Over the past four years as a full-time college student, I’ve witnessed firsthand countless students engaging in what I believe could be interpreted as the latest wave of academic cheating – students hiring online companies to write their essays and, in some cases, do all their other coursework as well. It’s a controversial issue, and I’ve talked to other students and even representatives from actual essay writing companies to get their take on the ethics of these services.
In recent years, there’s been an explosion of online companies that offer services for writing essays for students who are either too busy or just can’t write their own essays. The way it works is a student gets an essay assignment from his instructor; he finds a writing service online, like College-Paper.org, Master-Essay.com or EssayDot.com for example; he sends his assignment to the company and pays them to write his essay for him.
It’s really kind of brilliant when you think about it. These writing services state that they use professional writers, editors, and proofreaders with Ph.D.’s and master’s degrees, so the quality of the work is usually really good (hence why I’ve seen several students turn in A+ papers without writing a single word), and it’s all original, custom-written work, so the professor can run it through all the plagiarism checks he wants but nothing will turn up. It’s a win-win for the student. He gets a good grade, and he has little chance of getting caught for cheating.
Yes, I said it – I believe that hiring someone else to write your essay is cheating any way you slice it. In my view, there are ethical concerns on both the part of the student and the hired writer, and it can be seen a slap in the face to students like me who work hard and do things the right way, even if that means not always getting the good grade we want.
Look, I’m not naïve, and I’m not a judgmental person. I understand the temptation to use these services. As students, we’re all incredibly busy. We always have assignments that need to be completed, tests we need to prep for, jobs we have to work, and life we have to live. Using professional writing services can certainly help lighten the load and make life a little more manageable. To be honest, I’ve come really close to giving in and trying out these services when I was overloaded with work, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. If you ask me, it violates all academic ethics when a student turns in someone else’s work as their own. Hiring an online company to write an essay also cheats other students
out of getting a better grade. When a professional writer completes a student’s essay for them and they get a good grade, they’re actually causing other students’ grades to go down because their professionally written paper is setting the standard the other papers will be measured against. In other words, they’re breaking the curve and causing everyone else to suffer.
Finally, the student who hires someone else to write his paper is cheating himself in the end. Because he isn’t willing to do the work, he’s robbing himself of an education. We can argue about whether or not essay writing is an outdated teaching method or if it’s a fair way to grade students, but the fact is that it’s part of the college experience and it does have value. Even if a student never puts his writing skills to use later on in his career, he will still have work projects that need to be completed, requiring the same type of focus, preparation, and critical thinking skills that go into writing anessay. It’s important to develop those skills before graduating and
getting a job.
Are Essay Writing Companies Deserving of Blame?
While I don’t agree with students hiring someone else to write their papers, I understand where they’re coming from when they make that choice. Truth is that essays are a hassle to write, and at the end of the day, handing off your essay assignment to someone else can free up time to focus on more important academic tasks, like prepping for tests. That doesn’t make it right, but I get it. But what about the companies offering writer-for-hire services? Are
they doing something unethical? Are they at fault for tempting students to make potentially questionable, dishonest decisions? Or is there actually utility to these services? I recently reached out to a representative at College-Paper.org to get their opinion on the ethics of their services. The representative told me, “While I can understand the concerns some might have about our services, we believe we offer a useful service that helps students.
When used thoughtfully, it can actually be a powerful educational tool and a useful supplement to their education.”
On one hand, I agree that getting help with essay writing can teach the student to be a better writer by setting a standard and template to follow. However, turning in someone else’s work still poses serious ethical questions, and I think the companies offering these services should consider the fact that there’s the potential and temptation to abuse their services, using them as a shortcut rather than as a learning tool.
Obviously, this is a complex issue with a lot of gray areas, and while some see these services as a cheating tool others might not. Come to think of it, the ethics of hiring someone else to write your essay makes a pretty good essay topic!