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Monday, December 8, 2014

Cheating In School...

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Since I say so many controversial things on this blog, I kind of feel the need to go off the deep end and say to go cheat away on everything... but I won't. It's usually just a recipe for trouble. I personally have some experience on the supplier end of cheating. (I never cheated on my own work but I've helped others with getting their work done before.) There are a few reasons I learned that cheating is usually a really bad idea. It's not even a bad idea for the reasons you might think.

You'll Get Caught!?

The most common objection people use against cheating is that you're risking consequences if you cheat. If you get caught cheating, you can get a mark on your permanent record that will haunt you forever. That mark can cost you tons of options in the future. If you're in college then you're also putting yourself at serious risk of getting kicked out.

There are some risks involved with cheating but statistically speaking, you won't get caught.

Sure... If you're stupid enough to copy and paste an essay then you have a good chance of getting caught. If you take the time to thoroughly think out your cheating methods then you have virtually no chance of getting caught. Even if someone does suspect something, there are ways that you can be almost completely safe from getting proven guilty.

College professors deal with hundreds of students. For the most part, you aren't going to even get noticed. (Of course, in certain class sizes this is much less true.) Most essays don't go through the automated plagiarism tests. Even if they do, with 10 minutes of intelligent editing, you can ensure the essay won't even trigger it. Even on tests, most teachers don't have the resources to stop every attempt at cheating. With a little creativity, the odds of a student getting caught are one in a million.

Despite that, you still shouldn't be cheating.

Spark Of Genius?

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I used to sell essays to students that wanted to cheat. (Of course, as a safety precaution, I told them I didn't allow them to use essays for class submission but everyone knew the business...) One thing always drove me nuts about the students that would purchase essays.

Most of these students were below average to average students. I was known for writing extraordinary essays. (Yes... no one knows what hole that writing skill slithered off into...) These teachers got to read okay essay after okay essay from these students, until one day, they submit a really good one. Teacher's that actually read their students essays are not too dumb to realize this change.

A teacher will probably never take note of a C student getting a B or a B student getting an A but most students cheating aren't in that situation. Most students that end up cheating go from D's to A's overnight.

A good percentage of the time, the teacher knows something is wrong. They may be completely unable to prove anything. They may not even have enough to feel comfortable asking the student questions but in any average class size, the teacher can notice massive changes in a single student.
When you cheat once, you're setting yourself up to need to cheat more in the future. Even assuming the teacher never realizes that you cheated, that teacher is going to hold you to a higher standard when you show that you're capable of doing better. To keep up with those new standards, you're going to need to continue the lie even longer.

The whole problem just stacks on itself over time.

Digging The Hole Deeper

Students usually cheat for one of two reasons.

The first reason is that they lack confidence in their ability to learn or produce. When you're not confident about your ability to remember information, you're going to make it significantly harder to actually learn. This can be an unbelievably destructive mindset to get stuck in because it affects every area of your life.

The second reason people cheat is because they failed to prepare. Despite knowing the value of getting that good grade, they made poor decisions that left them with the option of failing or the option of cheating.

Both reasons are miserable excuses to cheat.

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When you're not confident in your ability to take a test and you cheat. You're admitting that you were right not to be confident. It's like betting against yourself. This just trains your brain to think it was right to stick with cheating. Your mind won't change and you'll just have to do it again next time to appease your lack of confidence.

When you failed to prepare for a test, cheating just encourages you not to prepare for tests in the future. Failing a test isn't the end of the world. No, you probably won't get kicked out of school. No, you won't be dying on the streets. You'll just have to suffer a little bit of embarrassment. As long as you use that embarrassment to prevent making the same mistake in the future, you'll be much better off just failing.

When you cheat, you're giving yourself an attractive out. That attractive out often just ends up being more of a trap. Sure, it wouldn't be so bad if you cheated one time in your life but it's probably not going to end up being one time because you're just giving yourself permission to do it in the future more.

The more you cheat, the more your gut repulsion to cheating will go away. That won't help at all.

You Don't Need It

You don't need to cheat.

There are ways that you can get very high scores on essays, tests, and just about anything else without investing hours and hours of your time. With less than a half hour of work a night, you can be one of the most successful students in your class. (Easily top 10% in most non-elite high schools and colleges.) Quite frankly, cheating is probably more work than it's worth.

In the same amount of time it takes you to write a good and thorough cheat sheet, you can learn everything you need to learn to pass the test. You just need to be using the right strategies. Once you learn these strategies, the idea of cheating almost sounds like a hard worker's approach to getting good grades. Why work hard when you can work smart? Learn these strategies and you'll be set.

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