Cheating in college: Students who buy their A’s

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A typical term paper “cheat” web site.

By Laura LaVacca

Campus News

For the low price of $50, you too can get a mediocre paper written by somebody else and a chance at rejection from your dream school, a zero for the course and even expulsion. Sound good? Well to some students, it does.

Both high school and college students are increasingly taking part in hiring people to write papers and college application essays. While this practice of “essay trafficking” is not anything new, it is becoming less secretive and more popular with writers blatantly advertising their services on Craigslist and other sites.

Current ads exclaim, “Don’t hire a tutor, hire us! We do all assignments!” or private writers boast, “I am a professional at taking online courses and writing essays.” There are even websites devoted to these services including “” where both high school and college students can pay anywhere from $13-17 dollars per page. More advanced level papers for such programs as Master’s degrees and Ph.Ds are available for $28-50 dollars per page.

“Some of my friends hired people to write their college application essays. I wanted mine to actually sound like me and not like a parent with more experience wrote it,” explains Long Island high school student, Emma Crispina.

“It’s completely unfair for the students who do their own research and whatever other work the paper entails,” explains Hofstra graduate student Lisa Rosse , “When a paper is assigned, it’s assigned to a student not a professional.”

This also begs the question of the integrity of the professional writing it. Are the writers just as much to blame as the students and parents who hire them? In addition, can students be sure of the quality, or lack there of, that they will receive?

“Getting into college is hard and being in college is hard,” student Theresa Eliza states. “Some students just look for the easy way out…I’d be far too nervous to take that chance. How do you even know if the paper is good? I don’t deserve to be in college if I can’t take the time to write my own paper. The repercussions aren’t worth it.”

Eliza brings up the consequences of such acts. For college application essays, students will be instantly rejected. Enrolled college students can be subject to expulsion. Colleges and universities have clear guidelines for plagiarism and attach such to the back of the syllabus of every course. Often students think they won’t get caught. However, when large discrepancies between student’s grades and quality of writing are noted, investigation usually follows.

St. John’s University Professor Theresa Collins explains, “Last year at my university we had a large issue with cheating. The student repeatedly claimed the paper was his when it clearly was not. He ended up getting expelled…I also had another student who stole a paper from someone else,” she continues. “ I’m also a mother of a high school student and the pressure they put on kids is extraordinary.”

Increasing competitiveness or just pure laziness? Numerous articles have noted the added pressure put on students to perform academically. Therefore, hiring others is not just a practice limited to paper writing, but also larger examinations as well. Most recently, Long Island high school administrators uncovered a large SAT cheating ring where higher-scoring students took SATs for other students. Involved students were arrested, fined and charged with a felony. Consequently, the SATs have put into effect stricter security measures including uploading a picture the day of registration.

These cheating practices are not exclusive to any one group or age level. The New York Times ran a large piece last fall, “The China Conundrum,” noting the propensity of non-native English speakers to utilize such services. College officials and consultants say they are seeing “widespread fabrication on applications, whether that means a personal essay written by an agent or an English proficiency score that doesn’t align with a student’s speaking ability.” Culturally, essay-trafficking is used to gain admittance into American schools.

In either case, cheaters cannot always prosper, as high school student Kaylee Miller notes, “I really don’t get it. How is anyone going to succeed in life, in a job where they can’t hire somebody to do their work for them? Are they going to hire someone to write their business emails? Meeting reports?” she adds emphatically, “Just don’t do it.”

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