I'm not going to sit here and type this pretending to be an innocent student. No. I've cheated before. I've cheated a lot of times. How often have I copied someone's answers? I honestly don't think I have before. But how often have I let someone else copy off of me because their grade depended on it? Countless times. Cheating is cheating and I'm not trying to justify it but the trend I'm noticing is a lot more than just the occasional peek.
There are a few classes in particular this semester that are heavily weighted on exams. Normally, for a science or math class, it would be fine since students can't possibly memorize every potential problem. But what if they were linear exams? Instead of problems that require critical thinking, they're questions involving a recollection of facts. This might be okay until you realize the format of the test.
In one of my science classes, exams come straight from the book. The text doesn't come with solutions but do you honestly think it's too difficult to look for solutions? It's not. I found them. And before school administration reads this and tries to expel me, I'll have you know I didn't download them. In fact, I wasn't even looking for the solutions. I needed the textbook and I was still waiting for Amazon to ship so I did a quick Google search for a PDF version. Interestingly enough, I didn't find the text, only the solutions. You don't think the professor knows PDF versions of the solutions manual are out there? Of course he knows. So that begs the question - why tell us how the exams are going to be written? Because it isn't a traditional exam. No one cares if you know how to do a problem! In the real world, Wikipedia is your best friend. Memorizing equations is a waste of time! The exams aren't about showing what you know. They're not even exams. The whole class is just a social experiment. This professor is one of the smartest people I've ever met. Why would he tell us NOT to look for the solution manual on the first day of class? Because it's easy as hell to do it. He tells us not to do something so that we'll have the urge to do it. Come test day, the people who do the best are those who studied the hardest - be it form their notes, or from the solution manual. But this is a science class involving critical thinking.
Let's consider a much more linear class. One where the exams are multiple choice - answering questions with facts. No math, no science, just facts. I think most people would agree these exams are incredibly difficult. You can read the text a million times and there will still be something you missed. These exams aren't about your 'intelligence' because all the questions come from the text. But these exams aren't about reading comprehension either because the questions aren't about the big picture. They're about the nitty-gritty details; things that you're apathetic about; facts that don't matter to anyone. This describes a different class I'm taking this semester and to make matters worse, the exams are online (but in-class).
So what's the point?! You can study for 15 hours and explain the concepts of US Politics like a professional but have no idea if Obama's dog is right-pawed or left-pawed. Or you can drink a beer and know that you can just have an extra tab open on Chrome when you take the test. This describes my predicament.
I studied my ass off for an exam where the material would not affect my life in any way. Bozo, sitting next to me, got drunk before coming to class. Get our scores back and he does better than me. Actually, more than half the people do better than me. I know I have a pretty big ego, but there is no way in hell half the class knew more than me. I've taken enough tests in my life to be certain of this. Why does it matter? Because the class is curved based on the median. Getting below the median is not good.
The entire class is based on exams. No homework, no group projects, no essays. Just exams. And they're all online. So once the semester closes, what does my grade represent? Does it represent how hard I've worked? Or does it represent how little I've cheated? It's without a doubt the latter which is why this situation is disheartening.
I've lost motivation in a lot of my classes because it just doesn't matter anymore. I could learn a ton and get a C or I could learn nothing and get an A. Professors want us to be on our honor but no one gives a shit about honor or integrity. Except me. I do. Instead of getting an A by cheating, I would rather get a D by working harder than everyone else.
Which will more than likely happen.
But maybe I'm missing the big picture. Maybe this is what life after college is all about. You don't get a job promotion because you work hard. You get a job promotion because you care about the coffee the boss drinks or the magazine the manager likes to read. In the superficial society we live in today, maybe I should just get with the program and conform.
I like to think I'm better than that.