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Cheating College Students Only Cheat Themselves

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Across the country and around the globe, overly cheerful college admissions counselors aim to make their school appear just as glossy as the pamphlets they distribute to potential students. If you’re a high school student who is visiting schools, you know what I’m talking about. Photos of smiling, laughing young people sitting under trees with a few books sitting on the grass beside them are placed with pictures of dorm rooms so sparkly clean that it looks like HGTV was there to decorate. Then, of course, there are those requisite shots of the new college graduates in their caps and gowns with their arms up in the air, pumping for victory to signal the end of their difficult journey.

These brochures do a good job at making things look pretty and showing the things that the college wants you to see, but they ignore most of the real things that go on behind the scenes. The brochures don’t show photos of people binge drinking at parties, and college websites certainly don’t mention the tenured professors who don’t even want to be at work except to collect their paycheck. The harsh reality that many new college students have adjusting to life away from home and becoming responsible for their own actions seems to be ignored, too.

With the help of Google, Facebook, MySpace, and various blogs, most potential students have the ability to dig beneath the surface and find out what really goes on at different schools. Technology is wonderful, isn’t it? You can learn the truth before deciding on an institution to attend. The internet is also a helpful tool for something else: cheating.

Cheating can take many different forms, and it’s certainly come a long way from sneaking a peek at the paper of the person sitting next to you.

Starting Young

Cheating can be seen in elementary school students when they break the rules to win games or have their parents do their homework for them, and things get worse from there. Nearly seventy percent of middle school students admit to cheating on tests or exams, and ninety percent confess that they’ve copied another student’s homework.

According to a CBS Evening News with Katie Couric report from 2009 almost one in four middle and high school students surveyed said they didn’t think storing notes on a cell phone or texting during an exam constituted cheating. A strong emphasis on grades and getting into college is enough to make most high school students cheat.

Students surveyed claimed that they tend to think of sharing answers or homework as “helping other people” rather than cheating.

Cheating in College

It’s now a fairly common practice for college students to purchase complete term papers off the internet. Many students simply cut and paste information from various websites – without citing the source – in order to claim it’s their own work. Some students are even brave enough to surf the internet on their laptop during an exam in order to look up test answers.

The cheating doesn’t stop there. Students have been caught using Instant Messengers such as Skype or Yahoo in order to share test answers with friends, and many use the cameras built into their cell phone to take photos of information that they expect to be present on exams. Some computer-savvy college students have even tried to break into their professors’ computer files.

Despite warnings of failing the class, a permanent label on your academic records, or even probation or expulsion, more and more college students are admitting to cheating than ever before. The site Education-Portal.com reports that in 1940, only 20 percent of college students admitted to cheating during their academic careers. Today, that number has increased to 75 to 98 percent.


Seventy-five to ninety-eight percent of college students cheat at school? Why on earth is this happening?

“It’s easy to cheat.”

“Cheaters don’t get caught anyway.”

“The pressure to be the best is too much to bear, and cheating is the easiest way to reach the top.”

“The professors don’t care or they ignore it.”

“If nobody finds out, it’s okay.”

“My school claims that they’ll expel people for cheating, but it never happens.”

The reasons and excuses vary from person to person, but one thing remains the same. No matter what your excuse, cheating is still cheating, which means it’s wrong. Unfortunately, it still happens.

Many students beef up their resumes in order to obtain a better job after graduation, but employers are beginning to notice the trend. Most companies now dig deeper into potential job applicants and their claims. If you wind up getting the job and your employer finds out what you did, you just may lose your job. Cheating and lying before you even worked for the company doesn’t paint a pretty picture of your integrity and reputation.

So the next time you think it’s okay to copy someone else’s work or use your cell phone to “help” take a test, think of this: the only person you’re hurting is yourself. Cheating is a personal foul.


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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