Most of us start getting warnings about cheating in the classroom as early as elementary school, but the possible consequences have a tendency to increase in severity as we get older. College students in particular can find they very trajectory of their lives significantly altered if they get caught cheating on their exams or assignments.
How Widespread is the Problem?
Something like 75% of college students have admitted to cheating on exams and essays, leading some to go so far as to label this trend a “cheating crisis” in America.
While online colleges have a number of significant advantages over traditional colleges, one of the most glaring shortcomings is undoubtedly the ease with which students can cheat on their assignments, in spite of strongly-worded warnings from their instructors. Cheating can include looking at books, notes, or even websites to provide the answers.
What Happens When You Get Caught?
The repercussions of cheating in college can vary by institution and with the severity of the offense. In some cases, the student will simply fail the course, rather than just the assignment in question. For many students, this can have a lasting effect on the degree programs they’re enrolled in; if they’re dismissed from a critical course, they may not be able to earn their degree.
A more severe punishment may include suspension. This, too, can seriously derail a students’ plans for the future, since they’ll find themselves removed from school for the duration of the academic semester or even an entire school year. It can be difficult or even impossible for students to catch up after a setback like this, which may delay their graduation. One can only guess at the frustration and regret at watching one’s friends graduate without you.
Of course, even suspension pales in comparison to expulsion, which is easily the most severe punishment that a student could face. Certain schools have a zero-tolerance policy for cheating and may expel first-time offenders, while other schools may use it as a recourse for repeat offenders. In any event, you’ll find yourself dismissed from your university, with the offense permanently affixed to your academic record. You’ll then find yourself in the unenviable position of explaining the offense to any schools you apply to in the future. It goes without saying, then, that it can sometimes be impossible to recover from this kind of disciplinary action – your career goals may be permanently sabotaged.
What’s the Solution?
Maybe part of the problem comes down to the very way students are being taught in the classroom, whether they’re in elementary school or graduate school. For most students, the emphasis seems to be placed on the relentless memorization of facts and figures – that is, transitory knowledge that we seem to retain just long enough to take a test or make it to summer vacation.
Perhaps the biggest failing of our educational institutions is their insistence in this regurgitation of facts rather than on meaningful interpretation of those facts. Then again, maybe your college already does this, and your cheating methods involve stealing essays off the Internet rather than glancing at your neighbor’s paper during a test. If that’s the case, then God help you; you’re beyond our help.
In any event, maybe it’s time to revisit the teaching methods themselves, and structure then in such a way that students are appraised less on their ability to memorize and more on their ability to think for themselves. Until then: keep your eyes on your own paper.