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April 12, 2024

Cheaters never prosper? - Lack of integrity has only hastened this pre-med's successes

By Anonymous | March 14, 2002

I cheat. Often. Papers, exams, you name it... if you can bend or break the rules around them, I've done it. Thanks to my labors, I probably have a GPA much higher than any of you. What price have I paid? Almost none.

In fact, my efforts have only paid dividends. I'll be graduating with both general and departmental honors. I'll probably be selected for Phi Beta Kappa in May. In the last few months, I've been admitted to a handful of med schools in the top 15 rankings.

I'm the first one to acknowledge it's a dangerous choice to do what I've done. Worries of failed classes or even expulsion have haunted me for years now, but you get used to them. Besides, most profs are either too busy or too aloof to give a damn about whether a student falsified his sources on a term paper.

Sure, there are risks. Freshman year, I ran into a little trouble. There was this language course I took - I don't know why - that expected an extended paper. So I borrowed this long text from a Web site in said language, printed it out and turned it in. Having stumbled my way through the class much of the semester, even the not-so-sharp TA noticed something was up. A quick search online turned up that paper. I was confronted with the evidence shortly thereafter. Sucked for me, right? Not exactly.

You see, I wasn't expelled or suspended from school. They didn't even fail me. Same TA tells me a letter describing the events would be kept "in my file," but would be otherwise ignored unless I became a repeat offender. Maybe that was supposed to scare me straight, I don't know. All it did was destroy any respect for the academic standards this school supposedly stood for.

I certainly don't buy that bullshit about my losing out on an education. I've learned plenty. I study, where, when and how I chose to. Hell, cutting corners on those ridiculous assignments has probably freed up my time to learn about more relevant information.

Anybody who thinks college has something to teach them has more to learn than any professor could provide. I dropped that illusion early on, and the rewards have been incalculable.

To top it off, the TA even let me re-do the presentation with only a minor penalty. I ended up with an A- in the course and was hardly the worse for wear.

Why cheat? Well, it's funny because on those times I have completed the work, I've done pretty well. But sometimes, with all sorts of commitments hanging over my head, schoolwork really just doesn't seem worth the effort. That's especially so when the professors very obviously don't care whether we learn or not. And that's generally the case.

Certainly the pre-professional culture has something to do with it. When it comes to med school, it's all about MCATs and grades. I couldn't do much about the test, but since the beginning, it's been all about the ends. When you've got 20 credits on your plate, plus research or community service, and only a 3.9 will do, who has time to worry about the morality of it all? Once I get my M.D., am I really, truly going to boo-hoo over the papers I plagiarized or the answers I stole? Come on.

Not that those entering the job force are immune. A recruiter from J.P. Morgan came onto campus last week to describe how his firm selects potential interviewees. In order to gauge an applicant's intelligence, he said they depended heavily upon their grade point average. It's all about the results, they tell us. So long as the numbers add up, nobody's going to ask about our methods.

I'm not proud of what I've done. The fact that I'm writing this anonymously should tip you off as to whether I'd ever admit to it publicly. Few, if any, of my friends are aware. Certainly my parents aren't. But the thing is, I look back upon four years of cut corners and broken rules and see that it's been worth it.

Any discomfort with my actions is more than offset by the tangible benefits. Sure, I'll never know whether I could've made it this far "on my own." The question is, having gotten into the best schools and received all the plaudits I could've hoped for, have I sacrificed anything?

The bottom line is this: Med schools, law schools, employers, parents. take your pick. They don't care how you get the grades. Why should we?

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