The abysmal rabbithole of Higher Ed corruption


I’ve written before the college paper writing scam, where a significant portion of college papers are written by ghost writers. Every few years, one of these ghost writers “spills the beans,” exposing just how easy this is to do.

Back when college classes had 25 students or less, when faculty weren’t teaching half a dozen or more such classes a semester, it wasn’t nearly so easy to do this. Faculty had time to ask for a few “in class” writing assignments…a student who was barely literate in class will have a hard time explaining those eloquent papers submitted from home. Now that classes are huge and workloads heavy, a professor really doesn’t have time to assign much writing, and certainly doesn’t have the time to call students in for private conversations about the material of the papers they’ve submitted.

This isn’t just at the undergraduate level; I’ve seen quite a few PhD-holders, English as their first language, who can barely compose a coherent paragraph…I suspect the problem is common enough that this is the reason I never see a campus faculty message board.

Anyway, a few years have passed, and so it must be time for another ghost writer to come forward. Gentle readers, I introduce to you Jaimie Leigh. I don’t completely buy everything she has to say…but nevertheless I’ll add some details:

I think a lot of people seriously have no idea how thoroughly the system is rigged. I spent several years as a for-hire writer who couldn’t afford to turn work away. This means I accepted a lot of jobs I feel icky about now, but it also means that I’ve seen firsthand how this all shakes out.

The for-hire paper writing business isn’t just for college, high school students also need “help,” particularly when it comes time to submit writing samples to those few campuses with admissions requirements.

See, getting little Asshole McGloatyFace III into Harvard is just the first domino en route to prestige and pedigree.

She’ll refer to McGloatyFace often in her rant, and tries to make it a racial thing. It’s really a money thing. As long as there are limited resources (in this case, college admissions), the wealthy are going to use their advantages to get more of those resources.

The richest of rich parents get him there by donating a library collection or buying a building.

Now, I don’t think it’s unfair the wealthy hiring tutors for the kids, or buying them extra books, or even by making a large donation to the school. The ranter here disagrees, but, if the school managed those donations wisely (instead of admin pouring the money into their own pockets), it could easily provide scholarships to the poor-but-qualified kids. This is, in fact, how things often worked in higher ed in times past, when schools were run by educators. Today’s admin don’t think like educators…because they aren’t educators.

Please understand, to some extent we’ve always had this system: rich-but-unqualified paid tuition, poor-but-talented got scholarships. The student loan scam killed that system, since the loans went “to everyone,” which sounded fair. Like the rich were going to take out loans…

The lowly rich hire people like me to write their kids’ essays and letters, pull together their resumes, and figure out how to make years of abject mediocrity sound good. And they don’t only hire people like me. They also hire special tutors and test prep gurus to teach their kids to hack the tests. They pull strings to get their kids special accommodations they don’t need, so they have more time to get all the math problems done on the SAT. They get interview coaches who teach their kids what to say when they go for their appointment.

The author lumps all these “advantages” together, and some of these are fraud, while others? So what if they hire an interview coach, there really is always going to be something the rich can buy which the poor cannot…it’s what makes the rich, rich.

When Asshole McGloatyFace is in school, his parents hire people like me again. Want to know how many papers I’ve written for undergraduate students? Graduate students? I couldn’t even tell you. It’s a higher number than I can remember offhand. Need a magic paper to save your grade in the class you’re failing? Need to save your half-assed thesis? I’ve done it all. I’m a better-than-average writer and I made my clients look good.

We really need to ask some hard questions about a higher education system where the professors simply don’t know their students well enough, not even at the graduate level, to tell when a paper has been ghost-written (allow me to distinguish this from plagiarism).

Of course, there’s more to it than that. I was punished for catching cheaters, and I’m hardly the only faculty who’ve gotten the memo. You can’t fail a cheater, you see…he’ll trash you on the student evaluations, and admin gets rid of faculty with low evaluations. You can’t remove a cheater from your class, because admin isn’t about to reduce the number of sweet, sweet, student loan checks coming in.

Bottom line, faculty don’t dare catch cheaters, and admin doesn’t want them caught. In a system like this, how is it a surprise that cheating is rampant?

Past this point, the author rants about how once McGloatyface leaves college, he continues to buy advantages, using his wealth to generate more wealth, which he then spends on his children to repeat the cycle.

And this is where I stop buying her story. See, there’s considerable evidence of turnover in the upper/middle/lower classes. The bulk of CEOs (70%), even at huge corporations, don’t even come from the Ivy League. Yes, the wealthy have an advantage…but it’s not insurmountable. The bulk of our professional athletes sure didn’t come from the Ivy League, either.

I should also point out: all the money the wealthy spend on coaches, mentors, tutors and whatnot? That’s employing our middle class.

But the fact remains: we really need to re-examine our higher education system which allows such a professional class of cheaters to exist.