My First Paid Gig Writing a College Essay

writing a college essayOkay, so this post might get me some pissed off responses but I’m fine with that. I’m pretty much used to those, so before you go wasting your breath I think it’s only fair that you are made aware of how unheard your voice will be and how little I care.

That being said, I was recently asked to help out a friend of a friend from out of state (who shall remain anonymous, of course) by writing a college essay for one of his journalism classes.

What was the catch? I was asked if I was willing to do this and how much I would charge at approximately 8:00 p.m. When was the paper due…? By midnight.

I agreed to do this and told him he could pay me based on the grade he gets, since that only seemed fair. I will update this post after the paper is graded, to share the results. 

While I hadn’t actually thrown out any specific numbers to correspond with the different possibilities in terms of letter grades, I wasn’t going to accept any money if the paper received a D or F. In my opinion, that would be taking someone’s money for a job that you ultimately failed to complete. Not my style.

The Details and Assignment

But before we move on, let’s make a few things clear. Was writing a college essay something I’d been paid to do before this? No. Was it something I’d ever done AT ALL? Nope.

What was the minimum required length of the essay? Around 1,000 words. How long did it end up taking me to write the whole thing? About two hours, maybe just slightly less.

As for the topic of the essay? Well, like I said before, it was a journalism class. The assignment basically wanted an essay on any current event so long as the sources you used to support your opinion on the issue were not from mainstream news companies. Sounded easy enough to me.

Luckily, this person forwarded a couple of links to articles from approved sources for me to use and told me they didn’t have a preference for which side of the issue I chose to argue. I tend to find it much easier when I truly agree with something, so I wrote in support of that side.

The Writing Process

Never having written a college level essay before in my life, writing the first sentence was the most difficult part for me for some reason. I kept getting caught up on the wording and second guessing whether it was a strong enough opening or not.

Once I finally felt like I had a good first sentence, it became much easier from there. The process went something like this:

  1. Make a strong opening statement in first sentence that implies which side of the issue I’m on (without actually saying it).
  2. Skim first article and use key bits of information to introduce the current event and put it into context.
  3. Throw in some opinion masquerading as objective statements which follow up the cited info from article.
  4. Mention some other relevant comparisons and past events.
  5. Skim second article and repeat steps 3 and 4 again.

Since this whole experience made me terribly curious to learn more about the various online services and even freelancers who get paid for writing college essays and custom term papers, I did a little research and found this fascinating article from The Chronicle of Higher Education. It’s a peek into the work schedule of a “shadow” scholar who does nothing but write custom papers for college students at all levels and makes a good amount of money in doing so.

I have to admit, I sort of admire this guy and his attitude towards the ethics of what he does for a living. In the article, he describes a writing process similar to the one I haphazardly threw together last minute when he says:

“First I lay out the sections of an assignment—introduction, problem statement, methodology, literature review, findings, conclusion—whatever the instructions call for. Then I start Googling.”

A bit more involved than what I did in two hours, but not too different fundamentally. 

Term Papers and Essay Writing Services

I also discovered this interesting guide on buying term papers online, which reviews everything from free essay sites, to paid pre-written essays and finally the custom ordered services as well.

The author payed money to test out each one and then used three of his contacts as the judges who graded the purchased essay. Two of which teach at universities (one of which was the author’s father) and the third being his girlfriend who was a teaching assistant at a university. 

The results from each site are both interesting and a bit unexpected, as are the grades assigned to them by the three judges. While I hardly think his test run when using the custom service was fair or really all that accurate, it’s still good for a laugh or two. 

And in closing, I will say that I did ask him to add the references and bibliography and all that formatting-specific shit that I am only vaguely familiar with, at best. I also warned them to check for run-on sentences, since I’m notorious for those and advised him to chop lengthy sentences into two shorter ones wherever possible. And that was it, folks.


I have just been informed that my friend’s friend received a grade of B+ for the essay I wrote. Looks like we can consider this one a success, kids!

All in all, a lot of people struggling with writing essays sometimes need professional assistance from experts. As a matter of fact this site offers essay help for students who have difficulties in college paper writing.