Guest Editorial: Cheating, Another Student’s View

Jim Nagle, Guest Writer

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Cheating, as much as AP tests and competitive sports, is an integral part of the modern high school experience. While I don’t condone cheating, it is so prevalent, so easy, and in some cases, so necessary to cheat, that it almost seems as though the system encourages it. In today’s academic society, grades are everything. Intelligence is no longer measured by how smart you actually are, but by a number. Nowadays, when hardened criminals can beat lie detector tests without breaking a sweat, it should come as no surprise that an ambitious high school student whose only care in the world is getting .1 higher than his competitor would be able to beat a math test. A society that encourages academic skill in the form of numbers, and achieving such numbers by any means possible is a society that encourages cheating. In order to truly change this problem we must consider new ideas that would discourage students from cheating their way to success.

One of the main problems in today’s society is the concern over grades and GPA. Grades certainly matter though, and, in most cases, show a student’s skill in a certain subject. However, more often than not, grades also show a student’s ability to beat the system without having any skill in the class. The problem with grades is that they show that Bob did well in his math class. Grades do not show, however, that Bob copied off of his smarter neighbor, and was able to find the tests on an online teaching website. In order to discourage cheating for grades, schools need to offer more variety in tests given. A previous teacher of mine, who shall remain nameless, would give tests that were copied off of an online teachers’ website. Once the class figured this out, (within days of taking the first test), getting an A became as simple as heading to Google and looking up the test. Occurrences like this show not only the laziness of some teachers, but the sheer simplicity of cheating. Another problem occurs when teachers give the same test to different class periods. Inevitably, the first period tells the next period the answers, usually with the expectation of help with tests from other classes. One of my teacher’s last year told us that she expected us to stick to the “honor code.” Now, this teacher had been at her job for a long time, and seen almost everything in the way of cheating. What she did not understand, however, is that modern students have no honor; when your college education, and success in later life is on the line, concepts like “honor” and “playing fair” go out the window very quickly. If teachers don’t want students to cheat, they can’t give them the opportunity to do so. It may require extra work to write up different tests, but at least they can sleep at night with a clean conscience, knowing that Johnny will not be going to Harvard by cheating his way through high school. On a more personal note relating to colleges, I would like to call BS on the old saying: “You may be able to cheat now, but you won’t be able to in college.” If anything, cheating will be easier in college, albeit with harsher penalties for getting caught; students will likely be in a large lecture hall with 200 other students. It is unlikely that the professor would even know individual names, and for a former high school cheater, finding somebody on campus to help would be quite easy.

If teachers are unable or unwilling to put in the extra man-hours to create different tests, then the system must give students less motivation to cheat. For starters, college application essays and entrance exams should be worth significantly more in terms of value. The essays should be written by the applicant in the admissions office, to ensure no outside help is present. In this way, colleges would be able to better judge a student’s skill rather than going off of a possibly undeserved GPA. Additionally, a basic IQ test should be administered to all college applicants. While critics argue that IQ tests do not accurately represent intelligence, they do give a pretty good idea. For example, if Mary scores a 90 on an IQ test, but maintains a steady 4.5 GPA, colleges should be suspicious, and rightfully so. How could a person who is considerably below average in terms of intelligence ethically maintain such an excellent GPA? (Hint: She didn’t.) If students knew that basic intelligence counted a lot more than a good GPA, there would be a lot less motivation to cheat. Comes less motivation to work; if I know I’m smart, and GPA isn’t worth much to colleges, why should I try? In order to combat this, colleges and high schools should not tell students about the decreased worth of GPA. This way, students will go ahead believing in the importance of grades, and colleges will be able to weed out cheaters. While this may seem unethical, it must also be remembered that students do far worse in their efforts to land a spot in the college of their choice.

The problems with cheating inherent in today’s academic society are astonishingly apparent. In today’s world, where numbers and statistics mean everything, students will go to extraordinary lengths and resort to reprehensible practices in order to achieve a good GPA. In order to prevent this, teachers must be more diligent in creating assessments on which it is more difficult to cheat, and colleges must give tests to applicants that can judge basic intelligence in order to determine if the high school grades were determined ethically, or by cheating. Until this is done, and even if it is, cheating will remain an inherent part of high school life.

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Jim Nagle, Writer

Jim is a senior and this is his first year in Journalism. He enjoys writing and expressing his opinions and is a sad fan of the New York Jets. In his free...

3 Comments

3 Responses to “Guest Editorial: Cheating, Another Student’s View”

  1. Anonymous on January 10th, 2013 2:04 am

    You actually can’t really cheat in college. Have you ever attended a college before? Why are you assuming that college classes are only huge lecture halls with tons of students? There are so many different types of colleges and those colleges have so many varying types of classes. There could be small classes where the professor knows everybody’s names. It’s comical that you think that students will be able to keep cheating under your blanket statement that most colleges have huge classes only. Also it would be very stupid to cheat in college because the knowledge you learn is often very instrumental to your career.
    Also this article takes itself very seriously and puts too much blame on teachers who are notoriously underpaid and overworked. Calling a teacher lazy while reasoning that students shouldn’t have to be moral is a ridiculous double standard and shows that you have a very narrow minded point of view, a point of view that only speaks for students. This article came off incredibly biased and self absorbed, with no thought as to other views. Educate yourself and think before you speak your mind.

  2. Anonymous on January 11th, 2013 10:42 am

    Wow. Okay, let me address some of your points.

    “This article came off incredibly biased and self absorbed, with no thought as to other views. Educate yourself and think before you speak your mind.”
    Why don’t you educate yourself and LEARN the DEFINITION of “editorial” before leaving pointless, insubstantial comments? There’s a reason this was filed under “opinion”.

    “You actually can’t really cheat in college. Have you ever attended a college before? Why are you assuming that college classes are only huge lecture halls with tons of students?”
    So he says that you CAN cheat in college. You’re saying that you CAN’T. At ALL. Which one seems to have more accurate? His point was that midterms and exams are sometimes taken in large lecture halls with hundreds of students. Which is accurate. He never said that ALL classes consist of hundreds of students. Nice job missing that point.

    “It’s comical that you think that students will be able to keep cheating under your blanket statement that most colleges have huge classes only.”
    It’s comical that you’re trying to refute a perceived blanket statement by making one of your own (see above quotation).

    “Also this article takes itself very seriously and puts too much blame on teachers who are notoriously underpaid and overworked. Calling a teacher lazy while reasoning that students shouldn’t have to be moral is a ridiculous double standard and shows that you have a very narrow minded point of view, a point of view that only speaks for students.”
    First, refer to point #1. It’s an editorial (that means “opinion article”). Second, you’re assuming that a fundamental trait of human nature simply doesn’t exist. People will take advantage of a system if they are given the chance. Why do prisons exist? Why do policemen exist? They’re there to enforce the rules. Some people don’t want to follow the rules. Your argument is: “why blame the system when it’s the students’ fault?” Well of course the students are the ones doing the cheating, that’s a given. We ASSUME that premise before even discussing the other idea of a flawed system. And that’s what this article is about, is about how our system has flaws that do encourage cheating. Flaws that could be remedied with small changes: teachers could create new tests each year instead of recycling those from previous years, and create two versions instead of one. If you go to all the trouble of teaching students content, why on Earth wouldn’t you want their efforts honestly reflected in their grade?

    Unfortunately, your comment lacks the thought and depth that most people reading this article should have. I honestly don’t know how to explain this to you better.

  3. Jane Collins on January 11th, 2013 10:37 am

    First of all, your opinion is respected on the MDO. However, if you’re going to accuse a student, who IS in the process of educating himself, I think it is cowardly not to identify yourself. It’s easy to be so accusatory if you can post under “anonymous.” And if students are posting a guest editorial on the MDO, they are obviously in high school and haven’t attended college, so you don’t need to ask. In addition, of course the author is going to take himself seriously; it would be inappropriate to consider this article a joke. Just because the author may not have the higher education you claim to have, that does not warrant an attack on how seriously he takes himself. Typically, a guest editorial is going to be opinionated. The author never claimed to be writing a news article. A student is going to speak on behalf of other students, and if you’d like to represent the “other side” of the argument, I would appreciate it if you actually provided a counterargument rather than just scolding a high school student because his opinion differs from yours.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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Guest Editorial: Cheating, Another Student’s View