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It is well known that many actors, athletes, politicians, and businesspeople have contracted with uncredited ghostwriters to produce their memoirs for them. At the same time, higher education has been transformed into an industry, another sphere of economic activity where goods and services are bought and sold.
The sales pitch of the essay-writing services reassures students that they are learning what they need to know and merely "lack the time needed to get it down on paper."But more disturbingly, some students may question the very value of writing term papers.
After all, they may ask, how many contemporary jobs really require such archaic forms of writing?
If most institutions knew their students were using essay-writing services, they would undoubtedly subject them to disciplinary proceedings.
But the use of such services can be difficult to detect, unless the instructor makes the effort to compare the content and quality of each essay with other work the student has submitted over the course of a semester.
Instead, the services do all the work for them, requesting only three things: the topic, the deadline, and the payment.
Second, how do these essays manage to slip past an instructor undetected? A student in an undergraduate course recently submitted a truly first-rate term paper.In form, it was extremely well crafted, exhibiting a level of writing far beyond the typical undergraduate.In fact, many institutions of higher education market not the challenges provided by their course of study, but the ease with which busy students can complete it in the midst of other daily responsibilities.The shrewd shopper, it seems, invests the least time and effort necessary to get the goods.Essay writing has become a cottage industry premised on systematic flaunting of the most basic aims of higher education. Some of these Web sites offer testimonials from satisfied customers.The very fact that such services exist reflects a deep and widespread misunderstanding of why colleges and universities ask students to write essays in the first place. One crows that he received a B on a ghostwritten history essay he submitted at a prestigious Ivy League institution.The student had submitted an essay written by someone else as his own. He hadn't given any credit to the essay's true author, whose name he did not know.And he was prepared to accept credit for both the essay and the course, despite the fact that he had not done the required work.But what if the entire semester's work has been ghostwritten?Another disturbing question concerns the writers who produce such essays. One answer may be that many academics find themselves in dead-end, part-time teaching positions that pay so poorly that they cannot make ends meet, and essay writing can be quite a lucrative business.