Take a casual look around the web and you’ll find many different sites that offer research papers, book reports and essays for students to download (at a price, of course), alter slightly and turn in as their own for a grade. Cheating? Most people, even some of the students doing the downloading, would say it is.
So, what would you make of the growing number of online companies that review and polish college entrance essays for high school seniors? Jay Matthews in his weekly online Post column thinks that is also cheating.
Which is a problem, at least for me. The number of online companies dedicated to doing college applicants’ work seems to be growing, and it is hard for me to see how this isn’t cheating. Colleges ask applicants to write essays so that they can judge their writing skills and get a sense of their characters and values. Paying Brentley [owner of one of the companies] $79.95 – about the going rate – to whip your 500-word personal essay into shape makes the college application process even less rational and fair than it already is. It seems like one more slip down a greasy slope into resume padding, expense account fraud and other similarly character-corroding but popular aspects of American life.
I agree, but I doubt the colleges are unaware of these businesses. In the end, the situation is between them and the students. If these ivy-covered institutions want dishonest Freshmen, they’ll choose dishonest Freshmen.