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Monday, January 19, 2009

Cutting Ethical Corners

Cutting Ethical Corners in School – Is it a Lesson Learned for Life?
By Holly McCarthy

I’ve heard it said time and again, but can never get used to the finality of this statement – “It’s only cheating if you get caught”.

Now I’m no saint, and though I’m not proud to admit it, I’ve done my share of minor cheating. I always justified the act by telling myself that I wasn’t hurting anyone in the process. I’m sure all of us have resorted to white lies to get out of sticky situations at some time or the other, but one thing I’ve never done is to take short cuts or cheat in order to get ahead at the cost of others. I’m proud to say I’ve never had to copy test papers or plagiarize assignments to excel at school or college, or use false information to gain a promotion or a salary increase.

But this article is not about me - there’s a disturbing trend that seems to be sweeping the nation, and one that is a cause for concern. We’re hearing of an increasing number of instances where students are confessing, albeit under the condition of anonymity, that they do cheat at tests in order to get good grades, and that they do copy assignments from the Internet to save time and effort. Going one step further, some of them even outsource their homework and assignments to professional writers who are looking to make some extra money.

The reasons for this are varied:

There is an enormous amount of pressure from parents and peers to obtain and maintain good grades. Students who are known to do well are especially susceptible to cheating – the temptation is too strong when they’ve not prepared well for a test on which they need to score well.

With all the extracurricular and social activities that take up a large part of a student’s calendar, there’s hardly any time left to study as hard as they should for tests or do adequate research for assignments. And when a deadline looms ahead, they’re forced to resort to cutting ethical corners and cheating.

Some of them are just plain lazy and so tend to adopt the attitude that it’s ok to cut corners when there are easier alternatives available. They delude themselves into thinking that they’re really not cheating, and that they could do the same thing on their own if they put their minds to it.

Some feel extremely guilty when they do it for the first time, but as the frequency of cheating increases, they slip into it like a second skin and don’t regret the act any longer.

Whatever the reason, if you’re used to cheating in high school and through college, you’re going to get used to cutting corners all your life in order to get ahead. They say it’s not possible to teach an old dog new tricks; well, it’s also true that you cannot unlearn a trick that’s been a part of you since childhood. It’s harder to avoid getting off scot-free when you cheat in the adult world, and the consequences are so much harder to bear when you get caught. So if you’re in the habit of taking the ethical shortcut, the sooner you rid yourself of this practice, the better your future will be.

By-line: Holly McCarthy writes on the best business school. She invites your feedback at hollymccarthy12 at gmail dot com

1 comment:

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thanks for this piece, Holly. Well done!