Shalhevet School

Opinion: Fighting the pressure to cheat

As I have started high school the fear of the future has overcome me, introducing a type of peer pressure I did not expect: the very popular idea of cheating.

In middle school this was incomprehensible to me, as no one really cared enough about a grade to be caught cheating and face the possibility of worse consequences. High school, on the other hand, is a whole new ball game.

The circumstances and people around me have changed immensely. Many people I talk to are trying to get an A and frankly do not care about what they have to do to get it. For some people I know, this may mean studying until 2 a.m. Others may just peek at the desk beside them.

What is the person who studied supposed to do if someone has easy access to cheat off their answers, especially when the last thing he or she is worrying about during a test is the person on their right copying the answer to question number two?

I have heard many people try to justify cheating. “Everybody does it sometimes.” “It’s not like I’m ever going to need this information anyway, why should I have to memorize it?”

The ultimate problem with this logic and ideology is that not only are you going against your teacher, but you are minimizing the effort of the person who studied, and taking credit you did not deserve for a performance that was not yours. The hours of the person who studied have now become your seconds.

It is true that school can be very stressful and students are constantly looking for a more efficient way to get ahead. I once read a Bill Gates quote that stuck with me: “I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

At this point, for a significant number of my classmates, cheating has become a productive way to achieve good grades. Now it is having a ripple effect, creating a new form of peer pressure.

This is not the type of peer pressure where all of your friends are claiming that they are vape gods and therefore you should be one too. No — this is about following someone else’s negative actions to achieve positive results. While I’m staying up trying to memorize a song about cells, they’re on YouTube watching David Dobrik interview Jeffree Star: should I be doing this too?

It’s an interesting battle to be fighting as a 15-year-old, yet a very present one. It sometimes may even feel impossible to ignore when there are so many other things on my mind constantly making me nervous.

Sometimes I will be sleeping, enjoying my weekend, until suddenly my worries will arise, leaving nothing else to focus on other than, “Am I participating in enough co-curriculars? Are my grades high enough? Will that one B-plus prevent me from ever going to the college of my choice?”

Teachers try to convince students that grades are not as important as they may think. Due to the difficulty of accepting this fact, and the added ease of depending on a grade to measure self-worth, students still search for an alternative, maybe even immoral, route to succeed.

High school feels like a trail of doubt. Every step of the way has an impact, yet the real fear is what would have, could have, or even should have happened if I had done this. What would be different if I had just cheated on that math quiz?  

An interesting question but impossible to answer.

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