Remember when we used to call our moms every time we needed to know anything, like how to cook a chicken? Or how we used to consult our friends for dating advice? That time is gone for good. Now Google is the first destination for everyone, but especially the students. According to Google Trends, they ask all sorts of essential questions, like “How long can I go without sleep?”, “How much coffee is too much?”, “What happens if I eat Walmart mac-n’-cheese three times a day?” or “Can I write an essay in 3 hours?” Yes, a sleep-deprived, properly caffeinated, totally broke college student surviving on cheap food is a stereotype deeply rooted in reality.
However, recently, a new trend started emerging. Students are done suffering. They don’t want to study hard – they want to study smart. So among the most popular queries, you can see more and more questions about efficient ways to learn and finding help online.
Write My Essay: What Students Search Online and What It Says About Student Life in 2022?
The first thing one notices is the abundance of queries linked to writing, which isn’t surprising given how text-centric higher education is. This is especially true today when most schools still wait for in-person instruction to resume.
Only a couple of years ago, you relied on your writing to stand as a proxy for you during some select tests and admissions. Now, however, nearly all interactions between students, instructors, and peers are conducted through text. No wonder students have quickly developed writing fatigue and started looking for someone to delegate at least a portion of their writing tasks to lessen the burden.
Interestingly, such behavior has always been stereotypically associated with the few privileged “idle rich,” who got into prestigious schools thanks to their parents’ connections and now cannot shoulder the study load. However, this is not the reality at all.
Most often, students looking for writing assistance online work part- or full-time to pay for their tuition. Thus, they find it harder to meet all the deadlines than their well-off peers. They also cannot afford to lose their scholarship since they rely on it for upkeep. This becomes apparent once you look at the most popular searches: “Write my essay for me free,” “write my essay for me cheap,” and a ubiquitous addition of “discount code” to any other query. One can almost feel palpable desperation behind these cries for help.
The searches also show how inadequate and outdated this text-centric type of instruction is for a new generation of students, who rely more on visuals and multimedia. For example, among trending queries were “write my essay TikTok” and “write my essay free of plagiarism YouTube tutorial.” So, basically, the students are saying, “Okay, fine. I will write, but first, please explain to me how in a way I understand!”
Websites That Help Students with Writing
Answering this demand, an entire niche of online businesses emerged. These services come in all flavors: targeting students who are pressed for time, marketing themselves as budget-friendly, or, on the contrary, being high-end academic boutiques that hire professors from prestigious schools to assist you. All that’s left is to pick what suits your needs the best.
The list goes on and on. Writing services create customized samples, review and edit drafts, check papers for grammar mistakes, plagiarism, adherence to assignment sheets, and citation guidelines. In short, they do what students no longer have time or energy to do.
Some see this highly-personalized help as unethical (or unauthorized) collaboration, especially if the assignment in question is strictly individual. However, when you weigh in how much is at stake for a student (a place in the college of their dreams, international scholarship, student visa, etc.), can you blame them for resorting to help when they are going under?
However, an increasingly vocal cohort of experts defends such services and claims that using them amounts to studying smart and taking care of one’s mental health. One should remember to stay discrete and only hire the help of these services in an emergency, though. Using these tools can be frowned upon in academic circles and even earn you a penalty from your school. As we have already mentioned, educational institutions are slow to catch up. They prefer to look for the source of the problem outside rather than addressing the issues at the core.
How to Improve Your Search Skills
Another issue that experts often bring up is the surprising lack of search prowess among students who were supposed to be well-versed in all things digital. Parents, teachers, and students themselves usually assume that young people are competent searchers simply because they grew up with devices in their hands. However, spending more time online does not guarantee you skills.
Renee Morrison, lecturer and researcher at the University of Tasmania, studied how Australian students use online search over six years. She has found out that the majority of young people display the same unbeneficial patterns:
- Spending more time on irrelevant websites than on the relevant ones.
- Regularly quitting searches before finding the information they were looking for.
- Searching just for isolated facts to answer the assignment question as quickly as possible.
- Spending less than two minutes on each search.
- Readily accepting Google’s corrections from the “Did you mean” tool and dismissing relevant keywords.
To optimize their online searches, Morrison advises students to:
- Synthesize information found online: use different keywords, multiple websites, and various search tabs (news, images, scholarly articles, etc.) Otherwise, you are no better off with Google than you were with a print encyclopedia.
- Use search operators like quotation marks, AND, OR, * for missing word, ~ for synonyms, + for an exact match, etc., to narrow the search and pinpoint precisely what you need.
- Slow down and take time to consider the most effective search query and assess search results.
- Verify the trustworthiness of the website before taking in the information presented there. Take a look at the domain extension: “.edu,” “.gov,” and “.org” are usually more creditable than commercial “.com” or easily purchasable “.me,” “.io,” “.xyz,” and other novelty domains.
- Don’t agree automatically to every correction that Google suggests. Sometimes, the algorithm assumes you’ve made a mistake because your keyword is less popular than the alternative it prompts. Don’t forget that you are in charge of the search. Be more confident.
Search engines have great potential for educational benefits. In fact, studies of students’ online search strategies have linked advanced searching skills to higher grades at college. However, we must not assume that simply having access to Google is enough. We must hone our skills and learn what to look for and how exactly to look for it.