Did you know that we graduate students or students who have graduated, could very well earn our living by doing someone else’s homework or writing a research paper for someone else? 

Seriously!

Just Google, “Pay for doing your homework” or something similar.

Clearly, there is a huge market for it.

Technology has made it easier for students to defer their workload to someone else, someone more experienced (I wanted to describe this phenomenon as something other than cheating or plagiarizing). As a freelance copywriter, I frequently ghostwrite blog posts and other web contents and these are services I offer to my clients. When someone else posts the article in their name after paying me to write it, it is called ghostwriting. It is a very common practice. However, when students hire other professionals to do their work it is called plagiarism and if found, the students are subject to penalties.

To be clear, I am not making the case for it to be ok for students to hire someone else to do their homework.

But, I wanted to state something other than the obvious.

Before you go asking who these students are, I wanted to pose this question:  

Why are they doing it? 

I present a few probable reasons that come to my mind: 

  • I need a better grade but
    • I don’t understand the material
    • I don’t like the subject
    • This course is not my major
  • I need a better grade to
    • to finish school
    • to get a job

I have heard rants about how today’s students are entitled and want instant gratification. I have also heard the age-old parent-child discussion about how students today don’t have the same discipline as parents did and how easy kids have it today. I have been a recipient of this rant and even participated in some of them. But, I now realize that these statements do not do any good. These statements do not lead to solutions. In my school and college days, I have sought help to solve a problem and answer a question. Sometimes we shared each other’s answers; it was our own version of collaborating. With the technology, I have copied and pasted codes from various sources to enhance my understanding and made tweaks to them to get my programs to run. I called it learning.

But, technology has also allowed students to keep their inability to answer a problem a secret by paying for the solutions. I find it disturbing in many ways because when I worked with my friends, we spent most of our time trying to explain the problem to each other and wrestling to find the solutions. We were able to understand the concept. We may not have been able to find the solutions every time, one may have been the leader and the rest followers on some days, but we always gained more insights than we started working at it. Asking for help is also a hard thing and so we tried our best to do the work ourselves first.

Once students start paying for the work, the feeling of entitlement and receiving a quality service is expected without any discomfort and every time they get stuck (rather too easily), they might be tempted to go that route again and again. I suspect that this will lead to students shying away from putting in any effort and therefore, missing out on the most important lesson in school – learning from their actions, learning from their mistakes, and learning, PERIOD!

Paying for your homework

Paying for your homework

The love for learning is the one of the most important things that have carried me through my life and I know how important it is, especially in today’s fast-paced world where in order for us to thrive, we need to be continually learning.

I have been there with my friends who have considered a class or two (or more) to be boring, or a question or two (many more) to be worth working collaboratively on, a concept or two worth skipping in order to graduate.

We all strived to land a good job and were confident to learn quickly on the job. However, times have changed but the same messages still linger. 

Now, there are too many students who graduate who are ready to learn on the job. Students graduate with little to no experience, too few skills and with too much information around them. And the harsh reality is that there are very few jobs and they have the choice to take in the brightest and the smartest, and the ones in their network.

Many remain unemployed.

There simply aren’t enough jobs out there that are willing to risk taking in the novices because the skillset needed is much deeper and the turnaround time much faster. 

So, this leads to me asking more questions: 

  • How are schools and colleges adapting to this changing technology? 
  • Are schools just looking at Copyscape and other plagiarism checkers to make sure that no noticeable plagiarism has occurred? 
  • Are schools changing the way students are taught? 
  • Are teachers getting enough one-on-one time with students to really understand how students are progressing in ways other than by grading their assignments and test papers?
  • Are students encouraged to participate, ask questions, and make mistakes without penalty?
  • Have students really achieved the objective of the class as mentioned in their course syllabus?
  • Are students excited to learn and apply the topics and concepts learned in class to their own individual projects?
  • Do students understand how these courses are helping them prepare for their career and life ahead?

If schools and colleges are responsible for preparing students for their career and life ahead, shouldn’t getting students excited about learning, be one of their main goals?

I have always loved learning and I have had tutors, parents, friends, teachers, mentors, and seniors to help me get through. It was the only way I knew that I could move forward.

This market of having homework done by someone else does not make me feel good or proud of the institution that I believe in so much. I do think there needs to be a change. Sir Ken Robinson has spent decades advocating for change. Teachers, students, administrators, and concerned graduates have been advocating for change for a long time too.

Isn’t it time for a change?

You see, I have tutored and mentored students, especially with respect to their research projects and assignments which ask of them to use statistical software to make sense of data and complete an assignment or a project. This is one area where I thrive. I love to connect the dots, make sense of data, and hope that students start loving this process of learning too.

Let me put this fact out of the way, having a tutor is both expensive and time-consuming than having someone do the assignment for you. Tutoring or teaching takes patience, expertise (or the ability to say I don’t know but I’ll get back to you or let’s find out), understanding, and a rapport that the latter option does not require much of.

I see students coming to me with a step by step guidance of running the software (that they are required to work independently on), still without the confidence to do so on their own.

I don’t blame them.

If it is their very first time running any type of statistical software, everything they read looks foreign to them and they fear that they will mess up even when they have a step by step guide.

It was my advisor who sat me down and showed me how to run the statistical commands and make sense of the output before I started playing with the data, doing my analyses, and looking for extra help on online forums. Taking those first steps are always difficult and those are the times when having someone beside you, holding your hand and patting your back even, before you can gain enough momentum to go at it all by yourself.

Students, however, are left on their own and are expected to follow directions, get the results, and make sense out of the results, all at the same time. It is like introducing alphabets to a kid and asking of them to write a story the same week.

Technology has allowed us to flip the classes, blend the classes, and afford more time to bring in one-on-one and group interactions to the forefront. I have worked with many students to know that most students, who don’t approach teachers with questions and students who work independently, are missing out on all the fun of learning.

I love to teach students but I’d much rather that they contact me because they want to learn more than just to finish an assignment. We all need and crave for one-one-interaction. Students need personal attention. Let’s give them more of that in school.

And if you have paid for an assignment or are considering to pay for one, realize that finding a place of love or at least, respect for the subject to get that assignment done on your own, with the help of your teacher or your friends will say a lot about you as a person. The job market has changed a lot but, in addition to the new skills that are required, soft skills remain the same and are in fact much more in demand. Jobs you will work on whether for a company or out on your own, will require you to keep learning, keep adapting, and collaborating. There will not be an easier and a friendlier place for you to learn and practice those skills than at school.

Please comment below with any questions. If you feel stuck with a project or a research question, or have a career question, send me an email at sudiksha@wearealwayslearning.com. I would love to hear from you.