There always have been, and always will be, the students who cheat because they are too lazy or too socially occupied to be bothered with actually studying and doing homework. These students value school not for the actual learning they can gain, but rather for the fact that they need to maintain passing grades to appease their family or get that “piece of paper” (diploma) that says they’re educated. Because learning is not what they are trying to gain, they are willing to take shortcuts past learning and cheat to get the grades they need. They’ll use the intelligence they do have to find ingenious ways to slip under the radar, because it is easier and more effective than taking the time and effort to study and work.
But, in today’s world, a new breed of cheaters has emerged. The increasing pressure to go to college, due to the increasing number of above minimum-wage jobs that require a college degree, has both students and their parents scrambling to grasp at any means available to perform at the highest level. There are standardized tests, AP courses and tests, honors courses, G.A.T.E. programs, and extracurricular activities that parents and students know will look good on college applications, and the college application process is getting more and more competitive.
At first, only a few really desperate students may have begun cheating to try and get into that “dream college,” but those few students raised the stakes for the other students trying to do the same. Over the past few years, the amount of things that can be done to up the ante on a student’s college application has increased as more programs and websites were created for the purpose, and all of this has compacted to make for an increasingly competitive situation. As the stakes rise, more and more students are finding it necessary to cheat to keep their grades “in the running” while juggling all of the sports, clubs, volunteer service, and standardized tests they are being expected to participate in.
These are the students who are increasing the number of cheaters, and sadly, they are often good, intelligent students who value learning…they are just scrambling to get into good colleges and realizing that there’s just too much to handle and too many other students doing the same things they are doing. Some are being pressured by parents to get into a certain college, and others are just determined to fulfill a life dream by getting into a good school; they cheat not because they are not smart or do not think school is important, but because they know that if they don’t, their chances of getting the education they want could be compromised.
There will always be the students who cheat because they don’t value learning, but this new type of cheating by students who do value learning to the point of cheating in order to gain higher education forces us to wonder just how much pressure is too much to apply on our high school students.