THE BLOG

College Students: Use Essay Writing Services Strategically, Wisely

12/11/2015 10:39 am ET | Updated Dec 11, 2015

It's the end of the semester, and the pressure is on to study for exams and complete final papers. A well written research paper or essay can mean the difference between an A grade or failure. Feeling overwhelmed, you may be tempted to hire a good essay writing service to help you cross the finish line. These services are useful in a pinch, but consider this: no matter how good the service, nothing beats developing strong writing skills for yourself and your future career. In Kelley Holland's article, "Why Johnnie can't write, and why employers are mad," experts say the one critical skill that new Gen X and Gen Y grads lack is the ability to write well and at a professional level.

According to AssignmentMasters, a leading essay writing service in the UK, poor time management skills is a primary reason why students aren't ready for "real world challenges" on the job and why so many hire the service in a panic. Writing is a "threshold skill" for hiring and promoting professional employees, so if your goal is to get your dream job and climb the corporate ladder in your chosen field, use your college years to strengthen your writing and time management skills. Those tough writing assignments are like gym workouts. The more you write, the better you'll become.

An assistant professor friend of mine at a leading university in Michigan loves teaching but absolutely hates grading student papers. Waiting until the last minute to write their papers, they submit inferior work or end up asking for an extension. He says too many students lack the basic writing skills needed to perform at the college level, much less in the corporate world, and this makes his job difficult.

Companies are spending billions a year on remedial writing training for employees. Interestingly, writing is often perceived as a "soft" communications skill and not as important as math, for example. However, based on my many years as a corporate writer and editor, I know this to be absolutely untrue. Writing is so fundamental to the bottom line and so ubiquitous within the corporate culture that it's easy to miss its importance. Poor writers may be given a pass through the university years, only to suffer once real life as an employee or entrepreneur begins.

Outsourcing
To compensate for bad time management, poor writing skills, or both, some students are outsourcing their papers to essay writing services. As a writer, I have mixed feelings about this approach. There's no shortcut to developing strong writing skills, and your class assignments are designed to not only grow your knowledge base but improve your writing. Hiring essay writing services to meet class requirements is a short-term fix for skill deficits in writing and time management. After graduation, as you're seeking employment and a big salary to pay back your student loans, you may be given a writing test during an interview. Once on the job, you may have to write a white paper, an annual report, or web copy. Will you be able to write with precision, clarity, thoughtfulness, persuasiveness, and organization? Will you be able to translate technical topics or complex research for lay readers? Will you be able to write with confidence?

On the other hand, I remember what it was like to have papers due in a few hours and not enough time to do them all. Full disclosure, I've been a sucker for more than one student's plea for help. To prevent nervous breakdowns, I've ghostwritten student papers on a variety of topics. Was this cheating? Undoubtedly some will see it that way. Companies outsource writing, editing, and proofreading services all the time and it is not considered cheating, but your school will not feel so kindly toward the practice.

I'm an enthusiastic cheerleader for building writing skills and mastering the fine art, but I can't fault students for using a service when getting the paper done on time could mean the difference between failing a class, or worse, not graduating. Essay writing services should never be a crutch, but sometimes there may be no other way to make the grade.

Instructors know that students sometimes resort to using these services. It's an open secret on college campuses in the US and UK. Quiet as it's kept, some professors may actually breathe a sigh of relief when finally, a student turns in a cogent paper. Ask any professor about the writing skills of her students, and she'll give you an earful. It's truly a massive, unwieldy problem, and honestly, I can't fault students for coming up with a practical solution when they're under the gun.

To repeat, there is no substitute for learning how to write well, but maybe we can call a truce between academe and essay writing services. I offer the following new ways to think about how these services could actually help students develop their writing and time management skills.

1. Commit to smarter use of your most valuable campus resource: time! Students learn the hard way that time truly is money when they hire a writing service. Juggling multiple class deadlines, work, family responsibilities, and more is a learning experience, and everyone needs a helping hand now and again. Prevent last-minute problems by scheduling your activities at the beginning of each semester, and stick to the schedule! Only use an essay writing service once a semester or once per school year as a lifeline to an excellent grade.

2. Write your paper, then send it to a writing service to have it edited. You can learn so much from having your work professionally edited. If you take the corrections to heart and apply what you've learned to future papers, you will become a better writer.

3. Don't just turn in the professionally written essay to your instructor. Read it first. Rewrite it in your own voice. Study how the paper was organized. The best services have great writers and editors on staff. Some even use college professors! You could learn so much about the craft of writing from these professionals. Since you're paying for the service, you might as well learn as much from the experience as possible.

4. International students, you may be wonderful writers in your first language, but you'll still need to master writing in English if you're attending schools in the US, UK, Canada, or Australia. You may be tempted to use essay writing services because of language differences, but I encourage you to strive for writing mastery. Use a service to edit the papers you write yourself.

Next semester, set a goal to manage your time more wisely. Don't wait until the last minute to write. Quality writing really means rewriting, editing, and proofing, and that takes time. I promise you, when you turn in quality papers and receive the A grade you deserve, your writing confidence and self-esteem will soar, and you'll enjoy a competitive edge over other new grads who failed to develop this important skill.

CONVERSATIONS