An Academic Ghostwriter, the ‘Shadow Scholar,’ Comes Clean
When The Chronicle published a confessional essay two years ago by a writer for a student-paper mill who had spent nearly a decade helping college students cheat on their assignments, it provoked anger, astonishment, and weary resignation.
The writer, under the pseudonym Ed Dante, said he had completed scores of papers for students who were too lazy or simply unprepared for their work at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels.
The academic ghostwriter has retired, and in his new memoir, he reveals his true identity: Dave Tomar, 32, a graduate of the bachelor’s program in communications at Rutgers University’s New Brunswick campus and, now, a freelance writer in Philadelphia.
In The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat, which is due out next month from Bloomsbury, Mr. Tomar seeks to cast himself as a millennial antihero while scolding colleges for placing the pursuit of money and status above student learning.
He recounts how, as an alienated and angry young man, he felt he had been “defrauded” by an academic system that broke its promises to students. An opportunity for revenge presented itself in the fall of his junior year, when a classmate asked him to write her sociology paper in return for $90, which he needed to get his car out of the tow lot. Word spread among students, and business started booming.
In the book, Mr. Tomar sometimes strains to rationalize his choices by citing a larger cultural malaise, one in which he says institutions like Wall Street can crash the economy without consequence. It is also one in which students, who have been indulged by their parents and teachers to believe they can reach their dreams despite their shortcomings, will find themselves woefully unprepared for the challenges ahead.