First exams are approaching, lab reports are in full gear and thesis paper deadlines are looming. Yet some students have not purchased textbooks let alone read them. Why study in daily increments when copies of old exams, with questions likely to be recycled by the professor, are available from upperclassmen? Actually reading Augustine’s “Confessions” would be inefficient when SparkNotes is a few clicks away. As long as science majors copy lab reports from students with different instructors, the naïve professors will never notice. Disguising deception as discipline is more commonplace in academia than anywhere else. The University is merely a microcosm of the manipulative and gullible world.
Collaboration is essential to success in college. With limited professor availability and overpriced tutoring services, students must resort to each other for help. However, the fine line between helping and cheating is far too common. Group study sessions are rarely symbiotic. The most studious often lead study groups with noble intentions to teach their fellow classmates, but some classmates would prefer to cut to the chase and blindly copy the answers from students they trust. And whether pretending to not understand, telling a somber tall tale or phrasing requests as friendly as possible, the deceptive pupils know how to succeed in their ulterior motives. Many times the victim of plagiarism is aware and accepting. However, nobody seems to see that cheaters always get caught.
Cheaters will be caught. And when they are caught, the fall from grace will more than offset any glory that may have been attained. Glory, indeed, provides the motivation to cheat. And glory is attainable by cheating. Marion Jones won five Olympic medals before she was exposed. Lance Armstrong rode his cold blood to seven Tour de France titles before the wheels of his alibi ran out of air. Even Alex Rodriguez struck out.
Cheaters choose to manipulate systems and, whether intentionally or subconsciously, manipulate their supporters as well. People do not like to be taken advantage of and believers will berate even best friends if dishonorable behavior is revealed. An exposed cheater may be his or her only remaining supporter, but the perpetrator is the greatest victim. Because no short-term pleasure attained by unjust means can match the rewards of living a righteous life.
The lessons potentially learned from disciplined work ethic and honest ambitions are lost the moment cheating takes place. Hard work breeds employees with tenure, marriages with substance and families with love. Cheating breeds cheaters. An accounting student can cheat on an exam and a pre-medical student can take a shortcut on a lab report. But when an accountant cheats, people go to jail. And when a doctor takes a shortcut, people die.