By Aya Abdelmoamen
All student names have been changed to protect their identities. Even though their names are made up, their stories are real.
When an essay is due, students have very few choices; they can choose to either write the paper or receive help. The most alluring of choices, however, is hiring someone to write the paper for you.
Tempted by the advertisements of professional essay writings, students lose control of their essays to companies that often employ writers of a Master’s or Doctorial standard.
Claiming to write original top notch essays from scratch, Andrew, an employer at the professional writing site samedayessay.com, says that there are 3000 writers, from the US and the UK, who are willing to compete for high salaries. A three-page undergrad paper is $66.84, and that is if you are ordering 10 days before your deadline. If you want your paper within 24 hours, a three page is worth $108.84.
“There are 200 students coming for help every day. One customer usually orders from 5-7 papers every term,” said Andrew. According to Andrew, samedayessay.com writers have been in the writing field for more than seven years, and are well experienced. Andrew declined to give his full name.
Yaser, a sophomore, bought an essay from customwritings.com; he described the process of receiving his effortless paper in one statement, “it’s like ordering sushi and finding it on your doorstep, that’s just how easy it is …. Except I kinda have to dumb it down a little so it wouldn’t be too suspicious.”
The Allure of Buying Papers
Students sometimes delay their college work load because of stress.
“I feel pressured because I procrastinate,” Aaron, a full time student, said. “But that’s because I have a bunch of college work, a full time job at Subway, family issues, and on top of that I have to worry about my papers.” Aaron purchased three papers from samedayessay.com.
The companies that market professional essays promise students that their identity will not be revealed, which makes it comfortable for students to purchase the essays without the fear of being caught. Dan, who has purchased two papers already, says, “Those essay writer people won’t ever rat out anyone, you don’t even have to give them your real name for them to do your essay.”
Students say that they rarely have the extra time to sit and write the papers that their professors assign. The English Department Chair, Allison Pease says, “It is often students who have received low grades on papers early in the semester that then turn to plagiarism, because they feel it is the only way to raise the grade in the class.”
Catherine Kemp, a Philosophy professor, said that students resort to such services if they are taking a course outside their major and think that they “‘don’t know what the professor wants’, and that a made-to-order assignment will get them a better grade.” Students often order their papers in order to meet deadlines.
These questionable companies convince desperate students that they can help them with any type of service work, including research, thesis, and term papers.
According to Jane Gilon, a representative of essaywriter.org, it is mostly college and university students attending to such help. “We only write papers from scratch,” she said “only original papers.”
Professors Fight Back
Professors, however, are catching onto students, who are buying their papers online, and some have even developed methods to identify these fake papers. According to Kemp, professors are well aware of students that are plagiarizing. “Many of us try to devise assignments that will make using canned papers impossible,” she said, “it’s the reason I require so much in-class writing and in-class essay exams.”
There have been students who have been caught for using such services, and their plagiarism has led them to receiving academic punishment.
“The penalty is an F for the assignment and being reported for plagiarism,” Kemp says. Furthermore, websites, like Turnitin.com, are strong weapons against these fake essays.
Turnitin.com is a website that many professors use to detect plagiarized work. The writers of these fake essays claim that their papers are one-hundred percent original, but that is not always the case.
According to Adam Wandt, who is the Deputy Chair for Instructional Technology of the Department of Public Management, “Turnitin.com makes it much easier for me to spot plagiarism.”
“These services might advertise their work as original work, but in their sloppy writing, they plagiarize a little bit,” he said, “turnitin.com is so good at picking up shortcuts these professionals use.”
Professors are definitely aware when their students plagiarize, because the writing styles of these professional writers differ from the writing styles of the student. “Professors are very intelligent when it comes to knowing that that student couldn’t have written that paper,” he said.
Just recently, professor Wandt caught a student who purchased his paper. When questioned about the paper, the student could not identify the writing as his own. “He understands not a word,” Wandt said.
When students are caught plagiarizing, there are two possible outcomes: temporary suspension or expulsion.
One student describes his plagiarism experience as horrid. “I felt like I was getting arrested and hadda’ go through this whole process with my professor,” Sebastian said, a sophomore. “I’m never gunna’ do that again, for real.” He further explained that his professor gave him an “F” for the course, which will now be a permanent figure on his transcript.
The writing center is a much safer alternative to these paying services, but students continue to complain that going to the writing center requires too much time from their busy schedules. “I don’t need help with my paper, I just don’t got time to write it,” William said.
John Jay offers its students unlimited and free tutoring sessions for both undergraduate and graduate students who need help, a privilege that many outside of the college academia do not have. The tutors in the writing center are trained to help students with the writings specific to their discipline.
With one call or visit, students can schedule an appointment to the writing center. It is unfortunate that some students do not have the “I’d grab it while you can, since it’s free!” drive, as professor Kemp puts it. Students prefer to order the fake papers because it’s the easier alternative, as Dan says, it’s like “one-two-three.”
Faculty interested in the genuine success of their students would hate to see them succumb to such plagiarism services. “I hate the idea that students, who are already paying good money to learn, would pay more money not to learn by having someone else write their papers for them,” said Allison Pease.