January 30, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 32°F

ColumnsThe 'U' in Education

Essay industry cheats students

Essay writing comes easier to some than others. For those struggling with writing lengthy papers, there are now online services that should have professors on the lookout for suspicious essays.

Colleges and universities have legal obligations to detail the consequences of cheating and plagiarism. But some students are straying from producing their own work by paying professionals to write their papers for them.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill came under fire March 27 when a former tutor revealed a 146-word final essay written by a football player was directly copied from a children’s book about Rosa Parks. ESPN reported that UNC has allowed student athletes to cheat their way through college in order to remain eligible for varsity athletics since the 1990s. The news should have focused on professors who are directly assisting students, even non-athletes, in cheating and anonymously helping behind a screen.

A web search for “write my essay” yields hundreds of results that will offer the services of anonymous professionals to write original research papers. Procrastinating students outline the requirements for a paper in a forum and pay writers either with a bid or a set price. In general, these websites boast papers written by professionals holding Master’s degrees or above.

The ultimate question is whether or not these services are actually considered cheating or plagiarism. According to a 2012 article in The Atlantic, teachers and professors expect original work but never specify whose original work it has to be. These essay writing websites provide original papers for students who are paying for them. But because it is not a student’s original work, it is still considered cheating if discovered. Under Ithaca College’s academic code of conduct, handing in someone else’s work is academic dishonesty.

Above all, this practice is unethical. Some students are willing to pay hundreds of dollars each semester to cheat their way to school on top of thousands of dollars for college tuition. When a student uses an essay writing website, it wastes the time for professors grading unoriginal papers. It is also a waste of money for students and possibly their parents if students are caught.

Essays can be difficult to write. But if a student is in college, he or she should be capable of writing them without assistance. By avoiding essay writing, students lose a skill that is a part of everyday life, and they will only see their bank accounts depleting.