I read an interesting article last week about cheating. I’m talking about cheating on homework and tests – not cheating on your special someone, although I’m sure there are plenty of fun articles about that. The key points of this particular article were some things those of us in school
already know on some level, but it still wasn’t pretty to see them in print:
• The top kids tend to cheat more than the bottom ones.
• The internet is a huge source of material for cheating.
• Kids rationalize cheating to make it sound, well, like not cheating.
The Top Kids Cheat
Does everyone cheat? Probably not, but there is a lot of cheating going on up there at the top of the class. Why would these seemingly bright kids need to cheat? Because they have really smart ways of doing it! Well, that’s only partly true. Smart kids can be pretty clever about cheating, but they also have a huge amount of pressure to succeed and that pressure can make them take a few shortcuts. One study cited in the article actually said that kids in the remedial or bottom level classes cheat less and have a higher standard of behavior than those at the top who often see cheating as a means to an end.
For these top kids, the goal is at the end of it all is college. Earning a way into the best university programs and on to the next step. To get there, of course, we have to have jobs, extracurricular activities, high ranking classes, fine arts involvements and plenty of club memberships. The top kids are busy – much too busy to worry about getting every answer every time! Why not just have your friend do half the homework and you do the other half and then switch on the bus ride to the game tonight? Saves time and energy, right? Eh, wrong.
The Internet and Cheating
The internet opened up a new avenue of cheating for us. Now with the help of smart phones and internet connections, we can find the answer to virtually anything we need in a moment. Why actually read the text you’re supposed to study if you can just Google the answers anyhow? Possibly even during the test itself! Of course, what most of us think about when it comes to cheating is taking papers off the internet and using them as your own assignment.
Many companies make plenty of money doing exactly this. Unfortunately, it’s still cheating to use someone else’s work. Seeing something for sale doesn’t make it right to buy. Taking an essay and changing enough of the text does not make it right. The essay is still not your own work and if you’re caught – as many plagiarized essays are thanks to advancements in software to detect cheating, you’re risking your grade, your GPA and everything that comes with it.
So when is it okay to borrow someone’s answers? What can you use the internet for if not for some quick ideas about what to write? It’s a very fine line to walk, but always think about how you’re explaining it. Would your teacher or principal or college admissions office agree with you that the means to an end was okay? Don’t bother trying to fool yourself either.
Most college admissions offices don’t think rearranging words from a website counts as research and your English teacher isn’t likely to be fooled by the book report you pulled together from the book summary online. Sometimes you invent your own punishment by not doing the work properly in the first place – if you don’t ever finish your own homework, how reasonable is it to expect to do well on a test in the class?
Cheating is all around us all the time it seems, and if you’re thinking of taking a short cut here or there, you’re not alone. I just hope that you’re one of the few that manage to resist the temptation.