Most students have cheated academically once or twice, but serial cheaters skew the meaning of a good GPA.
In middle school, I once transcribed the study guide to a theology exam on my arm and saw another student do the same on their leg. After the test, I debated with my friends whether I should turn my classmate in for cheating. When they pointed out my hypocrisy, I was upset and made some argument like, “But this other boy does this all the time!” It was a ridiculous argument, maybe, but to me, it held validity.
I sympathize with students who find themselves at their wit’s end, exhausted or stressed to the point where cheating is a last resort to avoid the alternative of academic failure. Although varying, most statistics point to over half of college students having cheated, and the majority do regret it. I feel uneasy over the times I’ve cheated as well, and I should note that I can maybe count them off on the fingers of one hand.
In college, I can honestly say I’ve never cheated on an exam, even during those times a professor left me in their office to take midterms I’d been absent for. For whatever reason, cheating on exams frustrates me to a perplexing extent. I was recently distracted by a student who’d whip his phone out from his jacket pocket to a space behind the desk in front of him. This was a loud and distracting motion; I honestly can’t imagine the professor didn’t notice it once or twice. For me, it was beyond irritating. These kinds of things happen all the time.
In addition, some professors seem incapable of hearing whispers in a foreign language, and some are so trusting as to leave the exam room entirely unsupervised, and you end up with the reality that compulsive cheaters are going to cheat often and get away with it. Worse still, it’s going to improve their GPA.
A poll conducted at Fordham University shows a sizable gap: cheaters average at a 3.41 GPA, honest students round out at a 2.85 GPA. This flies in the face of the argument that cheaters are often poor students, so their cheating does not elevate their grade to the extent it would beat out honest, impressive students.
I try not to be the kind of person who preaches that all good things must be the product of hard work — but that’s not the problem of cheating. It wouldn’t matter to me if compulsive, serial cheaters were succeeding in a vacuum, but the fact of the matter is that they are competing with you, a potentially-honest student. And there’s a good chance they’re doing better than you because of their academic dishonesty.
It’s not wrong because it’s easier for them; it’s wrong because it gives them an advantage over us.