Cunning Academic Cheating is the New Black

Fill in the blanks:

“A close consideration of the events which occurred in ____ during the ____ demonstrate that ____ had entered into a phase of widespread cultural, social, and economic change that would define ____ for decades to come.”

Look familiar? Here you have a formula that could apply to many, many, essays written in university. Turns out they all may be by the same person.

photo credit to the Chronicle Review

The guy that wrote that formula, “Ed Dante” describes himself  as “a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary.”

Dante is a pseudonym for a guy that went to college only to find out it “was just another place where grades were grubbed, competition overshadowed personal growth, and the threat of failure was used to encourage learning.” In other words, he’s just another guy that went to college. Or he would be, except according to him he started writing papers for other people. Then he turned helping students cheat into his job – and now taking advantage of the shortcomings of academia has resulted in a lot of money for Dante, and a lot of university degrees for paying students.

The article Dante has written, published in The Chronicle Review, was apparently backed up by a review of examples of his writing as well as emails between him and students. Here’s some excerpts from the article:

On those socially inept:

For those of you who have ever mentored a student through the writing of a dissertation, served on a thesis-review committee, or guided a graduate student through a formal research process, I have a question: Do you ever wonder how a student who struggles to formulate complete sentences in conversation manages to produce marginally competent research? How does that student get by you?

On the formula for admissions essays:

I have become a master of the admissions essay. I have written these for undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs, some at elite universities. I can explain exactly why you’re Brown material, why the Wharton M.B.A. program would benefit from your presence, how certain life experiences have prepared you for the rigors of your chosen course of study. I do not mean to be insensitive, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been paid to write about somebody helping a loved one battle cancer. I’ve written essays that could be adapted into Meryl Streep movies.

On the least surprising part of the article:

I, who have no name, no opinions, and no style, have written so many papers at this point, including legal briefs, military-strategy assessments, poems, lab reports, and, yes, even papers on academic integrity, that it’s hard to determine which course of study is most infested with cheating. But I’d say education is the worst. I’ve written papers for students in elementary-education programs, special-education majors, and ESL-training courses. I’ve written lesson plans for aspiring high-school teachers, and I’ve synthesized reports from notes that customers have taken during classroom observations. I’ve written essays for those studying to become school administrators, and I’ve completed theses for those on course to become principals. In the enormous conspiracy that is student cheating, the frontline intelligence community is infiltrated by double agents. (Future educators of America, I know who you are.)

Dante could have made every word of this story up. Regardless, he points out some very stark truths about academia – there are startling deficiencies in the way things work in higher education. And once you realize it – you can either try and change the process, or play the game in your own way. And gosh, I wonder what most people do?

Here’s a link to the entire article, and of course the comments:

“The Shadow Scholar” The Chronicle of Higher Education

Explore posts in the same categories: "Intellectual" Sources, Debunk an Academic Myth, This might be Satire

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One Comment on “Cunning Academic Cheating is the New Black”

  1. dubhdanaidh Says:

    The Young Turks also had a segment on the Shadow Scholar, who is apparently in the same field as Dante.

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