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Why College Students Cheat: Discussion Essay

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Updated: Oct 16th, 2021

Schools are supposed to have preventative programs such as Values Education and Clarification as well as other relevant topics. Gradually, development of critical-thinking skills, individuality and self-concepts and interpersonal-relationship skills creeps into the curricula. But still College students are cheat and do things that may affect the educational setting of the future.

There are different reasons why students cheat. These reasons afford one an overview of the picture of academic dishonesty. One of these is because schools place a premium on a high grade point average so that they are pressured to find any means just to maintain those grades. There are also new students who find themselves in courses that are too difficult for them to understand. So, they have no recourse but to ask for someone’s help in making those assignments. The list is endless but it is true that students nowadays are unattached to values related to school, so that there is less guilt when one indulges in some form of cheating (Elsbree, L. and Mulderig, G. 1986).

One rampant form of dishonesty is plagiarism. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of someone else’s work. The word comes from a Latin word for “kidnapping,” and plagiarism is indeed stealing of something done by someone else. Plagiarism is not limited to the unacknowledged quotation of words. A paraphrase is a sort of word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase translation of the author’s language into the writer’s language. True, if the writer paraphrases, he is using his own words, but he is also using someone else’s ideas, and, equally important, he is using this other person’s sequence of thoughts. Even if a writer changes every third word in the source, and he does not give the author credit, he is plagiarizing. Here is an example of this sort of plagiarism, based on the previous sentence: (Elsbree, L. and Mulderig, G. 1986).

Because of the presence of the Internet, students are also able to cheat and think that they can get away with it. This is a major reason why college students cheat. The Internet continues to be a growing phenomenon. The New York Times reports that more than half of the people who surf the Internet began in 1995. There are very few restrictions about the use of the Internet which explains the reason why the Internet is being used and abused in many ways than one. The government has given sanctions and regulations on the Internet but it is also a fact that monitoring its use can be quite a task since people just exchange information freely and consistently. The Computer Emergency Response Team revealed that there are approximately 2,241 ‘incidents’ in 1994 where the Internet was abused. It also states that as people become more adept at using the Internet, people become more deviant. Thus, they commit what is called as Internet deviance where their action breaks Internet rules including committing illegal acts, which is composed of destroying files and netiquette. Internet deviance therefore, despite being a new phenomenon, needs to have mores and norms that regulate considerate and appropriate behavior on the Internet, particularly the email (Internet Deviance). The computer is a powerful tool in shaping our society. It has altered the way we do things and modified our tasks and works drastically. Indeed, it deserves to be called “the machine that changed the world” for it really changed the way we live and look at things. But even then, people must be wary about the privacy ramifications of transactions done with computers. Computers defined the past, affect the present and will continue move along with us towards the future. Thus, the use of the Internet has become a pastime for most people but has resulted in rampant cheating and academic dishonesty.

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There are no studies that can truly claim that a particular class of people cheats more often than another class of individuals. Merton’s social theory focuses not so much on crime but on the different kinds of deviance which can lead to criminal behavior. It is the little things like these that can lead one to a major criminal offence. Merton posits that there are certain goals which are strongly emphasised by society incorporating the goals in which to achieve them. Conformity then is the most common form of adaptation. Students need to conform to the rules of the school and since cheating is unacceptable, then this puts a strain on students to avoid the act or behavior that can lead to this.

Cheating can lead to a lack of “national purpose” in education as well as the erosion of values in future leaders. Looking back, we find a report titled A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, written by the National Commission on Excellence in Education (NCEE) appointed by the government in 1983, helped create a public demand for change in the public schools. The report charged that U.S. citizens have lost sight of schooling and the very foundations of society are being eroded. (NCEE, 1983) The report advocated a number of directions for reform, including the following: first, there must be greater consensus by Americans on the goals of schooling. Second, there must be renewed emphasis on “the basics” (reading, communicating and computing) in learning. Third, standards if excellence must be established. Fourth, more capable people must be motivated to train and stay in the teaching profession. Fifth, the United States’ economic position in the world community necessitates higher levels of education for all students (Chafel, 1984).

This kind of technology today that encourages college students to cheat is here to stay and will continue to progress for people to use for their own advantage, yet it could be a dangerous tool to perpetrate unlawful or criminal acts to achieve dangerous ends. It is but right that the US government must take pro-active measures to monitor, regulate and ensure that the Internet technology is properly used to attain such valued purposes for which it is intended and thus protect the interests of humanity. Some are quite strict in the release of personally identifiable information to third parties such that they do it only when they are convinced that it is appropriate for them do so since they want to protect clients against fraud. In the case of the Internet, it has become a tool for students to cheat because information is readily at their fingertips. They no longer need to go to their Library. Their laptops are all they need to access information for their different assignments. Students need to know where their limitations are. Students need to be aware that today, more than ever, they need to be more discriminating of the information that is available in the Internet so that they can be true to themselves and remain excellent and upright in their actions and behavior.


  1. Chafel, J.A. 1984. Public schooling: The current crisis. Childhood Education, 61(2), 82-84
  2. Elsbree, L. and Mulderig, G. 1986. The Heath Handbook. D.C. Heath and Company.
  3. Findlaw (2007). Privacy in the Workplace: Overview.
  4. Internet Deviance.
  5. Merton’s Strain Theory.
  6. National Commission on Excellence in Education (NCEE). (1983). A nation at risk: the imperative for educational reform. Washington, D.C. U.S. Government Printing Office
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