Nearly everyone would agree that cheating is wrong. It would be difficult to find anyone who is willing to support the view that cheating is a noble method of getting anything done. The mention of it will bring an uncomfortable uncertainty to any student’s face, and draw a disapproving frown from anyone over thirty. However, in the age of easy internet access, it becomes less clear as to what cheating actually is. The answer to any question you will ever have is readily available at the click of a mouse. Entire essays are ripe for the picking. Delicious fields of all-too-accurate practice tests, ready to be harvested for your ethically questionable feast! Colleen Wenke in the essay, “Too Much Pressure,” asserts cheating to be “taking work done by somebody else, be it a friend or someone that you do not know, and writing your name on it and saying it is your work.” (564) She alleges that there is a new class of cheaters today, and that their numbers are rising rather rapidly. Wenke claims that its causes are a focus on the grade, rather than the education, and a low penalty for actually being caught. There is a new brand of “smart” cheaters.
Cheaters that are simply trying to achieve their tragically high goals, and who have found that it has become unacceptable to drop a single ball that they are juggling whilst jumping through the flaming hoops of potential colleges. Wenke argues that students who would normally not be susceptible to evil are almost forced into cheating. This happens when they realize that the students who do cheat are typically more successful and have slightly higher test scores than those who don’t. Wenke closes by warning that these “smart” cheaters are going to be the same people who become heads of businesses and presidents of big corporations. She recommends that we think about the future issues that come with having cheaters rule our country, and suggests that when the thirst for knowledge returns in a student’s mind, and the desire for the grade without the work dissolves, cheating will finally begin its decline.
My own view is that while everyone knows cheating is wrong, the benefits have come to far outweigh the consequences. I will try my hardest to be prepared for a test, and to take it honestly, but if something comes up that I’m not prepared for, I have no qualms with using the test I aced to patch the piece of my rather sorry-looking soul I’ve torn apart. It’s a fact that almost everyone at Hanford, especially the “smart” ones, have cheated. For example, when asked as an AP Lang class to raise our hands if we had cheated before, just the other day, everyone’s hands went up; however reluctantly. Even Jonah Bartrand, who is in all respects a shining example of academic purity, admitted the next day that he had collaborated on lab write-ups, which his biology teacher clearly forbade.
No one escapes the guilt, but it’s just so easy to ignore when you’re reaping the benefits. Integrity is a hypothetical comfort, but a good grade is a tangible, therapeutic stress-ball that can always prove beyond a doubt that you’re successful. I think that there is really is just too much pressure. Too much pressure to be talented, and service-oriented, and diverse, but dedicated. Too much pressure to be exceptional in every subject. Too much pressure to view high school as anything but a place to solidify qualifications for later on in life. When that goal is put so temptingly in front of someone, someone who has is determined to succeed, what is supposed to stop them from copying-and-pasting a paragraph from Wikipedia? Cheating has become too easy to justify. The means are everywhere, the perpetrators are everyone, and the results are guaranteed. It’s a frightening statement, but I think that the ends really have come to justify the means.