"Student pays $2,000 for others to do his schoolwork "
Gilbert Hammerman* paid his way through college. Not in the sense that he paid his own tuition or took out loans to receive his college degree.
He paid his classmates and friends to write his papers, take his online courses and complete his projects.
Hammerman spent $2,000 during his junior and senior years to graduate. He paid four current UB students so his grades would be high enough to pass his courses and receive a bachelor's degree. Hammerman wouldn't have walked across the graduation stage in May 2013 if he hadn't found students to do his work for him. He said he knows many UB students who do the same and are thankful that there are people willing to do other students' work for money.
"I mainly got the money from stocks and working," Hammerman said. "I would have gotten horrible grades if I attempted to do the work myself. I actually failed a few classes the first time around. Only after enrolling in the courses again, and having other people do the work, did I finally pass."
Hammerman placed a greater value on working and gaining professional experience in the field he actually wanted to pursue rather than, for example, learning how to program a robot in computer science class and writing a paper about the effects the Internet has on society.
"I was never going to use those lessons taught in lecture halls in real life," he said. "So why waste my time and energy attempting to get A's when I could pay someone else to do that for me and focus on what I really needed to focus on?"
Hammerman's parents were aware he was paying others to do his work. He said they didn't mind, as long as Hammerman graduated with a diploma and degree in his hand and didn't get caught.
When his mom met one of the students who helped Hammerman get through college, she hugged and thanked her. Hammerman's mother said: "Honestly, thank you! [Hammerman] would probably still be up in Buffalo if it weren't for you!"
Hammerman went to a performing arts high school in his hometown and said he was never formally taught how to write a paper with a proper thesis, body paragraphs, conclusion and bibliography. He said jumping right into the college writing atmosphere was difficult.
While he was in college, Hammerman worked two jobs in the music industry, which is the type of job he's looking for back at home. He wished to keep his former job titles unidentified to maintain anonymity.
By his senior year, Hammerman was taking three online classes that he never looked at. He couldn't state the names of the courses because he didn't know them.
"I just gave my friend my UB information and she would log onto my UB Learns and do all the work for me," Hammerman said. "She took my tests, wrote my papers and participated in the online discussion courses. I paid her $250 per class. The three A's, which I would never have seen on my transcript if it weren't for her, were worth every penny."
Harrison Cobey*, a junior undecided major, wrote most of Hammerman's communication papers. He wrote mainly about issues in media, and the papers ranged from five to 10 pages. Hammerman gave Cobey over $10 per page after each final assignment was handed in.
Cobey said the money was worth his time until he started focusing on Hammerman's work instead of his own.
"I remember I got back from a weekend vacation my freshman year and still had 10 pages left of a 15-page paper for [Hammerman]," Cobey said. "I stayed up all night doing that when I had two finals of my own the next day. So, after that, I just started denying him."
Hammerman said if he had been taught how to write in high school, there is a chance he would have attempted to do his own work in college.
He said all he needed from college was a degree. He never cared about the lessons taught at school and consequently didn't care which college he attended.
These days, connections and work experience trump education, in Hammerman's opinion. The degree is "extra" to land a job, he said. Now that he has a degree, Hammerman said he is ready to take on the professional world.
After graduating from UB, Hammerman was excited to finally do what he wanted: pursue music and production. He said he feels "kind of stupid" for not just trying to teach himself how to write, but the time he was able to spend focusing on working in the real world rather than solving psychology statistics problems was worth the $2,000, the way he sees it.
*Names have been changed to protect the sources' privacy.