As a struggling writer, Nick Mamatas supported himself by writing term papers for “dumb clients,” (use simple English and underline the thesis statement), chemistry majors trapped in poetry class and well-educated immigrants with poor English-language skills.
. . . I know why students don’t understand thesis statements, argumentative writing, or proper citations.
It’s because students have never read term papers.
Imagine trying to write a novel, for a grade, under a tight deadline, without ever having read a novel. Instead, you meet once or twice a week with someone who is an expert in describing what novels are like. Novels are long stories, you see, that depict a “slice of life” featuring a middle-class protagonist. Psychological realism is prized in novels. Moral instruction was once fairly common in novels, but is now considered gauche. Novels end when the protagonist has an epiphany, such as “I am not happy. Also, neither is anybody else.” . . . Start writing! Underline your epiphany.
There’s another reason I never felt too badly about the job, though I am pleased to be done with papers. The students aren’t only cheating themselves. They are being cheated by the schools that take tuition and give nothing in exchange.
Of course, students who buy their term papers aren’t giving anything of themselves — except their credit card numbers.