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Probably 80 percent of what you learn in college has nothing to do with the curriculum. The first glance at a $300 textbook gives you a brutal early lesson in market monopolies, and having your first roommates will teach you valuable lessons in conflict resolution, human sexuality, and the importance of good hygiene. So when our source, "Joe," started his own business secretly writing papers for other students, he got a whole side education in human behavior he never expected.
Note: If you get caught doing this shit, you'll get kicked out of school. Do not take any of this as a recommendation. Still.
If You're Willing To Cheat, You'll Find Plenty Of Customers
Most of us don't dive into our academic career thinking, "I bet I could make a lot of money off these chumps!" (That's what the school is thinking about you .) In Joe's case, the suggestion that he start helping students commit academic fraud for cash started as a joke that stopped being a joke the moment money changed hands.
"My roommate at the time had just purchased a new copy of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and was really looking forward to a fun-filled weekend of dragon-slaying," he says. "The problem was that he had an economics paper due the following Monday, and hadn't started it because he was too busy over the previous few weeks doing things that weren't his paper. He explained this predicament to me while we were in the drive-thru line at a McDonald's. I jokingly replied by saying, 'Give me fifty bucks, and I'll write it for you.' He replied by telling me that if I agreed to do it, he would stop at an ATM on the way home."
Joe weighed the price of his integrity against his desire for his own copy of Skyrim. and it didn't take long for him to make his decision. After all, his roommate assured him "[the] professor only assigned it out of a university policy [that] was really only looking to see if you can write in English coherently." Besides, the people of Skyrim were counting on them to take care of its dragon problem. Pretty soon, word of Joe's services spread, and he developed the kind of regular clientele that a legitimate freelancer writer would kill for:
"My roommate/first customer was in a fraternity at the time, and soon enough, word of his violation of the Academic Honor Policy spread to his brothers. During the weeks after my roommate turned in his/my paper, some of his brothers would get into contact with me asking if I could do the same for them. Liking the idea of extra cash in my pocket, I told them all yes."
The less dollars in the hands of frat boys, the less poo dollars in the streets. It was a public service, really.
And here is where you find out that the whole "broke college student" stereotype only applies to some of us.
You'd Be Shocked At What Students Are Willing To Pay
Joe hit a snag when he realized that the initially randomly chosen price of $50 was all too affordable to these supposedly broke college students, and he was so flooded with orders that he couldn't keep up. "I decided to set a rate of $100 per thousand words, and have a policy to not accept any assignments less than that." See? Already he'd learned a semester's worth of lessons about supply and demand.
As more and more customers came to him with more and more ridiculous requests, the need for setting more policies became apparent. "One of my regulars came to me asking if I could write his 1,500-word English comp essay," he says. "I asked him when it was due, and he simply told me, 'In three hours.' I had to turn him down obviously, and to this day I still don't know if he managed to turn that paper on time."
What kind of person resorts to this kind of (very expensive) cheating? For the most part, it's exactly who you'd expect: "They were mostly a combination of spoiled rich kids and irresponsible frat boys," he says. "They were the kids who took only what they felt were the easiest classes they could and put more time and effort into planning out themed parties on the weekends [and] stressing out more over who's going to drive around their intoxicated asses on Saturday than they did over finals week. Most of my customers were the kinds of kids who believed that you can make any problem go away by throwing money at it, the types that probably never had to do things on their own growing up."
Alessandro Liguori / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images
They'll be lost when their family runs out of money!
. God, we hope their family runs out of money.
But then you had the overachievers who were in over their heads, students who had actually taken on too much work and had to choose between letting their GPAs take a hit (clearly not an option) or do some creative outsourcing. These were the students who felt so guilty that they needed to rationalize their choice to themselves and even to Joe, who couldn't have given any part of a fuck as long as they had the money.
"I'd constantly get the 'I have work' or 'I was sick this whole week' stories," Joe says. "A client of mine once gave me his entire story about how he couldn't do a paper because a tree fell on his car. To this day, I don't know if this was actually true [or] how that would stop you from completing an assignment, nor did I really care about any of that. He had the money and I had the time, so it was a win-win for all of us. Unless of course a tree really did fall on his car."
Bob Berg/Moment Mobile/Getty Images
"Look, I'm clearly failing this Botany midterm. The least you could do is help me pass Russian History."