One of them may or may not be money.
By Bria Jones, Georgia Southern University
Students, let’s be honest: At the end of each semester, you want nothing more than to just get rid of any and all traces of the past four months.
You want to sell those overpriced text books back (for just a fraction of the original price, unfortunately), trash old assignments, delete essay files and enjoy your break with the peace of mind that comes with successfully making it through a semester. One down, x to go!
But wait, take a couple of steps back. Believe it or not, those old essays could really come in handy later. All of your essays, good, bad and ancient, can be beneficial to you. So, before you take a match to that stack of hard copies and hit the delete button on your laptop, think about how your essays can be repurposed post-course. A well-written essay is so much more than the A that you received for it.
One of the best reasons to keep your old papers is to incorporate them into your portfolio. Some students, mainly Writing and English majors, already keep their great essays to be used in portfolios, as a good writing portfolio can be used to impress future employers or admissions representatives for your graduate school of choice, but it’s a good idea for everyone. You can use your portfolio to exhibit growth in writing, or you can use it to showcase your absolute best works; sometimes, people do both. Students of any major can use a tidy portfolio, along with their resume, to show that they are the real deal and that they know what they are talking about.
Your portfolio does not have to be a folder full of paper either; many people take to creating online portfolios, and there are plenty of websites that help with creating them. Having a goal and layout in mind are important, for online and hard copy portfolios alike. More tips for general portfolios can be found on The Balance, Clippings and Chron; field-specific tips are a quick search away. Online or not, a portfolio is an essay writer’s best friend.
In addition to making for winning portfolios, your good writing can be used for scholarships. Putting aside the ever-repetitive “Why do you deserve this scholarship?” and “What are your academic and community achievements?” essays, there exists a handful scholarships that just want to see how you write. These scholarships will accept an essay about pretty much anything, and, in some cases, they are perfectly fine with you reusing essays (from school or other scholarships). Those are the golden scholarships.
Similarly, old writing can be used as writing samples for employment. At risk of being a little too specific, those looking for writing-based jobs will benefit greatly from keeping their old writing on hand. Before you can be considered for an internship or paying job, your employers want to be sure that you can write well. Putting your best piece forward (that you thankfully held onto) will save you the time of writing a whole new piece, and your old paper could be the difference between you getting the job versus someone else.
On the other end of the old-essay spectrum, there are the essays that you maybe got a bad grade on; maybe you got an okay grade on it, but you know it’s not your best work. There are people out there that want your less-than-great papers. It’s not like you’ll ever use them again anyway, so why not sell them?
Yep, you can turn your old, undesirable essays into cash. The internet is home to various websites hosted by companies that want your old essays, good and bad (placing emphasis on the bad, because you need to save the good ones for your portfolio or scholarships.) Examples of such websites include, but aren’t limited to, CashForEssays and GradeSaver. By searching for yourself on Google (or Bing, I guess), you can find more websites willing to pay you for your writing. Keep in mind that when searching, do not get “We buy your essays!” mixed up with “Hey, buy these essays from us!” Websites like those guys might be useful for you in another situation. There is a very real possibility of getting in trouble for plagiarism though, and I wouldn’t dig myself that grave if I were you.
One of these websites that I can certainly vouch for, as far as legitimacy goes, is CashForEssays (CFE). I sold them a bunch of my old essays from my previous Literature and English classes and made over $20. CFE will take an essay, lab reports, annotated bibliographies, detailed essay outlines and anything else of that sort. “Basically, writing that would be assigned in typical high school or college courses,” says the F.A.Q. page. Keep in mind that there are some simple requirements, but nothing too serious. The folks at CFE buy essays for their database-research tool; because they are indexed by Google, no one else can plagiarize your hard work. There is no payout minimum and you cash out using good ol’ convenient PayPal!
The catch? There’s a small wait time. After being accepted, your essay is put into the purchase queue. On the first of every month, a purchasing budget is set and a fixed number of essays gets bought once a day until that budget is reached. The queue can be quite long, and I waited about two months for my essays to be purchased for the first time. (CFE does have a nice little visual at the bottom of the pending essays page that lets you know how far along you are.) Otherwise, CFE is a great way to make a little bit of spending money.
Before you start saving essays for later or digging up old ones, remember not to go crazy with it. You don’t want to overcrowd your computer, flash drive or random old paper drawer. Be honest with yourself about what constitutes a good, application-worthy essay, and remember that online portfolios will save a lot of space. As for the others, when I say keep and sell “undesirable,” “bad” and “less-than-great” essays, I don’t mean essays that have big, fat F’s on them, or something you threw together in ten minutes. Those papers can totally be thrown away (or burned in a trashcan if you have a flair for the dramatics). For lack of a better analogy, I basically mean the essays that are good people, but that you wouldn’t necessarily trust with your life. Then, after you sell those bad boys: toss ’em! Toss ’em just like you were going to, but now disposal won’t be a waste.
So, are you convinced to hold onto your old essays yet?