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Printing two copies of a 35-page dissertation at the university library: £3.50
Wire-binding both copies: £18
Four-pack of energy drinks and a packet of biscuits to make it through deadline night: £3.49
And there you have it – the recipe for a complete dissertation comes in at under £25. But what price do you put on the sleepless nights, stressful supervisor meetings and 12-hour library stints? How much would it cost to have someone else do it for you?
Well, if you’re after a first-class history dissertation written by an Oxbridge graduate and delivered in a week, according to one essay-writing company, it’ll set you back a cool £3,430 – just £145 less than an entire year’s standard student maintenance loan. If you can wait a bit longer and you’re only after a Desmond, you can get it for just under a grand.
These prices must be out of reach for most students, but a quick online search of “essay-writing services” returns more than 31 million hits. Clearly these businesses are thriving – so where are their customers? Where are the students who are shelling out thousands of pounds for a pre-packaged essay?
The unhappy answer, I fear, is: wherever there are desperate students. Things go wrong at university – family bereavements, personal crises, simple time mismanagement – and the sheer stomach-turning, throat-constricting panic of being unable to produce an assignment on deadline leads vulnerable students down this costly path.
Now, three grand is worth a bit of customer service, right? Yet online forums are full of complaints about essays arriving peppered with spelling mistakes, arguments that don’t match pre-approved propositions and – the most common grievance – results that don’t match the promised grade.
One user, who goes by the forum name RippedOff, told me that when she complained about not receiving an essay on time, she was informed that the company had been unable to get in contact with her assigned writer.
“They refused to give me a refund,” says RippedOff, “and said that I could claim a discount, but only off the next purchase I made with them. I didn’t want to take it any further because I was worried about being found out. The essay never arrived and I was £200 out of pocket.”
So the prospect of shelling out for one of these essays is already looking pretty unappealing, even before we consider the unpleasant possibility of, you know, being thrown out of university for wilful plagiarism.
The websites advertise their essays as being “100% plagiarism free!”, which we can take to mean that they haven’t been copied from a database, and aren’t resold to future customers. But students would be very wrong if they thought this somehow put them on the right side of the rules.
By presenting someone else’s work as their own they would be in breach of any plagiarism policy at any university. The papers might pass a plagiarism scan, but there’s always the chance that a tutor will spot the signs of an essay that hasn’t been written by its submitter – disparity in writing style, for example.
But, of course, the essays provided aren’t for submitting! How could you possibly think such a thing? Because they guarantee certain grades? Because they promise to meet your deadlines? Because they’re fully referenced, double-spaced and bound? Well, clearly you haven’t read the small print. Because hidden away on a hard-to-find page on each of these websites is a disclaimer that says something like: our essays are intended for research purposes only.
A leading UK-based site even says that customers who order papers are implicitly confirming that using the service does not violate their university’s rules. It adds that, due to the fact the essays are purely for research, that shiny guaranteed 2:1 you were promised on the home page refers only to the general standard of the essay and not your final grade. Well, aren’t we glad we cleared that up?
So it’s as simple as that. All you have to do is shell out a few thou, bank on your essay arriving on time, hope it’s grammatically correct, ensure it makes sense, pray you don’t get found out, keep it quiet from all your friends (just to be safe), and live on packet noodles for the rest of term. What could be better?
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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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