The Shadow Scholar
How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat
By Dave Tomar
(Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781608197231, 272pp.)
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
Categories: Personal Memoirs
Last fall, a writer using the pseudonym Ed Dante wrote an explosive article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, confessing to writing term papers for a living. Technically, they are "study guides," and the companies that sell them-there are quite a few-are completely legal and easily found with Google. For about $10-20 a page, Dante's former employers will give you a custom essay, written to your specifications. During Dante's career, he wrote made-to-order papers for everything from introductory college courses to Ph.D. dissertations. There was never a shortage of demand.
The Shadow Scholar is Dante's account of this dubious but all-too-relevant career. In stories embarrassing, absurd, hilarious, and ultimately sobering, he explores not merely his own misdeeds but the bureaucratic and cash-hungry colleges, lazy students, and even misguided parents who helped make it all possible.
With unemployment pushing 10 percent and many college grads living with their parents, the need for this book has never been more urgent. As this bitingly funny memoir reveals, colleges and graduate schools are victims not merely of tough economic times but of a profound sense of entitlement and apathy. Here is a searing, often maddening indictment of the big business of college.
Dave Tomar is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer and a graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. In 2010, Tomar authored an article entitled "The Shadow Scholar" under the pseudonym Ed Dante. The article, detailing his decade of experience as an academic ghostwriter, highlighted the issues of cheating and the need for reform in higher education. "The Shadow Scholar" became the most read article in the history of The Chronicle of Higher Education and received special citation from The Education Writers Association. Dave Tomar has also been a regular contributor to The Perpetual Post.
"A fascinating exposé of the remarkably robust industry of academic ghostwriting. [A] harrowing indictment of the modern American university's current shortcomings as a meritocratic, credentializing institution, much less a home for mental and moral growth."—Wall Street Journal
"[A] stunning tale of academic fraud…shocking and compelling."—Washington Post
“A cautionary tale worth pressing upon any freshman.”—The Onion AV Club
“What could have been a depressing tale becomes, in Tomar’s hands, a funny and charming read. It’s a light romp through what one might ordinarily think of as one of the world’s worst jobs. Despite this lightness, The Shadow Scholar is ultimately an indictment not just of the paper mill industry but of the contemporary higher education system, which allows the industry to flourish.”–Washington Monthly
“Not only does the book offer a rather startling behind-the-scenes look at what is a surprisingly big business, it also delivers a highly personal, highly savage indictment of the American higher-education system.”--Booklist.com
"Don't tell, but I would gladly pay Dave Tomar $10 a page to write my next book."—Anya Kamenetz, author of DIY U and Generation Debt
"Important and utterly engrossing. What do we expect from colleges, and what are we really getting? Can we still put our faith--and massive quantities of money--in higher education? Dave Tomar may distract us with great bar-room storytelling, but while we're laughing at the punchlines, he's snuck in some profound questions we've all got to answer."—Howard Megdal, writer-at-large for Capital New York, author of Taking the Field and Wilpon's Folly
"Hunter Thompson has been reborn as Dave Tomar, the Shadow Scholar, and he's writing college term papers for money, and telling us how and why. He may be bad news, but he's very good company. Read it and weep. Read it and gnash your teeth. But read it."—Mark Edmundson, author of Why Read? and The Death of Sigmund Freud