Why You Shouldn't Cheat in School

Cheating in school

Cheating in school robs everyone involved. The cheater, their peers, and the teacher are all deprived of the full benefits of education.

When a student is chasing higher grades or feeling overwhelmed by the school workload, the temptation to cheat will appear, and it's the job of the student to resist that temptation. In this article, after we explore the many reasons you shouldn't cheat in school, we'll examine the consequences that cheaters face.

Cheating in School is Wrong

If you've never cheated in school, there are plenty of reasons to keep it that way. If you have cheated, you should consider why it was wrong. Below, you'll find five reasons why cheating in school is something you shouldn't even consider doing.

Cheating Replaces Learning

When cheating in school occurs, it takes the place of learning. The whole reason we study a topic is to learn. When you claim to have prepared for an assignment, but you turn in someone else's work as your own, for example, you aren't meeting the core goal of education. A student doesn't cheat and learn—it's one or the other.

Cheating Deters Progress

Learning is a building process—lessons learned are prerequisites to understanding more advanced lessons. For example, a foundation in basic mathematics is required to comprehend algebra, and understanding algebra is a must for those who want to learn trigonometry or calculus. By cheating at any phase of the knowledge building process, you create a gap that locks you out of understanding the next level of material in the subject you're studying.

Cheating is Dishonest

When you cheat, you're claiming that you are doing the required work even though you're not doing it. That's inherently dishonest. Your teachers expect the work you turn in to be the result of your own effort. When it's not, and you say it is, that's lying.

Cheating Eliminates Enrichment

Expanding one's mind tops the list of reasons why people attend school, but to enjoy that enrichment, students must do the work themselves.

It's not just about acquiring new knowledge. Learning gives you the chance to hone your thought processes. It builds confidence in your ability to complete tasks and drives you to take on new challenges. When you learn through honest, self-motivated effort, you gain new knowledge in the subject you're studying, but you also reap numerous other benefits, like self-reliance and an appreciation for the value of hard work. Cheating eliminates all those benefits and doesn't enrich your life in any way.

Cheating is Unfair to Your Fellow Students

When teachers assess their students' work, they do so in part by comparing the work of an individual student to that of the class as a whole. If a student cheats, that comparison is skewed. For example, if given a research assignment, imagine that your classmates put in a lot of honest effort, but you found a report that someone else wrote and turned it in as your own. Maybe the report you stole is really good—in that case, your lie would make it seem like your peers didn't work as hard as you did.

The Consequences of Cheating

If you cheat, your gains will be minor and fleeting. You may have avoided some work in the near term, but negative consequences follow, and they completely overshadow any benefits you might have thought there were to cheating.

Cheating Will Stress You Out

Upcoming exams you're not ready for, reports with looming due dates, a pop quiz, more assigned reading than you can handle—those are the sorts of things that cause school-related stress. If you think you're stressed because of stuff like that, you'd be blown away by how much worse it can get if you cheat. You'll put yourself through psychological torture before, during, and after your cheating scheme. What's the root of that stress? It may be fear of being caught, but there's a more powerful pressure at work—the pressure of guilt.

Cheating is Failure Deferred

When you cheat, you're simply rescheduling your failure, pushing it down the road to a time when your lack of knowledge will catch up to you.

If you claim ownership of work that's not yours, or, if instead of studying for a test, you steal the answers, the gap in your learning will be locked in, and it will reveal itself in the next class you take. The teacher will assume you have the prerequisite knowledge, but the truth will come out as you advance into new subject matter, and a failing grade is just around the corner.

Cheating Causes Humiliation

Whether it happens when you get caught for cheating or when you display an embarrassing lack of knowledge on a subject that you were supposed to have learned, cheaters are in for some serious humiliation.

If you're caught red-handed, everyone in the class knows immediately. Even if a teacher is discrete or if your cheating was discovered long after it occurred, the news will eventually get out. Parents will be notified. Other teachers will hear about your offense. Being branded a cheater is something that will hang over your head the entire time you're in school.

Cheating Drives Other Negative Behavior

A cheater, incorrectly feeling like a winner because they gamed the system and didn't get caught, will develop a taste for shortcuts in all parts of their life. They'll find it easier to lie to friends and family, and, in some cases, what they see as their "success" in cheating will become a springboard to criminal behavior.

Cheating Destroys Trust

Cheaters can say goodbye to all the freedom that comes from earned trust. When parents and teachers trust you, you're given more latitude—they have no reason to think you'll be dishonest, so they loosen the reins and let you run free.

The moment you're caught cheating, that trust disappears. A caught cheater can prepare for intense scrutiny at school and home.

Cheating—It's Wrong and You Shouldn't Do it

For everyone involved, cheating in school removes the benefits of learning. The cheater sees no gains because they avoid the required work, their peers are robbed of fair comparative grading, and the teacher's efforts to educate are confounded.

The pressure of school gets to everybody, but don't let it drive you to cheat. If you do, the upside won't be what you expect—you'll be left with a gap in your learning and a guilty conscience, or worse. The negative consequences of cheating, even if you're not caught, are devastating.

We hope this brief look at the ethical issues related to cheating has been enlightening and that we've clearly stated that cheating is not something you should be involved in.