As you sit in your crowded lecture hall and toil away at that seemingly impossible math problem, you glance down and see a peer in the next row surreptitiously looking at formulas he has scrawled on his hand. This scene sounds quite plausible to many students. Whether they’ve engaged in the behavior themselves or simply witnessed a friend or fellow student cheating, most students are familiar with academic dishonesty. It’s your job, as a moral and upright learner, to take a stand for what you believe in and do your part to combat cheating. If you fail to do so, you’ll be doing yourself and your fellow learners a disservice.
Stick To Your Beliefs
It’s almost certain that, at some point in time as you move through school and pursue a profession, the temptation to cheat will rear its head. Instead of allowing that suffocating stack of papers that fills your desk to convince you that cheating, just once, isn’t a big deal, focus on remaining true to your beliefs. Keep your ultimate goal—to leave school with the knowledge you need to succeed in the real world—in mind and allow it to give you the motivation you require to stay on the right path.
If you hold the firm belief that cheating is wrong; don’t keep this conviction to yourself. Instead, tell your friends and classmates that you’re against academic dishonesty. Explain to these individuals that you see cheating as a serious problem and that cheaters are really only cheating themselves out of knowledge. By verbalizing your abhorrence for cheating, you can allow others to recognize the firmness of your beliefs and follow your lead in standing against cheating.
All too often, would-be cheaters attempt to explain away their guilt by proclaiming cheating as a regular occurrence without serious consequences. In truth, nothing could be further from the truth. Many schools take cheating very seriously and do much to punish cheaters. If you have a friend or acquaintance who’s trying to convince you that cheating is a victimless crime and he won’t get caught, educate him on the topic, enlightening him on your school’s policy on cheating or showing him some news articles about cheaters who’ve gotten caught and been forced to face serious consequences. By presenting this irrefutable evidence, you may be able to sway a person who is considering cheating to simply spend more time studying instead.
Choose Friends Carefully
Regardless of how much you try to sway your friends to agree with you that cheating is a serious problem, you may ultimately fail to do so. If you aren’t successful in winning over a would-be cheater and this individual engaged in academic dishonesty, it’s time to seriously re-evaluate your relationship with him. Tell this friend how fervently you disagree with academic dishonesty and remind him again just how dire the consequences can be. If he continues down the same path, consider cutting ties with this friend to ensure you don’t go down with his cheating ship.
Cheating isn’t something that “everyone” is doing. If you know others are cheating but you aren’t doing your part to combat it, ultimately you’re hurting yourself as you’ll be working hard for the good grades that others are, in essence, stealing. As you move through your schooling, stick to your core beliefs. By avoiding academic dishonesty yourself, and doing whatever you can to be a strong role model and convince others that being academically dishonest is a serious problem, you can ensure that you leave school not just with a diploma or degree, but also with self-respect and integrity.
Melissa Crossman holds a Master’s degree in Education and previously taught junior high English classes. You can follow her on Twitter @melcrossman3.