideas

  • Bread and circus culture versus traditional family values
  • Can antidepressant use enhance suicidal behaviors? Should it be limited or banned?
  • Different things parents can do to ensure their child treats others with respect
  • Does espionage law violate free speech? Should it be banned or improved?
  • How can be kids persuaded not to experiment with drugs?
  • How can educational television shows about science receive more funding and air time?
  • How can kids with divorced parents be counseled to do well in school, build successful lives and marriages and have strong relationships?
  • How can parents and teachers effectively help eliminate cyber-bullying?
  • How can parents encourage their children to do more extracurricular activities?
  • How can parents help children avoid or deal with bullying in school?
  • How can parents make sure their children adopt healthy life values? 
  • How can parents protect their children from peer pressure?
  • How can parents raise their children to have a sense of humility as opposed to entitlement?
  • How can parents, teachers, and society at large encourage more children to pursue an education in science?
  • How can people reduce their dependence on technology?
  • How can teachers improve sex education courses?
  • How can teachers spot signs of bullying in their classes
  • How can the country ensure adequate healthcare coverage for all its citizens without the exceptions?
  • How can the government better handle illegal immigration?
  • How can the government make programs such as welfare, Medicaid, and Social Security more effective?
  • How can the government or society as a whole reduce homelessness in the United States?
  • How can the government reduce the rates of discriminatory behavior toward ethnic minorities? 
  • How can we promote more tolerant behavior within US society?
  • How should children be taught about responsible Internet use?
  • How should students be graded?
  • How to protect yourself and your identity from online theft 
  • How to reduce the rates of smoking among adolescents? 
  • How to support local businesses and prevent them from being destroyed by huge chains 
  • In what ways can companies and consumers keep sensitive information more secure online?
  • In what ways can we reduce childhood obesity?
  • In what ways can foreign language courses be improved?
  • Lack of tolerance leads to erratic, racist, and fascistic behavior. Different measures to put a stop to those actions 
  • Measures to take in order to provide better conditions for US veterans 
  • Risky behaviors are celebrated while morality is considered outdated and unacceptable. How to change things around? 
  • Should all prisoners have voting rights or only individual on probation and those who have already served their sentences?
  • Should animal exploitation by dairy and meat industries be banned? Is veganism only way to protect animal rights?
  • Should college athletes be paid? How can colleges better handle the combination of education, athletes, and business?
  • Should dog bite laws be more specific? For example, should pit bulls be banned, or more attention should be paid to the education of dog owners instead?
  • Should people buy so many things using credit? What can be done to handle the culture of debt?
  • Should the customer have the right to report mistreatment of companies lying to consumers?
  • So many experts, so much bad behavior among children these days. Measures to take in order to turn things around
  • The best way to teach children responsibility 
  • The current student grading system is flawed, but it can be fixed with these methods
  • The most successful inventors were known as wrong-thinkers at schools. Later they were acknowledged as risk-taking pioneers. So should a teacher give students the chance of failing and learn by making mistakes?
  • The risks of birth defects are significantly higher in test-tube babies. Should couples adopt children instead of having in-vitro fertilization?
  • To change the world you have to change yourself. What can you do to help the environment?
  • What are the measures to reduce alcohol use among adolescents? 
  • What are the solutions to the erosion of trust contribution to the decline of the American business sector?
  • What can be done about the decline of morality in media? 
  • What can be done for obsolete lifestyles?
  • What can be done to create a more well-rounded curriculum for middle and high school students?
  • What can be done to improve student’s reading comprehension instead calling words aloud without understanding them?
  • What can be done to prevent other countries and parties from interfering in the US elections? 
  • What can be done to solve the giant problem of unemployment?
  • What can the average person do to combat global climate change? What can the government do?
  • What can we do to reduce the risk of teen pregnancies?
  • What could be done to make the electoral system more effective?
  • What improvements have to be made regarding sex education courses to decrease the rate of teen pregnancies? 
  • What initiatives should be implemented to project small businesses from economic problems?
  • What is the best way to impose and improve parental involvement in children’s education?
  • What is the best way to prevent deaths from drunk driving?
  • What is the most effective way for parents to teach their children about money?
  • What is the most effective way to discipline a child?
  • What measures to introduce in order to avoid the next economic crisis? 
  • What should be done to increase the funding for cancer research?
  • What should be done to lower the national debt?
  • What steps should be taken from restraining qualified teachers from leaving teaching profession?
  • What teachers can do to establish a balance between engaging students and letting them overtake their authority and influence among students
  • What would be an effective program to curb illegal drug use?
  • While vegans require others to respect their choices, why can’t they respect someone else’s? The strategies to help solve this issue
  • Why are foreign languages in school important for our education?

Bottom line

When writing the proposal essay, your goal is to propose a few ideas regarding a certain topic, elaborate them and convince readers to accept them. Picture yourself as a salesperson who has to convince the customer to make a purchase. Use title ideas above to practice. Also, you can read about connecting ideas in an essay! And never forget to use essay checker!
 

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