Hiring Essay Writers in College: Is It Ethical?

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Most, if not all U.S. presidents have or have had speech writers at some point or, at least teams of people who help formulate coherent thoughts and offer creative suggestions as to how to express them in public.

Nowadays, it is not at all uncommon for business executives to hire ghost writers. I happen to earn a living as a legal copywriter, which means I get paid to write articles for clients, who happen to be attorneys. There is a disclaimer at the beginning of each online post that informs the reader the post was written “on behalf of” whomever the attorney is. The material is original and no credit is given to the writer online.

However, if a college student is given an essay assignment for which he or she will receive a grade, shouldn’t the work submitted be by his or her own hand? If a student pays another person to formulate the thoughts and put them in writing, then earns a grade for the work – see the problem?

Many post-secondary schools prohibit purchased essays. It’s not about whether the work has been plagiarized (It’s easy to scan an essay online and detect plagiarism anyway.) but about earning an academic grade for something another person has done.

One might argue that college students are merely “in the business” of getting good grades in order to earn a particular degree; therefore, if a student innovatively finds a way to earn a better grade by hiring someone to write an essay, what’s wrong with that? Isn’t merely an example of good business sense?

On the other hand, while the author of a hired essay may attest to the fact that the work has not been plagiarized, the student is submitting the work to a professor for a grade as his or her own work.

Some say the education system in the U.S. is responsible for producing college-level students with poor writing skills for they are products of their environments. In short, students may not feel pressured into hiring writers if they were taught better writing skills to start.

Beyond the question of whether hiring a college essay writer is ethical, we need to ask what it benefits a student, personally, to hire a writer rather than struggle through the assignment given. Are students profiting as much as they can from their college educations if they’re merely hiring people to do their work, then collecting their diplomas as though they’d completed the assignments themselves?

I’ve witnessed similar situations on much smaller scales when elementary or high school children have handed in craft project assignments that their parents created for them. I’ve heard mothers say that their children got As on their extra credit projects, then laugh at the fact that they (the mothers) had stayed up half the night creating the projects. I can’t imagine ever doing work then allowing my children to hand it in for a grade as their own. Not only do I believe that would be dishonest, I also believe it would not help my children reach their full potentials as much as allowing them to do their own work, even if the work is challenging or they receive a lower grade.

I think the difference between a business executive hiring a writer and a college student purchasing an essay is that one is earning a grade toward a degree that is supposed to prove he or she did a certain amount of work and the other is merely creating and selling a product or service and using available resources to maximize productivity and profitability.

What do you think? Is it ethical for college students to hire essay writers?


Writer Bio: Judy Dudich

Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.

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