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You gotta know that something is suspicious when that claim is part of an advertising message.

It is that time of year, when students see the approaching deadlines and wonder how they will finish everything on time. Regardless of the good intentions stated on the first day of classes, this time of year  tempts some to hire somebody to “help” with the research used to write an essay.

Today, a company wandered through the campus dropping business cards (for students to pick up) with the tagline above. It seems like a waste of effort and paper, since students can quickly and easily look online to find such help.

There are lots of ways for a student to get into trouble, even if these companies (which have existed for many decades in various forms) will not. First, faculty have various tools, techniques and technologies to discover when work has been done improperly. Our Associate Dean (Academic) publishes a regular report on cases involving  academic integrity. Given that the number of cases is more than zero, the number is depressing.

The bigger issue is: what kinds of trouble can a student get into?

Let’s start by supposing that you are not caught. So, you get a higher grade. I am often asked to provide a reference to an employer for a reference. Like one of my colleagues notes to his class, no employer asks about the student’s grades. They ask about trustworthiness and other personal characteristics.

The focus on grades is also short-sighted (which is really really stupid for an industry which prides itself on long term thinking). Research shows that it would have been easy to write that essay if you had been prepared sometime before the last minute. For example, by doing the work ahead of time. Or, by learning the needed skills, such as should have been learned in the pre-requisite class.

Employers don’t care much about grades because, even if you can fool them during the job interview, keeping the job requires being able to do the job.

Some students think that classes are stupid, unfair or irrelevant. Some students look at a degree as a credential, and seek to slide by with a C-. I look forward to seeing the criteria that these individuals use when they start hiring their own employees (or what they would do with an employee who cut corners during construction or promised the impossible while negotiating with a potential client). I wonder how hard they will work on the job after spending years of not being caught and years of “sliding by”.  If they find it hard to solve the “easy” problems posed in a classroom, how will they solve important problems?

Our small program, plus the frequent interaction with faculty, discourages that. Students looking for the easy answer are already getting into a little trouble: by the time that they graduate, their classmates know who they want to work with.

Finally, do I need to mention the consequences of cheating on your ethics test? [1] [2]