College has become increasingly competitive and students often find themselves with little time to accommodate all of their social, professional and academic obligations. As the semester progresses and stakes rise academically, time starved students feel the pressures of deepening subject matter, midterms and finals weighing heavily on them.  One industry has recognized this sometimes desperate situation, and business is booming for companies offering college essay writing and homework services for students who are looking for an easy way out. A simple Google search for “do my homework for me” or “write my essay” yields hundreds of online companies all claiming to earn you an “A” grade for a price. From writing papers to taking a full online class for you, the menu of shortcuts available to students has everything they could possibly want on it. Are the promises of papers written by an expert in the field for $99 simply too good to be true? Almost universally, yes, with a vast majority of these companies knowingly preying on students who find themselves in desperate situations.  

In spite of the obvious ethical issues involved when students pay someone to complete coursework, the trend is growing at an alarming rate. Over the past three years the number of reviews in this category on Sitejabber has increased by more than 1000% to over 16,000 reviews. We have compiled a list of the potential pitfalls and most common complaints left by our users to help students avoid turning a desperate situation into one far worse.

  1. Low quality work – Many of these companies are based in and hire freelancers from other countries to do the work. The person writing a paper may not fluently speak the language they are writing in and the quality of any work they produce won’t be acceptable for either high school or college level coursework. “The info I requested was written by someone who doesn’t speak or write English and the sentences made no sense. Format not followed. References not provided as agreed.” – Cathy A.
  2. Foreign IP addresses – If students hire a company to attend their online classes for them, they should be aware that most universities track the location of user IP addresses in their online classrooms. As universities ramp up their efforts to enforce online attendance policies, students run the risk of being made an example of when the virtual attendee in their seat hails from the other side of the world. This type of service isn’t as safe as some companies lead students to believe and the odds of a student outsourcing their online attendance to an online service without being discovered are slim.
  3. Don’t expect a refund, even when a site guarantees it – Instances of businesses clearly advertising a “100% money back guarantee” and failing to honor that language are not difficult to find in the reviews of those left without a useable product and hope to get their money back. “Huge rip off and $200 down the drain, should’ve known better. Sharing my mistake here so that someone else won’t have to go through the same. Requested a refund and they’ve just stopped replying, very unprofessional.” – M E.
  4. Unoriginal content – Even when promised authentic content, students sometimes receive plagiarized material that puts them at risk of being suspended from school. “There were 3 lines sited for plagiarism without proper citation. I received an F on the paper and since it was 35% of my grade, received an F in the class. I was sent to the Dean’s office and given 6 months academic probation. DO NOT USE THIS SERVICE!!! I NOT ONLY GOT AN F AND ACADEMIC PROBATION, I LOST $1000 FOR THE PRICE OF THE CLASS!!!” – Shana K.
  5. Assignments being delivered late or not at all – Some sites claim they will  deliver an essay or assignment on or before the due date, but when the date arrives students are left frantically trying to finish the work themselves. ”I got my order after the due date, and when I read it, I found that instead of refining it they ruined it. Not satisfied at all.” –  Eve G.
  6. Malicious threats – The most disturbing recurring complaint is that an alarming number of services that make threats to and occasionally do report students to the university. This typically happens when a student is unhappy with the service they were provided and have requested a refund or when a student posts a negative review about their experience online. It is important for students to understand that if any issues with these services do arise, there is very little action that can be taken against these companies. One Sitejabber community member not only was threatened by the company she had hired but even found herself the victim of extortion. “Eventually I filed a complaint with PayPal in order to get my money back. As soon as the company noticed I had filed a complaint, they threatened to make contact with my University to have me expelled if I did not pay them an additional $100 USD.” – Kelly W.

Jane C. Owen, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Midwestern State University, believes using these services can also have a long-term impact on a student’s future. “The reasons we’re seeing a rise in the use of online homework services are many but, overall, they are marked by a general decline in the writing ability of US students. Plagiarism, however, is not the answer. Cutting corners by using such services has the potential to become habit-forming and breeds dishonesty. Students will inevitably get caught cheating and the effects can cause long term damage to reputation, academic standing and, ultimately, career progression.”

There are, however, many reputable services online that can help students manage their deadlines and improve their grades. Hiring local tutors that can help better understand and complete homework or assignments is a perfectly legitimate method to boost your grades. Companies such as Wyzant connect students with local tutors who are available to meet in person. Sitejabber users have written both positive and negative reviews of services such as Wyzant and the most important tip we can offer is to carefully vet the tutor in person before hiring them. Take some time to review their credentials and ask for references from other students. Other options include companies such as Udemy which offer additional educational support in the form of online videos and lectures on a wide variety of topics from calculus to essay writing.

College can be incredibly demanding and difficult at times. We hope that by illustrating the potential issues and consequences that can arise when students take shortcuts like paying online services to do their coursework, they can avoid being taken advantage of and instead find positive resources to help them through those stressful and challenging courses.