Academic mercenaries for hire: A professional college cheater tells his story


Editor’s note: Louis Stone, a writer’s pseudonym, lives on the East Coast of the United States of America. He approached YNaija to tell his story of how he makes a living writing papers and doing assignments/etc for students ranging from high school to postgraduate. In the following article, some details and names of individuals and their assignments/essays have been changed to ensure confidentiality and privacy.

I live well on the desperate and anxiety-stricken students seeking to ‘get by’ the failing educational system—by tricking the educational system into thinking they are doing their assignments when in fact they are getting it done for them—by ghost writers like me. As a writer, I don’t struggle in finding work, albeit my earnings could be higher. And as my peers drudgery keeps them locked in a salary range, mine is more flexible and this year was my best year yet—making roughly $66k. Not a wealthy person’s income, but certainly nothing to be ashamed about. From my experience, students demographics are usually one of the following:(1) non-native English speakers; (2) hopeless/self-defeated students; or (3) the lazy rich student.

I recall once, at about 2pm, one of my customer’s urgent emails. Her exact message read (if I had to endure it, then you must as well): “You did for me business ethics proposol I need proposol get approved pls can write my paper will you for me?”

I must admit, I’ve gotten to be pretty darn good at decoding these grammatically corrupted requests. The client attached a document from her professor with all the details needed for the paper. The details read that she needed her first section in a week—all seventy-five pages of it.

I simply replied: “no problem.”

And honestly, it wasn’t a problem. Since, in roughly the last year or so, I’ve written 5,000+ pages of research/scholarly literature at or above graduate level of study. And most of them on unmovable deadlines; For example, I’ve written an MA research thesis in Cognitive Psychology, a Ph.D. research paper in Sociology, and much more postgraduate works in international diplomacy, written BA degree thesis papers in Hospitality, Business Administration, and accounting. Also, my writing reaches far beyond just these majors/topics—i’ve actually written for a multitude of courses such as History, Cinema, Pharmacology, Theology, Labor Relations, Sports Management, Philosophy, Eastern Religion, Architecture and more; however, my name will never appear on the papers I’ve written—not even one. As a matter of fact, I’ve completed over 12 graduate theses of 50+ pages. Again, all for someone else—and my name nowhere to be found. I’m a bonafide Ghost Writer™—through and through.

As such, you more than likely don’t know my name nor have you heard of me. I’m a sort of ‘Jack of all trades,’ a hired gun—an academic silent sharpshooter. And my customers: your students—I assure you at least one student in your classroom uses/has used my service which you cannot know for sure nor defend against since I’ve learned through the thousands of hours to write like anyone, really.

I’ve worked for my online companies since 2004, helping students who desperately need help/guidance in writing papers. The company I work for makes profits of more than tens of thousands of dollars per month by authoring (ghost writer authoring) essays that meet specific demands of our client and their instructors/guidelines. On any given academic year, I’m always working on at least 20 assignments at a time.

Since the 2008 recession, business is growing exponentially. During midterms and finals, our staff of about 50 writers are overwhelmed with the demands of students for would like our services for a nominal fee.

Your student’s actual writing and its lack of ‘good’ writing would definitely surprise you as an instructor. For example, in a world of ubiquitous autocorrect, you wouldn’t believe how often I see words like ‘desperate’ misspelled—almost as though done deliberately. Desperate, in a way, is also a great descriptor of these students seeking our services. Though many are in graduate school, they’d have a difficult time writing a to-do list, let alone a research paper requiring hours and hours of work.

My experiences in mentoring students in the process of completing a dissertation to be reviewed by a thesis-review committee or in my guidance of a grad student who is trying to get started on how to properly research for his/her paper, begs the question: How do students, who seemingly struggle to send grammatically correct emails or formulate, at times, coherent sentences, output credible and original research? How do you, as their instructor, not catch their fraudulence?

What I’m getting at is that everyone knows cheating happens, but from my own anecdotal experiences, the amount of cheating occurring is deep and pervasive. For example, in a recent NY Times about undergrads and cheating, it was reported that 61 percent of undergrads admitted to some kind of cheating—whether on exams or assignments or etc. Although there exists benchmarks to catch plagiarism such as online databases and such, these obstacles can be easily circumvented by an experienced writer.

My hope is that this essay will open up a dialogue about the failure of the educational system and the seemingly lack of oversight by instructors in deterring/detecting cheating. Why do I care? I’m retiring and feel a sense of obligation to provide my experiences in nutshell to, hopefully, improve—even if by an inch—the educational system and the instructors awareness about how cheating can happen in subtle ways overlooked and, more importantly, how the educational system and instructors can partner together to promote enthusiasm and genuine excitement about academia and not incessant anxiety, which drives many of these students to cheat in order to meet their instructors/educational system’s standards.

Once at the end of the semester, a student majoring in business emailed me about completing an assignment. Granted, at the time, I was juggling many assignments and churning out 20-40+ pages per day. I had, in the past, provided services to this student about a project arguing that an influx of unethical business ventures correlate to the patterns of trade liberalization. Her proposal was approved, and now she had 6 days to complete her proposal. As opposed to a ‘rush order,’ in which we receive top dollar for completing; instead, it was a lower-tier project since the expected time of completion was not within a day. The assignment was priced at our standard $2k, half which goes straight to me.

Shortly after completing the paper, I receive an email from the student: “…sending sorces for to use thanx.”

I didn’t immediately reply and an hour later another message: “get sorce i sent, please where you are? Despert need pass spring prjict”

Yes, I decoded her message and after her incessant messages thereafter, I explained to her I was giving her project my utmost attention—meaning I received her sources and was diligently working on completing it. I also explained to her if I had questions, I’d get in touch.

After two days since last hearing from the student, she sent over 14 emails in one night—span of 4 hrs from 2am to 6am PST—filled with additional instructions such as “…but more please make good link between the litreatur reveiw and rest of chapter. And do you think level of this work is good? how much match i can get?” I didn’t understand this one, admittedly. After some requests for clarification, we successfully communicated and implemented the changes she requested in her paper.

My point with this story is that, as I pointed out earlier, my experiences has lent me 3 types of students who seek our services. In this case, it was a student combination of being a non-native English speaker and rich to where money wasn’t an issue. I’ve noticed that colleges reward rich and forgive them for their lack of effort. Honestly, I’ve learned that the ‘best and brightest’ aren’t necessarily ethical nor the most worthy, since their resources allow them to exceed the supply of poor students—they are, though, my favorite customers. Lazy rich students know exactly what they want and aren’t afraid to detail it all out—a form of lifelong self-entitlement. The rich student knows what he/she needs to do to be on top, and paying for our services is one of them. In doing so, we’re indirectly routing these lazy rich students to develop ‘skills’ which we, as a society, value and will keep that student on top.

In contrast, colleges are failing the other two types of students (i.e. non-native English speaker and the hopelessly defeated student) in many ways. ESL students from abroad are not only overwhelmed by having to learn a new language and navigate themselves through a culture of academic conduits which are completely foreign to them. As such, evaluation supersedes education and these students must either adapt quickly or die—academically. Our services particularly facilitate ESL students to quickly navigate the confusing world of academia and ‘master,’ in a way, English quickly and efficiently. And the last type of student, the hopeless/defeated student, struggles to simply communicate in the first place.

Our client requests are always similar yet different. In the end, clients simply want to be assured their work will be completed with 100 percent attention and detail. That is what we do—that is what I do. I do whatever my client wants me to do regarding their academic requests. I almost always say yes to all my clients—then I simply complete their assignment as per request. Successful completion of our client academic needs is our mission, so no subject, course, assignment, or whether they are a graduate or undergraduate or high school student remains irrelevant. As I said before, I’m a ‘Jack of all trades.’ Also, I’m 100 percent trusted by my clients to be confidential and discreet—trusted by my clients with entrust me with their login IDs and passwords in order to access documents or online exams. In some cases, I’m required to complete blackboard discussion forums on a weekly basis.

I’m a self-proclaimed master at admissions essays for everything from undergraduate to MS/MA to Ph.D./any other graduate degree-seeking students. My experience allows me to elucidate concisely why you’re Brown or Ivy League worthy, why you’d be an asset to any undergrad or graduate program, why/how specific life experiences prepared you for your study of interest—this is just what I do, and so I know the patterns very well. If you want my help, prices are determined per page and length of time needed to complete the assignment. I will write anything—I feel I can write anything, except anything to do with math or animal husbandry. But again, I’ve written about pretty much everything in the academic world.

My favorite students are seminary students. The irony is sometimes beyond amazing; for example, I’ve helped students write essay about following in the path of God based on an universally applicable ethical model. I’ve also written tons of works about America’s moral destitution and regression in forms of abortion, gay rights/marriage, or etc. In essence, authorities see these topics as more important than the manner in which they are formulated and completed by the students.

Nursing students make up a big part of the pie of my company’s customer demographics. Nursing is a lucrative (and terrifying) career, which is why students line up by the thousands to pay me to earn them nursing degrees they don’t deserve. I’ve written anything from case-management and treatment plans to essays on nursing ethics and why NP’s are blazing the way for the future of healthcare. Also, I’ve written patient-case study reports about how best to medically treat them—hopefully these were all not real cases.

I am no one. I have neither a name nor style, yet have written/facilitated writings for almost the entire academic spectrum. I’ve written lesson plans for to-be high school instructors and to-be school administrators. What I’m saying is that the lack of quality and value of an American education is deeply rooted—not just students but also the very individuals who keep the infrastructure intact.

At this moment, thinking about the fast-approaching deadline for the business ethics paper I am to complete, I’m also thinking about what is beyond the horizon for me: In doing this assignment, I question whether I can actually keep doing this—mentally and physically. There’s the student and their expectations too, especially one’s who’ve been loyal clients. Can I still be their emergency academic life-saver? In the two days spent writing this paper, I’ve sacrificed my everyday human needs—my hygiene, my exercise, etc., all for the function I am required to do: be my client on paper but never in person.

The money and consistent opportunities keep me here. And the thrill too—I like, in a sadist way, seeing if I can muster up 75 pages in two days for a student; I like the challenge. I’m efficient, focused and organized—first, I create an outline/methodology, then research, then cranking it out with the help of caffeine.

The library though remains foreign to me. While academic ghostwriting has roots before the dawn of the internet, the days of libraries are long gone. Actually, I have never been since I started this job in 2004! If I can find a single source for something, then I can Macgyver my way into creating something, so to speak, out of nothing by integrating google scholar sources and materials, all armed with a deliberate structure and plan. I can cite in MLA, AMA, Chicago or any other format required. I’ve learned to refine my methods over the years in succinctly and with few words writing things or stretching out things in many words—whatever the assignment requires I can do it. Years of experience has deposited a mental library fully stocked with repeated academic catch-phrases, terms, words and more—I can create general sentences and just fill in the blank for different students based on their needs. I’ve got it all figured out. And I’m not tooting my own horn; not at all, since many of my clients will thank me for my cleverness or work with extra inserts, compliments, and their repeat business.

So, you may be wondering, how do you become a ghostwriter for academic world? And how can you guarantee a ‘good/excellent’ result?

To answer the former, I was drawn in out of my increasing distaste for how the educational community is driven not by what we actually learn but what is gained in physical form—a piece of paper, a degree or certificate indicating you’ve mastered that field/subject. Herein lies the problem: merit without real value is nothing.

I was raised in an upper-middle socioeconomic class, but I went to college in an underserved community. This was great for me since I fit in well. As a student, I was incredibly poor since all my funds went to tuition which left me with nothing. In order to make ends meet, I hustled my way into writing, at first, for my peers and then I moved on to wanting to write for a living—just as I was doing in college. In my own ambition, I sought to write outside the classroom for my own intellectual growth as well, which was frowned upon by my instructors when I showed them, all bright-eyed. They explained that I should stick to my classes, lectures and graduate.

But I didn’t care for the traditional classroom experience. I slept in and missed classes and would work on my assignments by myself. As I was trying to get the most out of college, I noticed my classmates and peers took notice of my writing skills and passion, which they saw value in and I was born as a ghost writer.

My classmates were thrilled to pay me for writing their papers. And I was happy to oblige. The money was too tempting, since I was a poor college student without a dime to my name. Word spread quickly about my writing, which led to strangers seeking out my help. Here, I thought: Wow, I’m a writer…

More than a ten years later, I’m still unpublished and nowhere to be found on any ‘by’ such and such on books, articles, etc. I work hard for my clients, but in the bare bones of it, I’m an unethical person—doing other people’s work for them.

It is easy though to say I’m all at fault. But ask yourself: why does my business exist and keeps growing? Why are so many students more interested in paying to cheat than doing their own work?

Say what you want about me, but in the end I cannot make decisions for anyone but myself. I am not the cheater—your students are the cheaters, I’m here to make a buck from it. And never (not once) has a student come back and said they’d been in trouble from my work.

Anyhow, getting back to my story about the business ethics paper. I spent days in my room—like a kind of suspended fly, churning out her paper. After 20 straight hours on her paper, there was a moment I felt outside myself—try it sometime, it’s not pleasant.

After I was done and my client thanked me for my work, she told me she’d present the work to her advisor and get back to me about what to do next. After several weeks, I nearly forgot her assignment entirely, until receiving an email saying she was thankful and outlined what her professor wanted her to expand on her hypothesis and focus on a specific connection to attempt to prove it.

She said to me: “What should we say?”

Hmm, I thought—we….this isn’t abnormal, students start to see me as a personal/academic counselor of sorts. In the end, her 75 page paper became a 160 page graduate thesis, with every word written by me. Although I can’t remember my clients name, its her name (not mine) on her thesis.

But that wasn’t my prize anyway. My prize was her excitement about her graduating as a result of the paper ‘she’ wrote.

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