EDITORIAL | Cheating: Short-term gain, long-term loss

By Amanda Finnegan
October 13, 2006

Imagine your college transcript as your personal record. With such an emphasis on a college education in our society today, college transcripts are developing into exactly that. Cheating is becoming more like an academic felony and colleges are no longer just turning the other cheek.

Some colleges and universities are enforcing an “XF” policy for cheating, a letter grade that would say on students’ transcript that not only did they fail the class but cheated to earn that F. This new policy was not just brought into effect because of handful are students cheating. An overwhelming 70 percent of college students have admitted to cheating at least once in their academic career, according to AcademicIngerity.com.

While some work hard in their four years at college to make the grade, others fly just below the radar and get by with any means possible. The “XF” policy is meant to be a deterrent to students more than it is meant to be a consequence. Colleges are using the method to prevent academic dishonesty and hope that students will learn from example. Cabrini has not yet adopted the policy but it doesn’t mean we won’t in the near future.

Here at Cabrini, maybe professors have used a site called TurnItIn.com, a service that searches for plagiarism within a paper. However, recently, many schools have stopped using the service because they feel it infringes on intellectual property rights and students feel it presumes that they are guilty until proven innocent.

The “XF” remains on the cheaters record for two years and then face another academic trial. With the “XF” disappearing in only two years, underclassmen have a chance to reform and redeem themselves, but for those who take the risk of cheating as seniors, they leave college with the permanent scar on their academic records. When future employers see a transcript with a “XF,” the graduate’s future is completely shut down. Is this too harsh of a price to pay for cheating in college?

In extreme cases, the penalty fits the crime. Wandering eyes in math class is not the same as copying and pasting a paper from Wikipedia. Cheating is cheating but not all cases deserve the “XF.” It’s all circumstantial. Cabrini’s academic honesty policy recognizes varying forms and degrees of dishonesty and provides a range of punishments.

Also, another consequence of cheating is that relationships with professors may never recover. The relationships and connections we make with professors are invaluable. In a small school like Cabrini where everyone knows who you are, scandal can travel fast. Ultimately, professors hold the keys to our futures, whether it’s help you getting your foot in the door, writing a recommendation letter for you or giving you a piece of advice. If you cheat in a valued professor’s class, the loss of trust in you may have greater consequences than just a bad grade.

By senior year, if a student has the audacity to cheat after years of hard work then they should be able to cope with the repercussions of their actions. Maturity begins to come into play. If you are not prepared to do your own work in college, you are certainly not prepared for the “real world.” Why would you go through four years of school and thousands of dollars and throw it all away?

Dr. Charlie McCormick, the academic said, “When did students become so scared of their own ideas?” College is meant to be a place to express yourself and your ideas, not someone else’s. College is no joke. It’s hard, it’s expensive and it’s meant to be one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. Cutting corners might look good in the short run but getting caught risks jeopardizing your future.

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Amanda Finnegan

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