I think that students cheat primarily because our society rewards appearances more than realities. All of the emphasis is on how you look, not on who you really are. We reward people for their degrees and good credentials so much more than we reward them for becoming educated, that it’s no wonder students take shortcuts. As much as we laugh at the online services that shamelessly trade academic degrees for cash, maybe they’re not so far off; maybe some students really should just buy their degrees and avoid having to put on the charade of getting an education.
As much as I love learning myself, I recognize that there are people who do not share that love and whose lives will not be improved by passing through an educational system they neither value nor respect. Many of these people will go on to lives that make no use of what they would or would not have learned in college, so making them attend college just for appearances is a waste of time and resources. It will only serve to reinforce their beliefs that education is merely part of the game they have to play to succeed in life. Instead of polishing their resumes at the cost of their integrity, they would do better to skip college and learn instead to be honest and decent human beings.This essay was originally written on December 11, 2005. © Copyright 2001 by Louis Bloomfield. All rights reserved.