Close
Study

Essay mills: What are they, and why students should avoid them

essay mills
University students may be tempted to use the services of essay mills, but there’s a lot of risks that can come with it. Source: Christina Quicler/AFP

Have you ever been stuck on what to write for your university entrance essay, or felt under pressure with the numerous deadlines looming and have no time to work on your thesis? Maybe a friend has told you how they’ve used essay mills, or perhaps you’ve seen an ad yourself popping up on your screen while surfing the internet.

Essay mills, or “essay factories”, are businesses that offer a service to write an essay or term paper for students for a fee.

These are not your basic proofreading or editing services, but businesses where essays are written for you. They do extensive research, proofreading, citations, and deliver a final essay to the customer (i.e. you, the student), which you can credit as your own.

Essay mills are nothing new in this day and age, having started in the mid-1800s when students in fraternity houses shared term papers. Later in the 1950s, the lucrative business of ghostwriting evolved where writers wrote material on behalf of authors or celebrities. 

Specialised companies were set up near university campuses where students could walk in and purchase the services of a team of writers to do their essays for them. However, with the onset of technology and the internet, the essay mills business has mushroomed in recent years. 

Some students have opted to use essay mills to get their work done without the stress and pressure of researching and working on a paper themselves. These essay mills or essay factories are easily accessible and promoted via various social media and online platforms.

Gareth Crossman from Quality Assurance Association for Higher Education (QAA), an independent body that checks on standards and quality in UK higher education, told the BBC that one in seven college students might be cheating on their work. 

essay mills

With essay mills, there’s a risk of bribery, while there’s no guarantee that the article purchased is of excellent quality. Source: Christina Quicler/AFP

International students whose English isn’t their first language may be tempted to use essay mills due to their lack of language skills or insecurities.

Despite that, they are highly unethical and can lead to students being found guilty of plagiarism and academic fraud. Nowadays, many universities and colleges use software such as Turnitin, which can easily spot any discrepancies or plagiarism in a student’s work. 

Some are even resorting to asking students to take oral examinations if it is suspected that they have not completed the work themselves. Ultimately, it’s best for students to avoid essay mills at all costs.

Students have an obligation to submit authentic work while at university, and understand how writing and researching for a paper is part and parcel of the learning journey. 

Taking the easy option of using essay mills services is for short gain only as students are essentially cheating and taking the credit for something that another person has worked on. To boot, there’s no guarantee that the article purchased is of excellent quality or free from plagiarism.

Suppose you are struggling with writing your term paper; why not consider taking some extra classes to improve your English language skills or talk to your university professor or counsellor for some valuable advice? 

There’s nothing quite like that feeling of pride and accomplishment of submitting work that you worked on yourself. After all, as the ancient Greek philosopher Sophocles once said, “Without labour, nothing prospers.”