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Academic Misconduct and Extortion: A Tangled Web That Ensnares Students, Part I

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Feb 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

No one in academia would argue that one of the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the online learning model it's necessitated, has been the surge in college students cheating. The textbook rental—and so-called “homework help”—website Chegg saw the number of STEM-related assignment questions posted to its platform (and ostensibly answered by the company's experts) increase by nearly 200% between April and August of 2020, in comparison with the same time frame in 2019.

And that's not even taking into account other forms of “contract cheating,” such as hiring a stand-in to take an online exam using your credentials or purchasing a paper written by someone else.

In response, universities are cracking down, slapping academic misconduct charges on a soaring number of students. Read on to learn more about the current state of academic integrity—as well as one consequence that many students don't even consider.

The Motivation to Cheat in College

It's easy to understand why a student would turn to an essay mill or essay bank and purchase an essay or term paper written by someone else. Many collegians are under a great deal of stress and pressure to perform well from their school, their peers, and their parents.

At the same time, college life presents a veritable smorgasbord of temptations and distractions, particularly for freshmen and international students. Both demographics may feel isolated and homesick on the one hand and eager to explore and enjoy their new environment on the other. If a student hasn't yet developed good study habits and time management skills, these factors could create the proverbial perfect storm; the student may feel that their only way out of this predicament is to turn to a contract cheating service.

Essay Mills vs. Essay Banks

If you're interested in purchasing a paper to turn in to your professor, there are essentially two routes you can conceivably go. (Of course, it's also possible to contract with a friend, acquaintance, or classmate to complete the assignment for you, whether money changes hands or as a favor—but for the purposes of this post, we're limiting the discussion to professional services.)

First, there are essay mills. In this model, the student will provide their requirements—length, topic, number and type of citations, due date, and so on—and pay to have someone else write the paper. In either case, the cost of the essay will be determined by its length, how complex the topic is, and the turnaround time.

The other option is to purchase a pre-written essay or term paper from an essay bank. These are not customized to the student's specifications—and are likely to be lower-quality writing, as well. These papers, which are often easier for professors to sniff out, are also less expensive than the bespoke variety. That makes them attractive to desperate students on a shoestring budget.

Chegg—Legit Study Service or Cheating Juggernaut?

Naturally, these can be found in abundance on the internet, through companies that masquerade as grammar checkers, “homework help” services, or online tutoring platforms. One of the biggest and most popular is Chegg. Launched in 2005 as a textbook rental service, its user base doubled in 2020, when schools switched to online learning models as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

That's because most of Chegg's business comes not from textbooks but from problematic products. One such is a file-sharing system that allows users to upload assignments and receive answers. Another is a homework help service, wherein Chegg's experts provide answers and solutions for students who are struggling with courses in math, computer science, biology, and other subjects.

Have You Used Chegg? Or Are You Accused of Contract Cheating?

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm are standing by in the event that you're concerned about the repercussions of academic misconduct such as cheating—or even the prospect of misconduct accusation. An experienced and committed attorney-advisor can help you whether you are concerned about possibly being charged by your school or have been notified of misconduct charges. Call the Lento Law Firm 888.535.3686 now, contact us here, or check out our video FAQs.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.

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