The Unexpected Consequences of Cheating

The Unexpected Consequences of Cheating

By: Meilan Solly

“There’s other people getting better grades than me and they’re cheating. Why am I not going to cheat? It’s kind of almost stupid if you don’t.” So reads the mentality of most high school students, including the anonymous “Joe” who supplied this quote for ABC. Over the past few years, you have probably noticed an increase in the amount of cheating happening around you. Perhaps you see your peers cheat; perhaps you are the one cheating. Either way, high school is where cheating really becomes common, and this is a major problem.

Cheating is defined in many ways: letting friends copy homework; “a cheap way out,” according to Jack Williams, a freshman; asking people for the test answers ahead of time; or “using other people’s knowledge,” as junior Grace Pretre phrases it. The difference between how students and teachers view cheating varies. “It depends on if [students] see it as a form of borrowing or what it really is: lying,” says Mrs. Cadang-Kristan, an English teacher. Overall, however, most people know the general definition of cheating.
If the definition and consequences of cheating are so widely known, why do people still participate in it? Williams thinks it’s because “things catch them off guard. They forget about [assignments] and they’re not prepared or they have no energy.” Mrs. Cadang-Kristan adds, “Students are overly scheduled, so they resort to cheating. [They think] it’s the only way to fit a large number of assignments into a finite time.” A third reason is explained by Kyle Haberman, a sophomore. He says that some students cheat because they “didn’t understand the homework and the teacher didn’t explain [well].”   Also, many people’s main goal in high school is to get good grades so they can make it into the college of their dreams, which is why, according to a poll called “Who’s Who Among American High School Students,” 80% of top students in the country used cheating as a way to get to the top.
The reason why people cheat is fairly concrete: everyone wants to succeed. The morality behind cheating is not, however, so clear. Do students who cheat think what they’re doing is morally right? Not according to Williams, who says, “[Students] don’t think it’s okay, but they have to do it anyway,” because they’re more scared of their parents finding out about their bad grades than getting caught. Results on the opposite side of the argument are found in the “Who’s Who” poll. Over 50% of students questioned didn’t “think cheating was a big deal.” Haberman agrees, saying, “It’s not that bad if you do it [because] you needed help.” ABC News reinforces the point, explaining that many students believe “cheating in school is a dress rehearsal for life.” In the end, however, Pretre summarizes the view most people hold: “[Cheating] really is not right. [You] should know the information.”
While cheating may result in good grades today, it has negative effects later in life. “[Cheating] leads to bad habits,” Haberman says. Williams adds it “is getting you nowhere. You haven’t learned.” Also, the Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics found in a 2010 study that “people who cheated on exams in high school two or more times are considerably more likely to be dishonest later in life.”  Mrs. Cadang-Kristan says, “Cheating is insidious. [You] don’t think it harms you until you’re assumed to have mastery and you don’t.” She also explains that once students graduate college and start looking for jobs, they don’t actually possess several of the skills necessary to enter the workforce. Many employers want writing samples from possible employees, and “if you’ve been cheating your whole life, you don’t know how [to write well].”  Mrs. Cadang-Kristan emphasizes that there are “no second chances. The bottom line is that your life will be exactly what your efforts put forth.”