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Friday, April 4, 2014

What I Learned Writing College Essays For Cash

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My roommate burst through the front door of the apartment we were sharing for college and virtually yelled, “DUDE!” I was staring at my computer screen drifting off into space. I looked up at him and raised my eyebrow. He had a massive smile on his face and looked like he was about to pop. “You're not going to believe this...” He pulled out a college paper from his backpack and threw it to me.

I looked down. I was confused until I saw the mark on the top. He was handing me an essay that I wrote for him. He paid me $20 to write up this two page paper for him. I was slightly desperate for money at the time, so I accepted the offer. Now I was looking down at the paper I wrote for him that was now fully graded. It was a perfect 100.

I wasn't used to getting 100's for myself. I was more of a low A student. That ended up leaving me pretty excited about writing essays for other people. That's when I got started in the business of writing college essays for cash. That's also where I started to learn my first lesson.

Teacher Expectations Matter

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Teachers change their expectations based on the student. When a C student hands in the same paper as an A student, the C student will typically get a much higher grade for it. In my experience, the difference can be staggering.

One of the things that I always kept track of was the student I was writing an essay for. I would write all of my essays to be 100% original. That means, I could adjust whatever writing I do to match certain ideas for the student. For example, if I was writing a personal essay for a football player. I would likely include a football reference. (It looks more natural that way.)

Another thing that I would always keep track of is the student I'm writing for's average grade. After that first essay, I realized how lucky we were the teacher didn't notice the higher than usual quality essay. From that day forward, I asked people what their average grade was and I tried to not beat it by much more than 10 points. So, I would add spelling and grammar errors to a C student's paper. At one point, I even asked for a sample piece of writing. At that point, I copied mistakes the student previously made. (I wanted to make sure they couldn't get caught for anything. I was pretty good at it.)

A funny thing happened though. I would be adding spelling and grammar mistakes to the C student's papers but I would still be getting a much higher grade than expected. While a teacher would latch onto the A students mistakes, the teacher would regularly overlook the C student's mistakes. Managing that strange difference was one of the hardest things I had to do.

Teachers don't judge every student on the same scale. An A student will have to provide a much higher level paper to get the same grade as a C student. Throughout my writing essays career, I found only one teacher that was a possible exception to the rule.

This can be awfully depressing for a student looking to get their grade from A to A+ material. There isn't all that much you can do to change it either. Managing your expectations is all you can really do to guarantee you're satisfied.

The teachers weren't the only ones that made it a challenge though.

How To Be “Smart”

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One of the most obvious observations in my time writing essays was the typical essay buying student. First of all, virtually no traditionally “good” students bought essays. By good students, I'm referring to the kind that doesn't skip class. If a student makes the time to get to class, they seem to be dedicated enough to write their own essays. That, however, did not make much of a difference in the grade averages I saw. Some students coming for essays were getting A averages despite traditionally lazy approaches.

The difference between these A students and the failing students was usually pretty obvious by after one question, “When do you need the essay?”

The failing students would virtually always need the paper completed by the next day. The lower the grade average, the more likely a student is to come buying an essay at the last second. The A averaging student's would often give me 1 or 2 weeks notice in advance. In reality, I wrote them in a single night anyway but it was odd to watch how their priorities affected their grades.

Take note of that major difference in strategies and results. The higher scoring students appeared to be just about as lazy as the low scoring students. The major difference was how well they planned their laziness.

You Sell The Sizzle

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After writing a few hundred papers, I started to see when the teachers loved an essay, and when they didn't. The results were pretty obvious but it took me a while to completely understand them. Great essays are not necessarily normal. The majority of my best grades came from the times I took a leap of faith and did something horribly unusual with an essay.

For example, one time, I was supposed to interpret a poem for a student's class. I was given a list of poems that I could choose from. I, naturally, decided to take the poem that was only 4 lines long. With that poem I ended up writing 4 pages of interpretation. (Not only that, but I did it well.)

Writing essays for teacher's is basically just marketing to the teacher. If you don't differentiate your essay from the piles of other essays on their desk, you're not going to be able to get a top notch grade. Boring doesn't sell. In fact, the only reason the teacher even reads boring is because they have to.

Don't go into writing an essay without making something notable happen. You can read more about this in my article about how to write a good essay.

Writing a great paper is not about following the prompt more strictly. It's about taking an idea and running with it.

My college essay writing career only lasted a couple of years. Eventually, I realized that the money wasn't quite worth the hassle. I had plenty of other opportunities I had to pass up on if I wanted to keep paying my way through college with essay writing.

The most common questions people ask when I talk about these days come down to ethics. Was writing those papers for those students ethical? Ultimately, I don't know. Fooling the college never really bothered me. The only part that really got to me was having to regularly deal with the same desperate students never learning their lesson. It seems like some of the same students would “want” to do their paper but end up desperate and needy the night before it was due. They would have the time to complete the work but they'd be scared of their own score.

Don't be one of those students.

It doesn't matter how poorly (or great) you've done in the past. You need to be willing to take the risks to learn. The school will punish you with red marks and a low grade but forget about that. Grades only matter to the school. What matters is how you take those red marks. Some students get upset and lose hope. Others ignore them and pretend they never happened. The students that do well in life, not just school, are the ones that take those red marks and do everything they can to never let them happen again.

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