Application Frenzy Leads to Cheating
If you are applying to an American university from China, beware:
As reported recently on CNN, some folks have set up shop essentially to ghost write applications–from essays to recommendations. This is specifically focused on China, but I know for a fact that similar services are available in the U.S. and anywhere else with internet access. CNN’s narrow focus on China, a place which seems to be a bogeyman for U.S. media and politicians–at least when Russia is not on the front page–is a bit lazy. Having said that, this is a problem for many Chinese applicants, who do not understand the process and ethos of applying to a college in the United States, and who are sold a (false) bill of goods by companies promising college admissions to clients who do not understand the process. American universities view this as cheating, at best.
Cutting to the chase, my advice on cheating on college applications is simple: For those of you tempted to do this, please don’t. Do not listen to a business that promises they can fill out your application and write your essays–this is considered fraud by all universities that are legitimate, both in the United States and outside of it. And chances are these businesses are reusing materials to patch together applications in a kind of paper assembly line. Even if a manufactured application did evade detection, it will be a generic approximation of you, which means that it will not be as persuasive as materials you yourself have developed–in other words, even if you are not caught right away, the application is not likely to work at a competitive college. Because it is essentially hollow, it just won’t be good enough.
Plagiarism has long been a problem on classwork, and cheating on assignments often results in expulsion, but universities are now turning more attention to plagiarism on college applications–see the video here for more: plagiarized college applications. The most commonly used method for screening essays and other written work for plagiarism is the Turnitin service.
Instead of cheating, create a more diverse list of schools to ease the pressure, ignore the frenzy around the same 10-15 colleges everybody wants to apply to, and get some help editing your essays. Be aware that any plagiarism or fraud in a college application can lead not just to the student being rejected immediately (usually with no explanation–and you simply wasted your money and time on the application). No, a “successful” fraudulent application can have repercussions later–you will be expelled after you have already enrolled and studied, even for years, if part of your application is later found to be forged.
And please keep in mind that, while Turnitin has been in use for years in screening graduate applications, Turnitin itself was not the first essay screening program–a number of universities wrote and used their own software years before Turnitin became the go-to site for plagiarism screening–and at this point, this is a widely accepted way to deal with cheating.
The largest application portal, The Common Application, has explored using Turnitin in recent years, and though I have not yet heard of adoption for the coming application cycle, this does not mean that Common App schools cannot themselves use Turnitin on your essays–more and more do. See Turnitin’s description of their service, here: Turnitin for Admissions.
Leaving aside the practical matter of getting caught and denied–or getting caught down the road and expelled from your university–cheating is bad news on many levels, personally and more broadly.
Who wants engineers, doctors and others who have cheated their way into a profession? And who wants to secretly think of him or herself as a phony?
There is a huge gulf between using an editing service like mine to help you craft better essays and copying an essay–or having someone write on for you. Both of the latter can lead to you being expelled due to plagiarism/fraud in your application. So get some help, as needed, but use a process like mine, that is interactive and that helps you grow as a writer.
Okay, sermon over. Good luck with your apps and contact me for detailed and economical professional editing.