Wow, this essay--The Shadow Scholar--from The Chronicle Review is incredible. Even if you hate every word, you have to appreciate the quality of the writing. Below are my highlights of the best parts that jumped out at me. Read the whole piece at The Chronicle.
The Shadow Scholar - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
- November 12, 2010 The Shadow Scholar The man who writes your students' papers tells his story Jonathan Barkat for The Chronicle Review Enlarge Image Jonathan Barkat for The Chronicle Review By Ed Dante
- I've written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on very tight deadlines. But you won't find my name on a single paper.
- I've attended three dozen online universities. I've completed 12 graduate theses of 50 pages or more. All for someone else.
- 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? I live well on the desperation, misery, and incompetence that your educational system has created. Granted, as a writer, I could earn more; certainly there are ways to earn less. But I never struggle to find work. And as my peers trudge through thankless office jobs that seem more intolerable with every passing month of our sustained recession, I am on pace for my best year yet. I will make roughly $66,000 this year
- The New York Times reported that 61 percent of undergraduates have admitted to some form of cheating on assignments and exams.
- My favorite customers are those with an unlimited supply of money and no shortage of instructions on how they would like to see their work executed. While the deficient student will generally not know how to ask for what he wants until he doesn't get it, the lazy rich student will know exactly what he wants. He is poised for a life of paying others and telling them what to do. Indeed, he is acquiring all the skills he needs to stay on top.
- So part of my job is to be whatever my clients want me to be.
- have completed countless online courses. Students provide me with passwords and user names so I can access key documents and online exams. In some instances, I have even contributed to weekly online discussions with other students in the class.
- I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow.
- clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked.
- It's not implausible to write a 75-page paper in two days. It's just miserable. I don't need much sleep, and when I get cranking, I can churn out four or five pages an hour. First I lay out the sections of an assignment—introduction, problem statement, methodology, literature review, findings, conclusion—whatever the instructions call for. Then I start Googling. I haven't been to a library once since I started doing this job. Amazon is quite generous about free samples. If I can find a single page from a particular text, I can cobble that into a report, deducing what I don't know from customer reviews and publisher blurbs. Google Scholar is a great source for material, providing the abstract of nearly any journal article. And of course, there's Wikipedia, which is often my first stop when dealing with unfamiliar subjects.
- As with so many other topics I tackle, the connection between unethical business practices and trade liberalization became a subtext to my everyday life. So, of course, you can imagine my excitement when I received the good news: "thanx so much for uhelp ican going to graduate to now".