Why Do Students Feel As If They Need Them?
I recently had the opportunity to speak with a former writer for a prestigious essay writing service and his experience in the industry.
"I have witnessed the steady growth of this industry for years. When I became part of the team for Rush Essay, I thought we would be writing academic content for students with below-average capacity. I was in for a surprise. We got orders from all types of students - lazy ones who only want to find an easier way out of a messy situation, as well as really smart young people who simply couldn't find the time to do their own work.
I was convinced that students who got into Harvard, Berkeley, Oxford, Cambridge, and other prestigious US and UK universities would work much harder than the ones admitted to "secondary" schools. In fact, they do work hard; and that is the exact reason why they cannot afford to fail. In some cases, the assignment's requirements are so complex that it's difficult for the students to understand what the real question is. The struggles of ESL students are even greater; it is nearly impossible for them to produce degree-level academic content. Since the charges for plagiarism are serious, they have to rely on essay writing services as a solution that provides unique content by the given deadline."
Some statistics - Who buys papers online?
The essay writing industry is a source of interesting statistical data. California, New York and Texas are the most popular regions where orders were coming from. Stanford, UCLA, Berkeley, NYU, Columbia, University of Houston, and other institutions from these states are known for their competitive systems. A student who hopes to graduate from one of these universities usually needs to rely on "unorthodox" methods to deal with all challenges imposed by the professors. Since academic writing is becoming one of the most prominent aspects of the educational system, the constant development of the custom-writing industry is clearly justified.
The most popular types of content requested from custom-writing services are essays, research papers, and MA thesis. Students have an abundance of essays and research papers to write, so there is nothing unusual in the fact that professional writers mostly deal with these types of assignments. When it comes to subjects, students most commonly struggle with projects for Business, English language, and Management courses.
According to those within the industry, buying papers is a necessary reaction to serious underlying issues in the educational system. All college and university professors will tell you the same thing: to them, the act of purchasing papers online is no different than plagiarism. However, some argue that the issue is more complex than that claiming, that the content completed by professional writers is not plagiarized. It is completely unique, well-researched and properly-referenced. When a customer buys this type of product, he has the right to use it as a source for another paper, or simply submit it as his own. The teacher may suspect that the student didn't write a particular paper, but there is no way to prove such claims. Higher education is an industry on its own. Universities accept more applicants, including international students who don't have the needed grasp of the English language to write extraordinary academic content. On the other hand, they don't provide effective support that would enable these students to fit into the system.
The benefits of using custom-writing services are immense for foreign students. In addition, students with part-time jobs, older students who have families and those who are going through tough personal struggles simply need help to go through all challenges they face. The rapid growth of the custom-writing industry is a symptom of the great weaknesses within the educational system, which put students through a great deal of stress and emotional struggle.
What About The Moral Argument?
We all know the definition of cheating is, and simply saying that the work is more challenging for most or that they may not receive enough support from educators, or have enough time to dedicate to the work does not change the definition of cheating, or make it right in any way. Speaking from both ends of the argument, there are those that feel as if these services are creating lazy students and helping to grow an unprepared workforce.
Writing is a vital skill that is applied in many areas of life, especially for those who are entering the workforce, whether they are doing so as an employee or a business owner.
With communications being a vital skill for anyone entering the workforce, our education system recognizes this and strives to prepare our students by requiring them to improve this skill through writing assignments. By outsourcing the work, students, are depriving themselves of the opportunity to strengthen their communications and writing skills.
Are professors and teachers that difficult to reach that so many prefer to risk the stiff penalties of being caught cheating, rather than asking for help? There are many other options available for international, and any other student that may be struggling to keep up, from study groups, to programs within schools and Universities, such as writing centers. What they do require, however, is that the student actually make an effort, by simply making the decision to apply themselves.
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If you attended high school in the late nineties and early aughts, it's likely that you used the family computer in the den to type up your essays or do research. It's also likely that much of your time "doing research" was actually tooling around on AOL with an open Microsoft Word window so if your parents walked in you could smoothly play it off like you were truly doing work.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
EssayTyper is a site that allows you to plug in virtually any subject, then brings you to a Word-style webpage where you can write your essay. But you don't have to "write" anything. Not technically. Just bang on the keyboard and words appear.
Go ahead, try it. I used "economics" then pressed that button on the right.
Immediately, a paper appears.
The title is prewritten: "Innovative or Simply Post-Modern?"
And then, some computer magic.
Just start banging on keys.
Bang on the home keys, bang on the number keys. Press enter! Press delete! What will they think of next?
And here's a look at what's happening on the screen:
It's very fun, but we wondered if students were actually trying to pass off these generated papers as their own.
See, the first sentences of "Truly Jobs" (all EssayTyper papers are pre-titled) reads as follows:
Steven Paul "Steve" Jobs was an American pioneer of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s. He would come to be known as the entreprenur, marketer, and inventor, and cofounder, chairman, and finally CEO of Apple Inc. who transformed "one industry after another, from computers and smartphones to music and movies.
And a quick search proved it was just a rewrite of Jobs' Wikipedia page. So was our EssayTyper paper on Business Insider, and "Mad Men."
In 2012, The Atlantic published "Write My Essay, Please!" uncovering the truth behind sites similar to EssayTyper and the people who use them.
"Essay writing has become a cottage industry premised on systematic flaunting of the most basic aims of higher education," Richard Gunderman explains in the Atlantic piece. "The very fact that such services exist reflects a deep and widespread misunderstanding of why colleges and universities ask students to write essays in the first place."
While EssayTyper is free, and pretty useful for fooling your parents into thinking you're actually sitting on the computer and doing legitimate work, Gunderman says the bevvy of sites out there that appoint real people to write term papers for students is alarming. And, he points out, paying someone to write an essay for you isn't technically plagiarism.
"In this case, assuming the essay-writing services are actually providing brand-new essays, no one else's work is being stolen without consent," Gunderman writes. "It is being purchased. Nevertheless, the work is being used without attribution, and the students are claiming credit for work they never did. In short, the students are cheating, not learning."
A quick Google search for "how to find out if student is plagiarizing" serves up tons of tips and tricks for exhausted teachers and parents. A site called PlagTracker lets you type in a phrase or sentence to run against the rest of the internet. I copied and pasted the first sentence of "my" Steve Jobs essay.
The process took about twenty seconds (and PlagTracker offered to speed it up if I paid.) Here were the results.
My content was "81% plagerized from 5 sources," but none of those sources were listed as Wikipedia.
Brooklyn Friends School teacher Kathleen Clinchy agrees that while technology has made it easier to cheat, it's now a lot harder to definitively catch a cheater. She says resorting to old-school interrogation is the way to go.
In an email to Business Insider, Clinchy tells us:
It gets a little tricky because you don't want to accuse a student of cheating, so being able to have a conversation with strategic questioning is a good skill to have as a teacher. In younger grades, like middle school, you can get the parent involved and just ask them to revise the work together (AKA make sure your child stops cheating), but high school is a little murkier.
You also need to watch for students copying or plagiarizing each other too — that's where you just give the kids their papers back together with highlighted similar sentences and just stare at them until they talk.
But Bay Gross, founder of EssayTyper, has made sure to caveat his service to take any potential blame off of himself and the site. "Please don't ever try to use this legitimately," he says on the site. "The magic part is not real ... and that's plagiarism."