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Home Viewpoint Student Life Cheating: Why do students do it?

Cheating: Why do students do it?

Cheating: Why do students do it?

When one thinks of the word “cheating,” they may think of someone peeking over at a classmate’s quiz or test to get answers, or maybe even cheating on a girlfriend/boyfriend that they may have, or maybe just being untrue to themselves, whatever it may be.

However, have you ever thought about why someone feels compelled to cheat? Could it be that they are lazy? How about being stressed about failing? Could it be that they did not have time to study? There could be a variety of excuses and reasons why someone would feel the need to cheat, but each situation is different.

According to Stanford University, “73% of all [collegiate] test takers, including prospective graduate students and teachers agree that most students do cheat at some point. 86% of high school students agreed.” If 86% of high school students agreed that most students have cheated at some point in their academic careers, that could mean over 920 out of the 1,081 students enrolled at Jesuit agree with this statistic. What type of cheating could this be, though?

Cheating includes a broad variety of forms—sharing your work with a classmate, paying someone to do the work for you, sneaking in answers on a small sheet of paper, coming up with a unique form of communication in the testing room, and more.

One anonymous Jesuit freshman said, “In my entire academic career, I’ve seen people peek at their neighbor’s test, look at things written on their hand/arm, or give answers before if they have already taken it.”

Why do people cheat? One “popular” reason is that the assignment was so difficult that someone felt that cheating was the only option to receive a passing grade. For example, some classes at Jesuit base their grade-books off of a “weighted scale.” That means that tests may be worth 50% of their average, quizzes worth 30%, and homework worth 20%. If someone were to fail a test, their 50% category value could shoot down quickly, consequently affecting their overall average.

Assistant Principal of Academics Ben Kirby said he believes students cheat because “Jesuit is a competitive environment. There are a lot of stress factors the surround high school in general, so we tend to see students make poor decisions when these stress factors become severe. I think students make those bad decisions outside of their own value system, so they know what they’re doing is wrong.”

Chandler Stonecipher ’16 said that he believes students cheat because “some students are too lazy to study, but they still want good grades, so they take the easy way out. I think it applies to all schools, though. Jesuit isn’t nearly as bad as other schools because the students here know the consequences of cheating.”

Max Miller ’14 agreed, saying, “Cheating is so prevalent in high school because many people are lazy. The need to cheat is a result of a lack of preparation or prior planning. A student will feel the need to cheat because of his unwillingness to prepare in advance, whether it be studying ahead of time or starting an essay days before it is due, rather than the night before.”

In most cases, not having enough time to study may result from procrastination or even the dreaded senioritis (the “medical term” that means “checking out of studies”) if one happens to be a senior.

In high school, grades mean everything to students because of the factor they play in college applications. With a low grade in a class because of one test, one may feel that their chances of getting into a certain college are gone. In fact, high grades have become a higher priority than a true, profound learning experience, according to a Stanford survey, and that is why cheating has become more popular. In other words, students want the grade, not the education.

According to a survey conducted by The Roundup, students believe that the most common excuse behind cheating is they did not study and they fear poor performance on an assignment.  Jesuit students believe the most common way to cheat includes looking at someone else’s assignment with their knowledge, indicating that maybe students feel comfortable with cheating together.

One of the first questions the survey asked was, “Have you ever witnessed other students cheating?” Sadly, 62 of 66 students said they had, whether that was with a cheat sheet or watching a student copy off another student’s homework. Kirby commented, saying that this number “is concerning. Although we cannot assume 66 students represent the entire student body, that number is pretty concerning.”

With instant access to email, online notes and assignments, and the power of the internet, one might think the ability to send another student a completed assignment has made cheating much easier. Interestingly enough, only 31 of the 66 students surveyed believed that cheating has gotten worse since the introduction of the iPads to the Jesuit classrooms.

At Jesuit, cheating is dealt with “on a case-by-case basis,” according to Kirby. “Our goal is to stop these patterns before [the students] become adults; we don’t want to ruin their academic careers, but we try to teach them a lesson before they go off to college, because in college, cheating could get you expelled. If this were a job, they could fire you. What we do is minimal compared to what can happen outside of high school.”

“If a teacher has any suspicion, that instantly sparks a meeting between the student and teacher. If they discover there was a violation of academic integrity, they then come to my office where I speak with the student and the teacher together. Then, I meet with the teacher to decide the most formative outcome. It could be a grade consequence, a re-written assignment, or a 0%. We don’t have a rubric that we go by to determine punishments for each first offense, second offense, and so forth.”

“There are two components to cheating—the academic side and the behavioral side. I meet with the students and then give them a reflection sheet that they must work on with their parents, their counselors, Mr. Knize, and the teacher. Mr. Knize, depending on the situation, will assign a Saturday [detention] or two. If it’s serious enough, it could result in a suspension. If there are several instances of cheating, Mr. Garrison will then meet with the student and family to determine if any additional steps are needed to help the student understand the importance of acting with integrity at Jesuit.”

Another angle to view cheating includes looking at the profile of the Jesuit graduate. At the point of graduation, a student is intellectually competent, but a part of this competency includes building his strong knowledge truthfully. Students should realize that cheating does not help them properly learn; rather, it only serves as a shortcut to bypass learning and finish an assignment for a grade.

Will cheating always be present in the world? Absolutely. Will cheating always be present at Jesuit? Absolutely. Cheating is inevitable; with the pressures in the world today, along with the laziness of some students, cheating will exist everywhere. One must realize that cheating will exist in every school, work place, or professional setting, though.

However, those who cheat are only cheating themselves. The knowledge they lose will only harm them in the future. In other words, pay attention in class and be honest with your work. Don’t be that guy who can’t do a little algebra in your future job.



Work Cited

Jaffe, David L., MS, and Drew Nelson. “ENGR110/210: Perspectives in Assistive Technology – Academic Cheating Fact Sheet.” Academic Cheating Fact Sheet. Stanford University, 21 Oct. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <>.

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Aaron is currently a senior and the Editor-in-Chief of The Roundup. After playing football for multiple years, Aaron suffered a major back injury at the end of his sophomore season. Just weeks later, he began searching for new clubs and things to try at Jesuit, thus leading him to The Roundup. After writing just one simple article, he found he immensely enjoyed writing. After covering just two more articles that spring, Aaron became a Junior Associate Editor. During his junior year, Aaron was awarded “Best Article of the Month” in December 2012 and “Editor of the Month” in November 2012. Aaron will be attending Saint Louis University next year and will major in Health Management (Pre-Med).