Competition leads to academic dishonesty

Student+attempts+to+plagiarize+off+of+Spark+Notes+for+an+AP+Lit+essay+over+the+Shakespeare+Nobel%2C+Macbeth.

Donnelle Branche

Student attempts to plagiarize off of Spark Notes for an AP Lit essay over the Shakespeare Nobel, Macbeth.

Riley Laurence, Staff Reporter

In the race to get the highest grades and class rank, some students resort to cheating or plagiarism to catapult them above their classmates. It doesn’t have to be the stereotypical “let me copy your homework” as plagiarism can be taking someone’s ideas. But the decision to cheat, copy or steal the work of others can affect not only someone’s high school career, but their college career as well.

“We refer to cheating in the handbook as academic dishonesty and for major grades we actually have a policy that we follow that if someone is caught committing academic dishonesty on a  major, test, project, or something considered a major grade by the teacher, a couple of things happen,” assistant principal Bruce Coachman said. “Number one: they still have to do the assignment, but the highest grade that can be achieved is a 50, and number two: they typically spend a day in ISS and that’s for the first time that they do it.”

Most students know academic dishonesty can have disciplinary consequences on the high school level, but committing plagiarism in high school can affect a student’s future.

“If a college were to discover that an applicant had plagiarized, then a few things usually happen,” college and career counselor Randy Trevino said. “First, most colleges would allow the applicant to explain their situation and to submit requisite information. The next step would be for the school to conduct an official committee review to decide the applicant’s fate.”

Knowing that somebody has partaken in plagiarism for whatever reasons, may it be laziness or an inefficient use of time, it makes it tough to justify why they should be accepted into a position that some of the other students who have not plagiarized deserve more.”

— AP English Language teacher Jasen Eairheart

While plagiarism does not automatically prevent acceptance into college, it can come with drastic consequences.

“It makes a difference as to where in the process the applicant is: applicant still waiting for a decision, or an applicant who has been admitted,” Trevino said. “Possibilities for decisions post-review could be a denial of admission or an admission revocation.”

But even before a college can determine a student’s fate, teachers of students who plagiarize have something to think about when the college application process begins.

“Being a junior English teacher, I end up writing a lot of recommendation letters,” AP English Language teacher Jasen Eairheart said. “Knowing that somebody has partaken in plagiarism for whatever reasons, may it be laziness or an inefficient use of time, it makes it tough to justify why they should be accepted into a position that some of the other students who have not plagiarized deserve more. How am I going to put them above some of the other students when I’m writing recommendations for scholarships and college and things like that?”

Although cheating and plagiarism can lead to trouble, a student can survive academic dishonesty.

“It’s something that definitely can taint you, but on the other hand, it is something that you can work to overcome,” Eairheart said. “Getting caught cheating is not like a be-all end-all, but it definitely can have ramifications behind it.”

In order to address the act of dishonesty, students are advised to attach a letter explaining the incident to the colleges being applied to.

“College applications, whether via Apply Texas, Common App, or school-specific, typically include questions about prior issues with cheating, plagiarism, etc, and it’s up to the applicant to disclose the information,” Trevino said. “As an applicant who has plagiarized, it would be good to have a written statement that explains personal and academic growth since the incident and what you may have done to rectify the situation.”

Plagiarism can ruin students’ educational careers and even get them kicked out of organizations like National Honor Society. However, students can work to display that their mistake does not define them.

“As a junior, for example,” said Eairheart. “You still have the rest of junior year and senior year to put what you did behind you and work to show that it is not who you are, but rather one minor lapse in judgement.”