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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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You only hurt yourself

Uploaded: Jun 2, 2015
In my last few blogs, several people posted comments with links to what I call "paper mills." These are websites that sell or customize essays for high school and college assignments or even contests like the Exchange Club Essay. This is becoming a disturbing trend.

These "cheat sites" don't even try to hide it any more. They call themselves "homework help," and offer to sell or trade papers on dozens of subjects for a fee, or to have original papers custom written for a higher fee. Often the fees these writers-for-hire charge are higher than what I get paid for teaching classes for University of Phoenix. It can be very tempting for college graduates who need the money to sell out.

It's not new. Kids cheated when I was in high school. I asked my mother if she ever cheated on a test when she was in school. She said "You only hurt yourself if you cheat." That didn't make any sense to me. How can you hurt yourself if you get a better grade in the class? "You are cheating yourself out of learning," she said. "What you learn you take with you."

Mother was a teacher. She had a Master's Degree in History, or almost did. Her Thesis was on the Brooklyn Bridge, but a book was published on it before she finished her research; so her topic was rejected .The definition of "original research," for a Dissertation or Thesis, is much broader now than it was in 1936. She got married instead and never received her MA.

The difference between getting an education and getting a degree reminded me of the story of Paige Laurie, the Walmart heiress who paid her roommate, Elena Martinez, $20,000 to do her homework and write her term papers.

That was a huge amount of money for Ms. Martinez, who had to leave USC after the first year because she couldn't afford the tuition. Instead she stayed on Laurie's payroll and continued to do her assignments, winding up with a better education than she could otherwise afford.

When the heiress was awarded her diploma, Martinez blew the whistle in an interview on ABC TV. She said she wanted to "set things right." USC revoked Laurie's diploma.

USC is sometimes called the "University of Spoiled Children". OK I was spoiled too when I attended USC for my Doctorate, but at least I did all of my own work. My father paid the high tuition, which was $90 a unit from 1974-1979.

In 1997 I moved to San Ramon to take a job as a Technical Writer for a small software company called Relevant Business Systems. I was there about a week and couldn't figure out what I was supposed to do. Everyone else was busy and hardly anyone talked to me.

I tried to learn the ERP application by practicing on the test database, but the database people kept reloading the data and wiping out my data. I asked the owner, Pat Garrehy, how I was supposed to learn the system.

He came into my office and dropped a 700 page Specification on my desk. That's when I realized what mother was talking about. I learned a lot in College, and I forgot a lot of the specifics, but pushing my brain to absorb and understand what I needed to know was the real benefit. I learned how to learn and that's what I took with me.
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Posted by JJ, a resident of Canyon Oaks,
on Jun 5, 2015 at 7:02 am

Roz, I read your blog for a long time and I often use your advices in my life. Thank you for your story and experience [Portion removed because of promoting a website]

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jun 5, 2015 at 1:31 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.


It is amazing to me that posters think they can get away with adding links to cheat sites. This time one of the editors caught it, but I will always delete them too.


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