Hello can someone please help me out? I’ve written a well-focused, well-organized essay; but I need help to revise my thesis so it is more focused. Then I need help with my topic sentences— to...

Hello can someone please help me out? I’ve written a well-focused, well-organized essay; but I need help to revise my thesis so it is more focused. Then I need help with my topic sentences— to make them more specifically about differences. And i need help with my conclusion, I am very lost on where to begin thank you.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Traditional and Nontraditional Student

In a traditional sense, we think of a college student as someone between the ages of 18 to 24 years-old. The traditional student starts college right after graduating high school and one of society’s norms expects that individual to seek a post high school education in order to further advance their capabilities. Nontraditional students are considered someone who is beyond the age of 24 years of age or has been out of school for an extended period of time. THESIS STATEMENT-->Traditional and nontraditional students are uniquely different by the causal factors of family, perception, and responsibilities.

Traditional students are high school graduates that attend college immediately after completing high school. They come from a background of family members who have successfully completed college and receive encouragement to also attend college. Rendón (1998) describes a traditional student as a person “whose parents and siblings attended college, who came from middle-and upper-class backgrounds, and who grew up feeling empowered to reach their goals.” (p. 2 ) The empowerment and support that a traditional student receives from their family member is an advantage over a nontraditional student. On the other hand, nontraditional students are described as students who for various reasons chose not to attend college after completing high school. Also, they’re backgrounds consist of family members that don’t pressure or emphasize a need to pursue an education after high school. The emphasis they receive is more focused on obtaining immediate employment, which is essential to lower-class families. In contrast, the emphasis by family members to a nontraditional student results in a different type of pressure which Rendon (1998) adds “the trauma involved in dislocating themselves from their culture” and “talked about the emotional discomfort involved in separation from their family and friends.”

There are other differences between traditional and nontraditional students besides the support or influence given by family members . These are perceptual differences experienced by traditional and nontraditional students in the classroom or institutional environment. Research conducted by Bishop-Clarke & Lynch (1992) found that, “Older students often perceive the traditional students as immature, unmotivated, and unappreciative of the educational environment.” (p.1) This perception by a nontraditional student is based not only the age range of a traditional student (18-24 years old) but also stems from the fact that a younger individual is still in a developmental and maturation stage of their life. Also, due to circumstances, traditional students might be perceived by nontraditional students as being more focused on extracurricular activities such as, sorority and fraternity parties, sporting events or other social events. The traditional student’s perception of a nontraditional student is based on several factors. First a nontraditional student is typically over the age of 24 years old, and considered by the traditional student to be more mature, responsible, experienced and more eager or serious to learn the curriculum. These qualities are based on the fact that they have demanding responsibilities such as supporting their family and providing financial support through a working income. This perception by traditional students, in Bishop-Clarke & Lynch (1992), is clarified as “On the other hand, some of the younger students have remarked that it is unfair that they must compete with someone who is more experienced and who is as grade conscious as older students appear to be.” (p.1)

Several significant differences between both traditional and nontraditional students thus far have focused on the influence of the family and each distinct perceptual difference. Another significant difference is how each student financially supports themselves while attempting to pursue a higher education. On one hand, a traditional student might have fewer worries since they’re not required to work or pay for their education however, perhaps they’re primary concern is more so focused on not disappointing their supporting family versus a nontraditional student who is working their way through college and can’t afford it without working part or full time. In addition, a nontraditional student may have to work in order to financially support their education but also to support their own family especially where children are present. A working income becomes necessary not optional in this case and does not allow the time needed for studying that a traditional student normally has. By not having to work, a traditional student would be able to dedicate more time to their studies or other extracurricular activities needed to furthering their education. Ultimately, each type of student has varying and different levels of responsibility while attending college. This responsibility is solely based on the opportunities and challenges that both types of students face as a result of their social or family environment. Traditional students can be described as having low risk regarding responsibility. This low risk is described statistically in a report by the NCES stating, “In contrast, students with no risk factors (i.e., traditional students) were almost exclusively enrolled in 4-year colleges and universities.” (p.1) In contrast, nontraditional students have higher risk factors influenced by their family commitments. The NCES describes this higher risk as “These included nontraditional enrollment choices such as delaying enrollment or attending part time, and characteristics associated with financial constraints and family responsibilities such as being financially independent, having dependents to support, or working full time while enrolled.”(p.1)

There are probably more factors involved however, this discussion focused on family, perception and responsibilities.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before answering the request, please allow me to make other suggestions which should assist you in your writing. 

  • You need a "hook" or a "motivator" as your opening sentence, not a definition. For example: On college campuses today, one student may mistake another for an instructor because today's students are of all ages. [Then begin with defining traditional and non-traditional]
  • When writing a research paper, objectivity is, of course, expected. Therefore, it is best to employ the 3rd person at all times. So, change any first person pronouns (e.g. "we") to third person. For instance,
  • A research paper is a formal paper, so avoid all contractions (i.e. don't, can't) and write out such things as twenty-four year old student, (not 24 year old)
  • Please note that you wrote "they're" for their 
  • Be sure to use statistics and surveys as documentation. For instance, what is the percentage of non-traditional students as compared to traditional at certain universities? Report thoroughly on studies giving percentages, etc. of what different students major in, how long it takes them, etc. Your paper should show much evidence of your having truly researched the topic. (I think you need many MORE supporting details--this is a research paper, so the emphasis needs to be on your research and what you learned from it. Cite numbers, percentages, groups surveyed, etc. Give details!)
  • Use more transitional words to connect sentences. Vary sentence beginnings. Also, use words that show contrasts such as--unlike, in contrast, on the other hand, while traditional students .....non-traditional ....; traditional students .......; on the other hand, non-traditional students .....


Now, if you will return to this question, the format for your essay is given to you there:


This format is taken from The Practical Writer, a text that is used by many a high school and college instructors. If you will please make the "blueprint" and follow it, you will have an organized essay. The thesis sentence should lay out the blueprint from which the topic sentences are taken. Here is your thesis statement: >Traditional and nontraditional students are uniquely different by the causal factors of family, perception, and responsibilities.

1."casual factors of family" should be more concretely stated. (i.e. What do you mean by "casual factors"?--use a more concrete phrases, okay? Do you mean they are more involved with members of their family? family involvement?)
is also a little vague. Do you mean attitudes towards attaining a college degree? (I would not use the word perception)
3. responsibilities is clear.

These 3 concepts are the blueprint for the body of the essay. You will form a topic sentence for each paragraph using one of these 3 words. Then you provide supporting details: facts, statistics, examples.  And, this will be your essay. Follow the body with a conclusion.

--You may want to lay out your research and place it in three "stacks" or folders where you know what goes with each topic sentence
--After you write each topic, sentence find what research relates to the topic sentence. Do not use anything that does not relate (Doing this will make your essay coherent)


Thesis statement revised: >Traditional and nontraditional college students are uniquely different because of their personal and socio-economic positions, their attitudes toward attaining an education, and their personal obligations and responsibilities.

--Topic sentence (1) Traditional college students differ from non-traditional ones in their personal and social positions. Most come from families that have one or more parent who has a degree, they have encouraged their children in education, and talked to them about their future at college. On the other hand, non-traditional students have been uninterested in going directly to college, or they or their parents have not been able to afford higher education, or they received no encouragement from parents. A recent study by ______ revealed the following information: [here is where you report on surveys and studies, documenting what the topic sentence declares.]  Another report revealed that non-traditional students ______ (Use 3 or 4 different studies, reports, interviews, etc. as support. The more support you have, the stronger your argument is and the better your essay will be.) Then, the last sentence of the paragraph should contain a transition to the next. e.g.These differences in familial and socio-economic backgrounds often affects the students' attitudes.

--Topic sentence (2) Non-traditional students often differ greatly from traditional students in their attitude toward attending college. Whereas many younger college students are very excited about the social life on campus where they live and perceive this as equally as important as attending classes, non-traditional students often do not live on campus and their focus is more upon the academics and the attainment of a degree. In a study by __________, younger students were less goal-orientated. They felt that -------But, non-traditional students who were on the average X years older stated that their main purpose was ------------

(Add support, support. Then make a transitional sentence to the next paragraph) You can also contrast what types of majors each group are. The adult students tend to seek more marketable majors, for instance.

--Topic sentence (3) Perhaps, the sharpest contrast among traditional and non-traditional college students is in the area of responsibilities. For, it has been documented that ninety percent (find what the real percentage is--I am just making this up for the purpose of example) of students who enroll in college the year following their high school graduation are single with no children and have no personal responsibilities other than for themselves. On the other hand,non-traditional students are composed of those who have jobs and families. XXX reports from 2010 that --percent of non-traditional students have spouses and ---have both a spouse and one or more children. With these added responsibilities, non-traditional students have less time to focus on their studies. Yet, in X number of cases, they have made better grades than average in their coursework.

(You can also mention that sometimes adult students must take fewer hours than the traditional student because they must work or care for a family. Therefore, they take longer to graduate.)

Again, provide copious supporting details from studies, surveys, articles, etc. An essay is like a house: it must be built on a strong foundation [thesis] and have strong supporting "beams" [surveys, studies, statistics, etc]

--Concluding paragraph: Simply reword the thesis and tie your ideas together with a "clincher": an observation based on what you have written that extends the argument you have made to an interesting thought.

Here is an example of a conclusion: Because non-traditional and traditional students have such differing beginnings to their college education, they are often motivated differently and have different priorities and goals. Certainly, with the support, both emotional and financial, from their parents, traditional students have an easier transition into college. But, the adult student who is self-motivated to elevate him or herself in life can often overcome obstacles to completing a college education as studies herein have demonstrated, and successfully attain a degree and find a lucrative and satisfying job in life. (Be sure to work in the points you have made; I may have put something you have not proven or supported)

Note: As an instructor of writing for many years, I would grade your paper on (1) the organization of your essay--how well it is written, how coherent it is, how strong and viable its argument is, and how well this argument is supported with language and research, and (2) the documentation that you provide--its accuracy, relevance, and variety.

So, you will revise and insert MUCH more documentation with studies, surveys, etc. Good Luck! Spend time on this, and do not be afraid to revise, revise, revise. This is the most important phase of writing. By the way, I congratulate you for desiring to do well.