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"The Shadow Scholar": Why higher education is in much worse shape than you think

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posted on Nov, 19 2010 @ 10:18 AM
Here is an eye-opening article by a man who makes a living writing papers for students. Online cheating has been an issue for some time, but I had no idea it was so widespread or organized.

One of the most shocking things in the article is his evaluation of the overall incompetence of students. even at the graduate level. After reading this, you have to wonder -- how have these students manged to make it through high school, never mind undergraduate- and graduate-level courses? In an era in which international competitiveness will incresingly depend on the skill levels and intellectual wattage of the labor force, this does not bode well at all.

I work at an online company that generates tens of thousands of dollars a month by creating original essays based on specific instructions provided by cheating students. I've worked there full time since 2004. On any day of the academic year, I am working on upward of 20 assignments.

In the midst of this great recession, business is booming. At busy times, during midterms and finals, my company's staff of roughly 50 writers is not large enough to satisfy the demands of students who will pay for our work and claim it as their own.

You would be amazed by the incompetence of your students' writing. I have seen the word "desperate" misspelled every way you can imagine. And these students truly are desperate. They couldn't write a convincing grocery list, yet they are in graduate school. They really need help. They need help learning and, separately, they need help passing their courses. But they aren't getting it.

For those of you who have ever mentored a student through the writing of a dissertation, served on a thesis-review committee, or guided a graduate student through a formal research process, I have a question: Do you ever wonder how a student who struggles to formulate complete sentences in conversation manages to produce marginally competent research? How does that student get by you?

More at source:

posted on Nov, 19 2010 @ 04:59 PM
reply to post by silent thunder

I think a lot of college professors these days don't care if their student's are really learning anything anymore, so long as their checks clear, all is well. I think professors are afraid that if they start demanding real work from their students, they will be classified as the "mean" professor and their class enrollment would decline. Emptying classrooms would mean the college needs one less professor.

It's the lazy professors who are hurting the whole system and enabeling the lazy, stupid students. In the end, a college degree won't be worth the paper its printed on and students will have thrown away thousands of dollars to pay for a worthless piece of paper and will not even have received any marketable skills for their efforts due to their cheating.

BTW, how do I apply for one of those ghost writer jobs?

It sounds like a good racket.

posted on Nov, 20 2010 @ 05:30 AM
I can definitely believe it. While my program, engineering, didn't require essays, I still saw all kinds of cheating, and the vast majority was never detected by the professors. Some of the more amusing ones that happened while I was at university:

-A student in a first year computer programming class hacked into his professor's computer, steals the code solution, and submits it unedited. (including all the professor's code comments!) His twenty or so best friends also submitted the same code unmodified. This was the only case in the engineering department where I saw disciplinary action taken during my five years there.

-A student in second year mechanics had acquired from an older student a set of assignment solutions from another year's assignments. (that were given out after the assignments were graded in that year) However, the professor was too lazy to change his assignments at all, and so they served as an answer key for the following years, and, of course, were widespread. This folder of solutions was referred to as 'the magic book'.

-A student of my English professor (in a different course than the one I was in) submitted a paper containing large chunks of plagiarized material (1+ page uncited quotations) that were detected by a suspicious professor using Google when the tone and voice of the paper changed markedly several times. That same professor had in years past a student who actually plagiarized from that professor's PhD thesis! Needless to say, she spotted that right away.

I also saw countless cases of copying assignments, inventing/altering/falsifying lab data in order to get the expected results, using unapproved materials on assignments (such as calculators on the 'banned' list because they could do things like integral calculus) or customized formula sheets with extra information. (why some professors allowed students to bring their own formula sheets to exams, I have no idea...)

I never had any online quizzes or assignments, but I saw younger students got more of these when I was near the end of my degree, and I would often see a half dozen of them sitting in a computer lab working on a quiz together. Other than the student going first (who still had the help of the other students) they would all get 100% since they knew the answers after the first student submitted theirs and had it electronically graded immediately.

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