The Underground Economy
Students at Juan Diego are taking advantage of ALEKS and offering to do their peers' work for a fee, resulting in a market centered around the math program.
January 14, 2019
Would you pay another student to do your math homework? Many students at Juan Diego do, and it has evolved over the years into an entire economy centered around the math program ALEKS. Classmates are willing to pay each other to do their work on ALEKS for many reasons, and many students are profiting off their peers who are desperately trying to save their grade.
ALEKS services have become a significant economy within the school and has given students the opportunity to make “around $200 or more per semester,” according to our first source. A second student, who does ALEKS about 3-4 times a week, says they make about $170 each week that they do it. This economy surrounding ALEKS has grown to the point where students are making major profit off of it by taking advantage of this opportunity. It has even gotten to a point where teachers are aware of this economy; Mrs. Sawyer has even stated that she is aware that her own daughter used to do other students’ ALEKS work for a fee.
Price ranges for ALEKS services are all across the spectrum. Some people are expensive compared to others, and sometimes prices depend on the workload. Our third source stated that they charge “$1 to $1.50 [per topic] depending on the class they are in”. The second source said that their prices vary depending on what topics they are being asked to do, as well as whether or not they know the individual asking for help. The same source also stated that if they are asked to complete an assignment rather than topics, they will charge $15 for less than 20 questions, and $25 for anything above 20 questions.
Our second source said they began doing their friends’ homework in 7th grade for free, then a friend came to them and suggested they start charging others. For our first source, a former Juan Diego student who at first just wanted to help their friends, the realization of their financial opportunity came once about 20 people began asking them to do their work as well. Often times people begin to do their friends’ ALEKS work at no cost, then realize that they have an opportunity to make money off of it.
Although there are many students who are benefiting from either people paying for them or from the services they are paying for, some students, such as a fourth source we talked to, have never cheated on their ALEKS work, and believe that the program truly is helpful. The majority of students that were polled have heard of this underground economy, and although less than 20% of them admit to taking some part in it, the number of students that are aware of this market poses some questions about the usefulness of the program: just how much do teachers know about this phenomenon?