It’s almost Christmas Eve, just hours away in California. And we are coming upon another deadline–The Common Application–in January. If you are applying to colleges via the Common App, and you have yet to write your college application essays, I imagine you are starting to feel the heat of essay hell.

No use kicking yourself for waiting so long. I’m sure you have some good excuses. What does worry me, however, are students who might start to consider taking a “short cut.” Such as hiring one of those ubiquitous “Write Your Essay For You” online businesses that sell essays, or even worse, copying someone else’s. No matter how panicked you might feel at this point, it’s simply not worth it. For several reasons:

1. You could get caught. Yes, you might get away with it, but is it worth taking that risk? If they do bust you, forget any of the schools you applied to using The Common App. And I imagine your name would be mud the next time you tried as well. Also, you most likely will get found out and not even know it. How? Most college admissions officers can see through a phony essay after the first couple sentences. They might not call you out on it, but your essay will land in the “No Way” pile.

2. Essays written by someone else most likely suck. This is just a guess. I’ve never seen any of the ones people pay for. But I know how hard it is to write an effective college application essay–because the most important part is that it is unique. How can someone else write an essay that captures who you are and helps you stand out from everyone else–especially if they don’t even know you. Impossible. They are hard enough when you write your own!

All you would get would be a canned essay about a cliche topic–and chances are it would be poorly written and boring. Even if you just pounded out an essay off the top of your head in a half hour, I bet it would be way better than one you would buy. How? Because it will have your voice, and be about you. In my mind, these businesses are scams. What they offer has no value, promises a quick fix, and in fact, could hurt you. Don’t be a sucker!

3. Last but not least, it’s morally wrong. Oh yea, that. I shouldn’t even have to remind you. If you still have trouble getting right and wrong mixed up, you are going to have a tough time lasting in college, even if you do get in somewhere. There’s a reason “Cheaters never win” is a cliche.

I believe in the time it would take to find and buy a cheater essay you could have written your own. Once you figure out a topic, it doesn’t need to take more than an hour or so to write a first draft. Try this Quickie Guide and I bet you will have something on paper in no time. Hang onto your money and dignity and just write it yourself!