With this new column entitled JOB, we will be exploring the most successful “Unemployed” occupations out there.
First up, meet the Unemployed Professors that will do your homework for you.
From one unemployed to another: How has business been?
We’ve always got room for more projects! Growth has been pretty steady for the past several years. A lot is tied to the academic calendar, of course, meaning some times are much busier than others, but that’s no different from working in a university.
What’s the most ridiculous homework request that anyone has made?
I’ve completed nearly 6,000 projects, so picking just one ridiculous request is like Sophie’s Choice. But a couple that stand out are one time when a kid asked for a very, very simple mathematical explanation, like pre-algebra-level, that was online. Not even for homework, just to help him study. Before I bid, I even said, Here’s a YouTube link, save yourself the money! But he said he just wanted a very simple written explanation and said he wanted me in particular to do it. Hey, ok. Thanks for the flattery. Hope I helped him.
This might just be ammunition for right-wing fanatics, but one of the craziest assignments I’ve ever seen was for a human sexuality class. As far as assignments go, one student – at a university where I used to teach – had to keep an incredibly personal and awkward “sex diary” with things like trying sex toys, looking at porn, etc. The paper had to summarize some readings in class on human sexuality, which is a good assignment. The personal reflection based on this diary seemed really cringe-y. I’m not sure the professor read the diary, as the instructions indicated it was for the student. But I had to read it, and I can’t un-read that. Ugh.
Most of your professors have corrected essays before. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever read?
I should have done a shot every time someone butchers the word “analysis” into yet another unintentional anal joke. Except then I’d have liver cancer.
But what really stands out to me is not the outrageous student writing and unintentionally hilarious errors, because I don’t deal with that too much. Instead, it’s the astounding instructions (or lack thereof) from professors. There’s nothing like 3 single-spaced pages pre-emptively screaming at students for grammar mistakes…when said pages are littered with spelling and grammar mistakes themselves. Or the baffling, batshit instructions. Or bad assignment design (Like: quote from10 different sources in 3 pages). It’s crazy that professors are so rude to their students. The tone that is often used to describe and assign assignments, to say nothing of feedback, is often condescending, pedantic, and full of assumptions.
Have you ever had to write a paper for a student at a school you had been at? Or for you a professor, you knew?
Yeah, a few times. And a couple times I suspected that the professor might be an acquaintance or former colleague. Ultimately, forensic detective work is above my pay-grade, and confirmation bias is real, so I usually just focus on the task and not trying to figure out the people involved.
So let’s get to the bottom of this. We’ve read something quite interesting: “You have to admit, there is a certain aesthetic perfection to a 100-percent professor feedback loop: professors producing papers for professors, who then simultaneously bemoan the grading of those professor-written papers to other professors and hate-mail other professors about said professors-penned treatises’ immortal worth in the curriculum.” What do you think about that?
I think that’s a great image. It’s a very cynical and in some ways, accurate picture of academia. It is something I think about. I guess in a lot of ways this feedback loop ignores the motor for the engine, which is the role of students and their reasoning in hiring professors to write for them. I think that that lower level is just as important. It isn’t just an amusing attempt to kick academia in the knees (which it sometimes deserves). It’s the reality of socioeconomic status and how desperate people are to hold onto middle-class status.
Has an unemployed professor ever asked another unemployed professor to write an essay for them because they couldn’t hand it in time?
Yeah, a few times I had emergencies come up, like a death in the family or an ER trip. In those cases, I was lucky that I had a friend, who is also a writer on the site, who was willing take over.
Can you explain in a very simplified way, why your jobs have been d(r)ying up?
There are a few reasons that I’ve summarized:
- Jobs, jobs, jobs or the lack thereof. The university / academic system has become profit-centered. Even non-profit universities are either subject to devastating budget cuts or totally focused on their hedge funds. It’s cheaper to hire adjuncts than give tenure. So many professor jobs are essentially minimum wage with no benefits.
- Misdirected technology. When will people stop masturbating over MOOCs? Some subjects are terrible for online or even worse, self-paced instruction. But people push it because it’s cheaper.
- Nobody values actually learning. Everything has to correlate with a job these days. Higher education is really just job training at this point, and degrees have been diluted while secondary education has become pitifully dumbed-down. So basic skills and job training are all pushed onto the college level. Meanwhile, many subjects – especially non-computer science / engineering subjects – are ghettoized. Yes, even STEM. Ask my Ivy League-educated friend with a PhD in science who couldn’t even get a permanent job teaching community college, even when her students wrote a petition.
- This is my personal conjecture, but I think that fewer academics are staying in academia. The pay is miserable, you’re constantly a political pawn, and there’s way too many students that are total loose cannons. Shockingly, few people want to spend 6+ extra years in school to toil in poverty forever. So more people are looking for jobs outside academia. You can do a lot with a PhD, but the culture is one where the PhD is the only acceptable path in the eyes of many advisors.
- The growth of universities and colleges, especially in the online / for-profit sector, have created too many graduates from poorly established (grad) programs. It has also created the illusion of professorial jobs.
Are you saying essays are useless?
Not at all. Essays are very useful. Most people sneer at the liberal arts, but as the curriculum used to be taught, learning how to think and how to learn helped develop critical minds that could work in any context. Essays focused on argument, research, and analysis are an incredibly important part of that development process because they develop universal skills. But it only works if a student has a modicum of curiosity about the world, and if the assignment itself is designed to facilitate something more than formatting and bibliography formatting.
Most college students today are just there for the credential and see actual courses as a bore. If everything is privatized, including education, then this refusal to see the value of actual education is the end point. And more cynically, a lot of essay assignments are useless. By this I mean they differ from essays themselves. Your typical undergrad essay assignment these days is nothing more than a glorified checklist of very specific sentence formulations and bibliography presentation. It’s more about the formatting and compliance than it is about the content. So, the inane, dumbed-down, practically scripted nature of undergraduate essays, as well as the really arbitrary ways they tend to be graded, do not achieve the purpose of developing critical thinking or useful skills. If you can pass an essay just by meeting the formatting and citation requirements, then it is useless.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to be admitted into an Ivy league?
Make sure you win the birth lottery. You’re going to need rich parents who went there, too. If you can’t, begin preparing from, approximately, birth.
Let’s stop being serious, Have you every got ask to write anything else than a school paper? Like an erotic novel (That’s only wishful thinking here)?
Oh, I wish I could write an erotic novel. Every few months, some Nice Guy posts and asks for love poems “to impress girls,” (direct quote) but I don’t think they’ve ever followed through with the projects (you can post for free, but to move forward you have to pay).
On the site, I actually do lots of innocuous projects. I do tons of resumes, CV’s, business writing, website content, flashcards / study guides, and editing or proofreading.
One time, someone wanted a ghost-written book that they planned to self-publish. It was a book that did not need to be written. Think something along the lines of a long, long, long discussion of a well-known and scientifically validated household cure for a mild health condition. The person was very happy with it, but as far as I know, it’s not topping the charts on Amazon or anything.
Once I wrote a letter to this poor kid’s landlord. He had just moved to [the English-speaking country where he was]. He was in a duplex and the neighbors were just being horrible. But he felt he didn’t have the English skills to bring up the issues in a professional manner. I hope he got those people evicted.
Do you still get excited when you are well graded?
Absolutely! I care about my clients, and I take pride in everything I do. I really, truly want my clients to succeed.
Is there a platform that grades papers for professors who don’t have time to grade papers?
Yeah. It’s called “TA’s.” It’s been around a while.
I’m out of questions. Could you come up with one for us?
Can you write a five-page essay comparing a formative moment from your adolescence to Erikson’s stages of development? Use APA format and turn it in by Tuesday. For extra credit, re-write it as a sonnet.
(if you need help, I know this site…)