The year 2009 was a year of big changes for me. I graduated with my MA in Professional Writing. My husband and I moved across the country from Georgia to California. And the economy fell off a cliff.
I know what you’re thinking. Someone with a degree in “Professional Writing” should probably expect to have a hard time finding a job regardless of what’s happening in the economy, but I swear I thought this out.
Graduate school gave me tangible skills with classes in document design and editing. I had a great experience and you should all shake your heads sadly and learn from my choices.
I wasn't worried because I have had a job since I was 15. So what if nobody’s hiring? Convenience store, call center, restaurant, doesn’t matter. I’ve worked them all and I have no shame.
After a few weeks I realized just how competitive the job market actually is in Los Angeles. Restaurants asked for headshots with my application. My master’s degree made every retail store give me the side eye. I was suddenly unqualified and overqualified for everything.
Aside from being underemployed, I quickly learned that LA is a super expensive city. Like $7 for a domestic draft beer expensive. My part-time job and unpaid internship kept me firmly at home watching television and eating Ramen noodles every night while interest added up on my student loans.
My husband suggested that maybe I could make some money offering college students help with their college essays. Sure! After 19 years of school, I was definitely qualified to help someone with their homework.
I put together a Craigslist ad detailing my credentials and the responses started rolling in. But instead of “Could you edit my paper?” I was getting “Hey, just do my assignment” or “Could you take my online class?” Well, beggars can’t be choosers, so from 2009 to 2013 I wrote dozens of papers and took several online classes. Here are a few things I learned along the way:
1. People who buy papers come from every walk of life.
It’s easy to assume that all students who buy papers are 20-somethings using mom and dad’s money so they can spend more time being hungover. Sure, there are plenty of those, and those are the ones who were the most demanding and difficult to work with. Twenty pages by tomorrow? I’m not a wizard, kid.
But aside from the ne’er do wells, there were non-traditional students who were having a rough time balancing work, family, and a full class load. These students often expressed a lot of guilt, and I have a lot of sympathy for the pressure they were under.
Finally, there were those who were simply overwhelmed and unable to do college level work. Students who bought papers from me went to community college, online programs, USC, and UCLA.
2. I didn’t charge enough.
I loved school, and I even had fun doing a lot of the assignments. Who has two thumbs and had a great time researching a paper about the religious symbolism in the movie Groundhog Day? This gal.
But I also cared too much. I got the same worried knot in the pit of my stomach every time an assignment was due, and I stressed over the work as if I were the one getting the grade. If I had to do it over again I would realize that $75 for a four-page paper that required research and MLA formatting was practically giving it away.
3. You probably won’t get caught.
In the beginning, I would tell students that it would be a good idea to take the paper I wrote and put it in their own words. You’d think it would be a glaring issue for a student who’s had trouble the entire semester to turn in an “A” paper that doesn’t sound like anything else they’ve written. You’d be wrong.
I know a handful of adjunct professors, and as long as the paper is original (meaning chunks of the writing isn’t being recycled from other papers or online sources) they often don’t have the time or support of the administration to accuse someone of plagiarism. I would also add that they don’t get paid enough to weed out people buying papers, but that’s another essay.
4. You really are only cheating yourself.
Do I feel guilty? A little, but mostly for the other students who are working hard and giving it “the old college try” and getting lumped in with people who are buying assignments. It’s not fair, but life isn’t fair.
People who avoid work in college will find other ways to half-ass their way through life and it will either catch up with them, or they will have to spend the rest of their lives trying to find people to do their work.
5. We should really stop herding people into college.
I can’t tell you how many students couldn’t compose a simple email that told me what their assignment was and when it was due. Red flag right? Not for “for profit” colleges it isn’t. You got a pulse and qualify for student loans? You’re in! You know the type I’m talking about -- rhymes with the University of Shmee-nix?
These students lack basic skills and aren’t ready for college, but that doesn’t stop schools from signing them up for thousands of dollars in student debt. These institutions have much lower graduation rates than the national average and students from for-profit colleges are much more likely to default on their student loans. It’s still a tough economy out there and most of these folks will end up in the same position I was in 2009 -- but without the skills to do other people’s homework for cash.
Post your essay. Get expert feedback. For free.We're trying to help students improve their writing the hard way. Do you know students who want critical essay reviews from a professor of English Literature? Click like to share. Click here to sign up and post your own essay. We offer no paid services. All reviews are completely free.
Helping Others - With A Free Essay Review
Random acts of kindness is a good example of the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". I've done many acts of kindness but one really enriched my life and touched my heart. I ended up gaining a sister, a friend for life, a clean house, and in the end I ended up needing her as much as she needed me.
A couple of months ago, a friend of mine brought a young lady over for me to meet. We met, talked for about ten minutes, and then she politely asked if she could use my shower. During the time she was in the shower, my friend explained to me that she was without a home and had nowhere else to go. I explained to him how my home is always welcomed to those in need. I recalled how rough it was for me when I too was homeless, out on the streets, struggling to make ends meet. It did not take her long to get comfortable and feel right at home.
She is still living with me after two months, and I've asked her to reside with me for the rest of my life. She has helped me out through so much. I now get to come home to a clean house and gourmet cooked meals every night. I quickly gained a sister and friend for life.
Shortly after, her moving in, my fiance (and soul mate) got deployed to Afghanistan for nine months. I have never had to deal with a deployment before. Fortunately for me she has been through many deployments and knew exactly how to help me through this one. I never realized how hard it would be, but sure enough she is helping me pull through this. I couldn't have done this without her. She has also motivated me to go out and do more. I'm no longer allowed to just sit around the house anymore. I now have to actually get up in the mornings, instead of sleeping all day, and help clean the house. I am made to get out of the house on a daily basis, even if I only take a short stroll around neighborhood.
It doesn't just go one way though. I have helped her out with stability, getting her car registered, and having it insured. I have also motivated her to get in school, she is wanting to become a nurse and help elderly people. She has shown me a lot of things that I can do, on a daily basis, to help others around me that are less fortunate. I hope one day to have as big of a heart as she has, to be more caring and understanding to those in need.
In conclusion, I learned that when you help someone out, even if it's something small, it may end up surprising you how big it is to the other person. I never realized how something so little can have such a huge impact on someone else's life. I am so blessed to have ended up with such a wonderful person, and sister, in my life. God only knows the wreck I would be in right now without her helping keep my sanity intact. She has blessed my life in so many ways, from helping me keep a clean house, to simply motivating me to do something every day. I encourage you to go out of your way, for someone in need, every chance you get. You never know what may happen.
There's not a whole lot to critique in a simple story such as this. The story is reasonably well told, although it relies occasionally on vague formulations (such as "she is helping me pull through this" - your reader will not have a clear idea what this means) or cliches ("I couldn't have done this without her" - even if they are true, which they often are not, cliches tend to be dull).
The analytical part of your essay, where you reflect on the wider significance of your particular experience, is fairly limited in scope, so it is difficult to see what value or interest the essay might have for a general reader. There's a little lesson, I suppose, in the first sentence of the final paragraph, but in truth it's fairly banal (as is the final sentence), and the conclusion as a whole is rather repetitive.
Submitted by: miss1989
There are no comments for this essay.