A wise man once said, “You can fool some people at all times and all people at some times; but you can’t fool all people all the time”. Has the Internet made it easier to fool all people all the time? Particularly, can you get away with fooling the education system by cheating using the Internet? Where once you had to “borrow” a paper from your older brother or sister to get out of handing in your own work in school, now all you have to do is log on the Internet, and thousands of free papers are available.
The number of sites that post free papers are growing rapidly. They range from sites with just a few papers to sites with thousands available. Some sites are free, some require you purchase the papers, with the assumption that they will be of high quality. The cost of these essays run as low as $17US to as high as $350 US. Other sites require you to submit your own essay to access their database.
The papers are usually too short for a high school paper. Students might have to add some of their own material to make their word quota (oh no! Imagine doing your own research!). And only a tiny minority of the papers could be used for college or university papers, the standard university paper is at the very least ten pages.
The facts are simple: handing in one of these papers is illegal. Using material from these papers without inclusion in your bibliography is also illegal. In high school it can result in suspension, a failing grade, and the general distrust of your teachers. In post secondary the risks are even higher. Cheaters can be kicked out of school, and will find it near impossible to be accepted in any other post secondary institution. Don’t think you’ll get caught? Many teachers know the writing style of their students, so any major changes will be a cause for suspicion. Also, if you found the perfect paper for your assignment, your teacher may have as well. Or other students in your class. Buying a paper may seem a safer alternative than using a free paper, as the chances that others have bought the paper is slim, it is still not a viable option for most students because of the cost. Also, teachers have the right to ask for your notes, outline, books, etc. Not having these materials could land in a lot of trouble.
I contacted Kenny Sahr, the 27 year old creator of the School Sucks website, located at www.schoolsucks.com. School Sucks is the site for free papers on the Internet, and Sahr gave me a few minutes of his time to talk about the site. We conversed over ICQ, an Internet chat program, and we discussed the value of the site. He claims he created it to expose the poor education system, and help students. But is he really achieving his lofty goals?
Can you help students when the majority of the papers on the site are less than average work? In his own words, “I think the papers suck.” What good does it do to have terrible papers on the site?
Sahr claims that “School Sucks is the checks and balance of the education system -- the papers are the result of the work of teachers. And if the papers are bad, then what does this say about their work?” Well, it sounds like a plausible theory, but upon further examination, I think Sahr is deluding himself.
A student‘s proficiency at writing is only a small result of the work of educators. Student’s are responsible for learning the work, studying it, improving it. Some students simply have more talent than others in the critical thinking and creative writing. The papers on the site are not a representative sample of what papers are being turned in at schools. Above average students will not submit their papers to School Sucks. Why? Good students understand educational code of ethics, and would not encourage cheating. They alone did they work, they alone reap the reward. Sahr’s comment that “you're looking at mediocre writers taught by mediocre educators. Its not our best and brightest going into teaching” is completely biased.
A large number of educators have lobbied to have the site taken down. There’s no way Sahr will do that voluntarily. He mentions that universities have their own collection of thesis papers available to anyone, and School Sucks works with a similar idea. Sahr feels educators dislike School Sucks because it “shows everyone the results of their work.” This is not a fair assumption either. What the site does is prove the moral bankruptcy of students. Sahr claims that the site gets over 200,000 hits a day and twice that during "peak semester times." This is more likely the result of the erosion of personal responsibility than a failing education system.
Will free paper and pay for paper sites stick around? Of course. If there’s a buyer, there will be a seller. Although the term papers that have to be bought are very expensive, they are being sold. And School Sucks has made Kenny Sahr a very wealthy man, the advertisers on his site pay him whenever the site is accessed. You do the math. Or send me a cheque and I’ll do it for you.