In the wake of arguably the worst college cheating scandal to date, all eyes are on the nation's elites. Lori Loughlin is on TV more now than in the prime days of Full House, and some of Hollywood's most well-known names are being photographed in handcuffs. This scandal has ignited the world in a frenzy of anger toward wealthy families and bribery.
While those accusations and frustrations are understandable, maybe attention should be redirected to cheating in general. Cheating at elite colleges runs rampant, and more often than not, professors and other students turn a blind eye.
Most universities and colleges in the United States function off of their own honor code. The hope is that the punishment for being caught cheating and the desire to respect the university's reputation will deter students from being dishonest. As great as it sounds, this just isn't the case. While it is nauseating to think about a mom bribing a school with half of a million dollars to get her daughter admitted, the real issue is much larger.
According to an article published by plagarism.org, approximately 95% of college students admit to participating in some form of cheating during their time in school. If 95% of students are breaking the rules, doesn't it make you think that there may be an issue with the system?
Imagine this — you're taking 15 credit hours (the equivalent of 5 classes) at a top university, you're working part-time to pay for housing, food, and school, you're volunteering on campus with an organization you're passionate about, you're a member of four other clubs to strengthen your resume, and you're actively looking for and applying to summer internships — all while trying to maintain a healthy social balance, work out regularly, and eat decent foods.
You stumble into "midterm week" knowing that one test determines 30% of your final grade and there is absolutely no room for error. Halfway through the test, you look up and see a row of students in front of you discretely passing an answer sheet from one friend to the next. You look to the left and see another student reading answers from their Apple watch.
You hear stories of your friend's sororities and fraternities having copies of old tests and quizzes. You know these students will score higher than you despite your lack of sleep and days spent studying — and worst of all, they never get caught. How would you stay motivated? Wouldn't you be tempted? Why would you get out of bed every single day and bust your butt just to score 20 points lower on an exam than a dishonest neighbor?
This is a dilemma college students face every single day. Doesn't a statistic of 95% make you want to do something? Maybe the level of stress placed on students at top schools isn't pushing them to their full potential, but rather, pushing them to cheat, and consequently, learn nothing. How are such distinguished universities maintaining their reputation when their students are dishonest? What happens when their grads enter the real world and have no idea how to do anything for themselves?
The college admissions scandal should not be ignored. It shouldn't be minimized or overlooked, but it should start a greater conversation about integrity and efficiency on college campuses. It should make all of us start to brainstorm positive changes that can be made on campus. It may never be perfect, but it HAS to be better.