After reading Rebekah Nathan’s The Art of College Management: Cheating, I realized that I’ve done all those things. I’ve signed a friend’s name on an attendance sheet and have had someone do it for me. I’ve collaborated on homework assignments. I’ve written papers without citations, and if it was at the last minute (which too frequently it was), I even took the liberty to invent sources on my bibliography just so the amount of research I had done looked extensive.
In my 7th grade biology class, my friend (who was conveniently seated next to me) and I devised this strategy during tests on how to cheat off of the two guys across from us. My friend and I would both lean over slightly to get a peek of the papers across, wait a few seconds, and then my friend would dramatically sigh as if the answer had just flown in through the window and smacked into her head. She would then proceed to fill in the bubble. I was always too embarrassed to make such phony sound effects so we would just compare notes. In the same class, our teacher would give us these pop quizzes of only two questions, meaning that if you answered one wrong, you had already failed it. How could you not whisper to the person next to you to be reassured your answer was right or to quickly scratch out the lousy guess you had made and quickly right the correct answer down? Even though it was only middle school, I can sincerely say that cheating in that class saved my grade.
I have to agree with some of the situations brought up in Nathan’s observations on when students believed it was appropriate to cheat. Occasionally, there are those loony professors who test you on totally irrelevant information to the material covered in class. And what if you truly just didn’t have time to study or complete that homework assignment? Nathan made the assumption, “Students nationwide cheat less as they move up in year, suggesting to me that as they become more skilled in manipulating the other elements of the system, their need to cheat dissipates.” I don’t think it has to do with manipulation but rather as students get older, especially in college, the more in tune their classes are with their major. In response to Nathan’s question of when it’s ok to cheat, a couple of students commented, “If you don’t give a shit about the class but are required to take it,” and “When it’s a liberal studies class that has no relevance to your major.” When students are learning something that they’re passionate about, cheating on tests or papers is only cheating themselves out of thoroughly understanding the material, which they won’t want to do.
I do understand, however, the unfairness of someone putting a lot of effort into an assignment and receiving the grade that they rightfully deserved and someone who received the same grade from cheating off of someone else. In my cheating experience, I’ve been both the recipient and the provider. I remember near sleepless nights of trying to finish an assignment and then the next day someone asking me if he or she could copy it. I didn’t know the person’s situation or what could have prevented him or her from doing it, but then again that person didn’t know mine. There I was, drained, after staying up those extra hours that I could have had had I decided to copy off of someone.
Overall, I think it honestly depends on the situation to say whether cheating is harmful or not. As Nathan proves in her argument, cheating is a vital part of university life and I don’t think it will diminish anytime soon.