If you look at the student conduct guide for any college in the U.S., you will see academic integrity placed as one of the highest core values. However, recent reports indicate that the rate of cheating in schools is higher now than perhaps ever before in our history.
A recent report released by the Educational Testing Service drives this point home better than most. The report compiled findings from many surveys conducted over the years. Let's review a few of the highlights gleaned from the report so we can see the trend more clearly:
- In 1941, only 20 percent of college students surveyed admitted to cheating in high school.
- In a 1996 survey, 64 percent of high school students admitted to cheating.
- In a 1998 poll by Who's Who Among American High School Students, 80 percent of surveyed students said they cheated to get to the top of their class.
- Today, repeated polling regularly shows that between 75 and 98 percent of students have admitted to cheating in some way.
Why the Cheating?
One of the most telling aspects of these and other reports is the understanding of who is doing the cheating—and why they are doing it. In years past, students tended to cheat only because they were struggling and needed to get a passing grade. Nowadays, cheating is far more widespread among well-performing students who would otherwise get passing grades without cheating. The reason? Most surveyed students say it's the pressure to compete academically—not just to pass, but have the highest grades possible.
These days, given the competitive nature of the grading system at most schools, it appears that high grades have become more important as an objective than the knowledge itself. Students with the highest GPAs get into the best colleges. College students who graduate with honors get top consideration for the best jobs. Thus, in the eyes of many students, the pressure to look good on paper academically is greater than ever. And now that modern technology has made it easier to cheat than ever before, it's little wonder that so many students are succumbing to the pressure.
The Ramifications for College Students
Aside from the heightened pressure, what are the ramifications of this trend for college students who attempt to uphold the standards of academic integrity?
Colleges and universities face a whole new set of challenges these days when it comes to enforcing academic standards and preventing cheating. Some are attempting to implement testing platforms that make it more difficult to cheat. Many have adopted honor codes to encourage students not only to practice academic integrity but to expose their colleagues who do not. For some students who are attempting to “do it right,” these counter-pressures may actually work against them in a couple of ways. First, false accusations of cheating may be leveled against them by rival students trying to get ahead. Second, schools that are ultra-sensitive to cheating may respond by doling out unfair discipline to students who are innocent.
If you've been accused of academic misconduct and are facing disciplinary hearings, you may need professional assistance to protect your academic future. Lento Law Firm has extensive experience helping students navigate code of conduct student discipline situations. Call us today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case and explore your options.