May 03, 2021

Work. Study. Anxiety and Uncertainty. All of these have seemed to increase exponentially within the past year due to the pandemic. According to the Stress in America: January 2021 Stress Snapshot conducted by the Harris Poll for the American Psychological Association, a whopping 84% of adults reported experiencing at least one emotion related to prolonged stress. Thus, it seems like life as we know it has become increasingly difficult to navigate. As a result, it may be tempting to take shortcuts to succeed in online courses. Such shortcuts may involve having others write papers or take tests. However, doing so may only create more problems than they ostensibly solve.

First of all, online courses have incorporated technologies that are more sophisticated in detecting academic dishonesty. For example, Turnitin is a tool frequently used to identify plagiarism and writing irregularities. This includes comparing written work to millions of resources online. Another example involves online test proctoring such as Respondus Monitor, which can identify suspected instances of using crib notes or receiving help from others. These tools are regularly updated to capture even subtle cases of academic dishonesty. Higher ed institutions are using these technologies to crack down further on academic dishonesty.

Second, there exist predatory services that aim to capitalize on students’ anxiety. Just putting the words “Write my paper for me” into a Google search can yield thousands of results. These services are part of an industry of contract cheating. There are several online sources* that spell out the negative consequences of engaging in contract cheating. One of these consequences involves blackmailing students: services have reported students’ names to colleges if these students cannot pay the oftentimes extortionate fees charged. This can lead to failing a course, being suspended, or even expelled from college. In a nutshell, it’s better just to avoid these services altogether.

Finally, online learning is a process whereby making mistakes is expected. After all, learning is rarely a smooth process of one success after another. More likely, it involves trial and error learning, which eventually builds competence and self-efficacy. Students owe it to themselves to use this time to make use of support services so that they become independent learners and successful professionals in their respective fields.

Century offers a number of support services that can be accessed online. Moreover, students can talk with their instructors and advisors if they are experiencing challenges. The main goal is to make sure that students gain the knowledge and skill needed to succeed in their future learning and careers.

Dangers of Contract Cheating:

*City Students’ Union (2021). Academic integrity and contract cheating: The pitfalls of paying someone to do your studies for you.

*University of Sydney (2021). What you need to know about ‘contract cheating.’

*WSU Students as Partners (2020). Contract cheating: It’s not worth it.