Editor's Note: The following article is a guest post by Amber Massey, CEO of Mellel, a powerful word-processing app for Mac.
Sometimes, the workload of academia can become too much. Undergraduate students aren't always prepared for the pressure of their first midterm essay, and the amount of research and writing required in graduate school can throw students for a loop.
During such times, most students rely on coffee and all-nighters to get their work done, but some are tempted to complete everything by paying someone else to write their essays and dissertations for them.
In fact, there's a rising trend in students buying complete rewrites or original work that they can submit as their own term paper or essay.
Even those who participate in this are usually aware that it is unethical. However, to further explain why it's such a bad idea, here are six often overlooked reasons why you should rely on your savvy and not an online writing service to put together that A+ essay.
1. It Could Land You in Jail—Seriously
Sure, if pressed, most students would agree there's some level of cheating involved in hiring someone to write an original academic paper for them. But it is not only cheating; it could technically be fraud!
You could land yourself in legal hot water. In the International Journal for Educational Integrity, researchers report that more and more governments and legal bodies are pushing to classify the use of "essay mills" as legal fraud. With tuition and schoolbooks already costing so much, the last thing you'll want to do is have to hire a lawyer.
2. It's More Obvious Than You Think
No matter what guarantees an online writing service promises you about quality and plagiarism, there's one thing they cannot guarantee and definitely cannot provide: quality work written in your voice.
You have a personal vision, unique voice, and distinct way of seeing and approaching the world. Lending your voice to the academic world is one of your greatest strengths as a student, and it's something a writing team just can't duplicate. Your professor has heard you in class, has probably read an essay or two from you in the past. Don't you think they will quickly notice that your purchased paper or dissertation doesn't sound like you? When you pay for a paper, you rob the world of a great opportunity to hear your own unique perspective.
3. You're Paying for Dubious Research
When you write your own paper, you know it's based on sound research because you were the one who did the research.
However, when you pay someone else to write your paper, you have no idea what their credentials are. You don't know if their research can be trusted or even if they have any expertise in the topic.
4. You'll Never Know if You'll Get Away With It
Whether it takes six months or six decades, you'll never be free of the nagging feeling that you'll get caught. The fact is, once you've done it, it will follow you wherever you go. Take the case of Mustapha Marrouchi, an English professor at the University of Nevada who was caught for plagiarizing . . . more than 20 years after he first started!
Whether you doubt your own abilities or simply waited until the last minute, taking the easy way out today could mean a ruined career down the road. It's simply not worth the risk.
5. You Miss Out on the Opportunity to Grow
While writing a paper or preparing a dissertation in grad school might seem like busywork at times (such as when you're gathering sources, sifting through stats, or reorganizing arguments), this sometimes tedious exercise plays an important role.
Your professor or school has assigned you this task because it's an important opportunity to grow, learn more about the topic, explore your researching skills, and become familiar with a writing process that you'll use throughout your career. By skipping this task, you sabotage your own success down the road and miss an opportunity to become an even better academic.
6. You Could Lose Money
No amount of guarantees or promises from a writing service can protect you in the end. If you read the reviews of many essay mills, students complain all the time about inadequately cited evidence, errors in grammar or spelling, and poor organization. Even if the essay mill gives you a money-back guarantee, you still have no way of knowing if you'll get a quality paper in time for your deadline. In the end, the worry, stress, and money you spend would be better spent on doing the work yourself.
What's a Better Alternative?
If you're worried about the actual writing process, your school's student center or writing center likely has free or budget-friendly tutors and advisers who can guide you through the process and coach you. Your professor can also point you toward resources and references to speed up the project's research phase, and never underestimate the value of a librarian to help you find the sources you need.
Once you've written your own original paper, you can always turn to professional editing services to polish and fine-tune what you wrote. This can make you confident that your paper is clear, well organized, and free of grammar and spelling errors so you can dedicate your time to what matters most: writing a well-researched paper, in your own voice, that isn't full of fraudulent plagiarism.
Don't cheat yourself. I promise you, you have it in you to write and finish an excellent paper. Take the challenge as an opportunity to expand your confidence, skills, and expertise. While writing can feel like a slog right now, your academic path and future career will thank you.
Image source: Unsplash.com/Sebas Ribas
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About the Author
A graduate of Vassar College, Amber Massey is a wordsmith and communications professional with more than 10 years of experience. She holds a master's in international communication and is currently the CEO of Mellel, a powerful app redefining word processing for Mac.