The Ethics of Cheating

There’s a lot of ethical choices we must make in our life. Many of them to not only affect those around us, but our image as well; and when we tarnish our image, it all comes back to affect those around us. ‘if you were to kill a man, not only does it affect the family of the man you killed, but now your family will have to visit prison if they ever want to see you. When it comes to lying and cheating throughout your life, the consequences can be the same depending on who it affects. So then why do I see so many people doing it?

“Because people can get away with it,” you say?

True, true. It’s much easier to get away with cheating than with murder. Especially when it comes to school, since your decision to take somebody else’s work and resources as your own really only affects you if you’re caught — well, mostly. Though I don’t think people do it just because everyone else is doing it or that the decision to do so affects only themselves.

When it comes to cheating in your courses, there can be a lot of gray area that you have to deal with. Yes, everyone knows it’s wrong to look at someone else’s paper and copy it. But what if that person allows you copy off it? Okay, so that may be a little close to the black area too, but what about sharing notes? While not an issue to most, some professors still find that trading course material to be unethical and can get you kicked out of the course, suspended, or even expelled from the campus, leaving a permanent stain on your college record.

In case if you didn’t already know the definition of cheating, it’s to break a rule in an attempt to gain and advantage at something.¬†Usually, most colleges will have you watch an instructional video or something of the sorts, outlining the ethics of cheating and going over specific examples as to what’s constituted as cheating. The general rule is that if the professor doesn’t mention in the syllabus whether you can do it, don’t do it. And of your syllabus isn’t clear about it, ask your professor. Besides, if the syllabus doesn’t tell you whether it’s okay to submit somebody else’s work, you’re not going to ask your professor if it’s okay, are you? It’s common sense.

Yet people still try to do it anyway. Why? Because they¬†get scared. They become overwhelmed by stress try to find a shortcut so that they may be able to pass their classes. When taking Physics, I’ve had many students admit to me that they cheated on the tests, because the tests were too unfair and that the professor didn’t effectively prepare us for them. I spent 20+ hours studying every week on that course alone and still got a 30 percent average on all my tests. It’s a shame that we’ve come to the point that it’s become more important to do well academically than to actually learn something.

In our minds, we get so wrapped up in desire to do well that we justify making unethical choices because it appears that everyone’s on the same boat as well. Like the dumb little sheep that we are, we see one sheep jump off a cliff and before long, everyone’s lining up single file to do the same. We seemed to have overlooked the fact along the way that the majority of people are almost always wrong.

It oftentimes seems better, especially during times of great duress, to take that shortcut. To take the easy way out. But it doesn’t look so great as you’re plummeting down towards the jagged rocks at the bottom of the cliff. If you get yourself kicked out of college for cheating, not only does this hurt your chances of getting into another college, but it affects your career as well. And if your family is putting money into your education, not only did their money go to waste, but now they have to live with the fact that their child probably won’t be able to get anywhere in life. I know it’s a harsh thing to say, but that’s what happens when you break the rules; no matter how you may justify it.