On Plagiarism

"Do you write essays FOR students?" The question often comes from domestic applicants (or their parents) once they learn that we have a specialty working with international applicants to US schools. This says a couple things to us: one, that domestic applicants perceive international applicants as a threat and often believe that they are less scrutinized in the process, less principled, or somehow find it easier to get into US schools than domestic applicants. The truth is the exact opposite. The international student admittance rate is significantly lowerthan that of domestic applicants and has been for quite some time. Additionally, international students face expanded scrutiny, on everything from transcripts to test scores, recommendations, and, yes, essays.

This kind of pressure can lead some applicants to make very bad choices. 

Admittedly, there is a plagiarism problem in both admissions and in the course of regular study at US universities. The ubiquity of the Internet and access to endless writing on almost any topic makes it extraordinarily easy to take or purchase essays, term papers, and opinions that are not your own. Both domestic and international students are lured by the siren song of the easy road. Schools, however, have found particularly effective means of addressing this issue, enabled by technological advances that allow them to check any piece of writing against any other submitted or published piece of writing. Use of services such as turnitin.com and iThenticate have become standard operating procedure at most US colleges and universities. Intentional plagiarism has become extremely easy to catch. 

Let us repeat for good measure: Intentional plagiarism has become extremely easy to catch. 

The pressure of higher education, especially at selective or elite colleges, can be intense. When a student is additionally applying (or completing their education) in something other than their first language, the pressures are multiplied. We heard from one Dean of Students at a top-ten university that she personally had adjudicated one international student three different times for plagiarism. Her sense was that for this student, the humanities content required by her college demanded too much outside the student's comfort zone (math and science), in too short of a period of time  - which in turn led to the plagiarism. We understand that pressure - but navigating it effectively and seeking out assistance is one of the aims of education.

There is one fool-proof solution to the pressure you will face: learning to write. 

The Matriculadies believe that everyone can learn to write well. We believe everyone can become an effective communicator, and we are committed to not only helping you learn to write but to letting what you want to say (your "voice") be heard. We will help you find your story, and help you tell it - but we won't write it for you. We will teach you to write better than you have before, and better than you ever thought you could. These are concrete skills you can take forward in your life. 

Your admissions essays are an extremely important way that colleges and universities understand who you are, how you think, what you hope and dream, and what you want to get out of your education. That, in our opinion, can't be purchased. The soul-searching and hard work necessary to produce a personal statement that results in admission to a selective college or university cannot be faked. 

Please do not try. The low-cost "consultant" that you pay to write your essay may be selling the same essay to several other students. All it takes is one "hit" in the system and all of your preparation, hard work, expense and the hours upon hours of dreaming and hoping that you and your parents have spent will evaporate in an instant.

Do not pay someone to write your essays. 

Every school provides writing assistance in the form of tutoring, a writing center, or graduate teaching assistants who meet with you one on one during office hours. We understand that this kind of help can be hard to access for logistical, emotional, and social reasons, so we offer academic writing support semester-by-semester on a retained basis for the duration of your education. 

Whether you use the writing support available to you at your school, or you retain us to help you, learn to ask for help. Your future self and your writing will thank you. 

Alexander Paschka