Student Perspective: Why People Cheat

By Abbosbek Adxamov ’16

Cheating is noticeably common among high school students. Those who cheat are aware that it is wrong and yet, still do it. But why?

There are many ways to cheat, and there are also many reasons why people do it. Cheating occurs in many forms; students usually share papers, copy off someone’s work and not give them credit, buy term papers online or even sell their own work to others. Because there are so many ways, cheating is widespread among high school and college students. This issue should be administered to more closely by faculty, parents and the school in general to reduce widespread academic dishonesty.

Learning is not the main focus for students anymore–grades are. Colleges are now harder to get into than before and many cheat their way into college. According to a 2010 study from the Josephson Institute of Ethics, 75 percent of high school students cheated on tests and other assignments.  Standardized tests and finals are more weighted in high schools; therefore students are in more risk of cheating.

“If I saw someone cheating in class I wouldn’t tell anyone because I was in that position at least once in my life,” said Wendy He ’16. “If I was having trouble with a problem and I knew someone had the right answer, I would cheat because I’ll get points off if I don’t get the right answer.”

However, cheating does not stop there. Dishonesty is also common in colleges such as we’ve seen in the Air force Academy and Harvard.  These schools are some of the most competitive schools in the US containing the top students of the nation. This shows that getting to the top requires motivation, leading some to cheat their way up.

Getting into top colleges and later landing great jobs are also the reasons one might cheat. In today’s world, competitive jobs require high levels of education. Ones who cheat through high school and college will probably also end up cheating in their jobs and breaking the rules. According to another 2009 study from Josephson Institute of Ethics, high school students who cheat have a higher chance of lying to their bosses and other employees. When there are higher stakes in the competition such as money or any other profitable end, people are more likely to cheat. Cheating in jobs may possibly cause the loss of credibility of the college degrees.

“The person will be more dependent on someone else to complete tasks required from their job,” said Joel Arulanantham ’16. “So cheating in high school and college will only make the person lazy and less responsible.”

Preventing the issue of cheating requires cooperation among parents, faculty and the school. Parents should closely watch their child’s education and support them to prevent any dishonesty. Teachers should be responsible for preventing cheating in class such as copying answers on a test. In Midwood, most English teachers help educate students and prevent plagiarism (both intential and not) by beginning every semester with a lesson on plagiarism and citing sources.

“I’ve caught my students cheating before and they had an automatic zero, which is clearly states in the contract,” said Ms. Margaret Desimone, “I also contact the guidance counselor, who then contacts the parents and follows up with the student.”

Some may argue that cheating is only caused by laziness and is always the student’s fault. However, there are many other justifications for cheating including heavy workloads and peer pressure, especially when the class is focused mainly on grades. Also, there is a higher chance of cheating if the teacher is unfair or careless. Once students cheat for the first time, they don’t find cheating immoral anymore and so continue doing it, according to from a psychological research.

“Participating in extracurricular activities that are time consuming can lead to exhaustion and desperation when doing homework,” said Allison Morris ’16. “At one point the student makes a decision between academic integrity and sleep, and sleep is priority for teenagers.”

Students feel the urge to cheat and are sometimes dishonest. Technology, minimal support from parents, unclear procedures to cite and give credit to sources, and a grade-focused environment can cause the spread of this issue. Preventing academic dishonesty is crucial for the future of our generation and requires cooperation from students, parents and schools.

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