Parties, sleeping late and prepared meals. College life seems picturesque. However, life as a college student is not as easy as it seems. At most rigorous colleges and universities in the United States, suicide rates have been on the rise in the last 20 years. The national suicide rate among 15 to 24 year olds has “increased modestly but steadily since 2007: from 9.6 death per 100,000 to 11.1, in 2013” (Scelfo). Some institutions like Harvard, Duke, and the University of Virginia have higher suicide rates than average due to being more academically demanding schools and as a result of the constant pressure to excel, students have become more likely to cheat than ever in history. Ironically, for many students, the problem of cheating begins as early as high school in an effort to obtain a spot in these prestigious institutions.
“Statistics show that cheating among high school students has risen dramatically during the past 50 years…Today it is the above-average college bound students who are cheating. 73% of all test takers, including prospective graduate students and teachers agree that most students do cheat at some point”(Stanford). Moreover, high tuition costs and pressure to get a high paying job make students more willing to cheat on a test. “Students, instead of being able to focus on their academic development, are forced to think about little more than the impact their final grade will have on the rest of their lives and so some turn to cheating in order to ensure the best possible result” (Lodhia).
In institutions around the country, professors teach as if students are receptacles rather than teaching by getting students to engage with the material and applying it in a work situation. As Lodhia emphasizes “rather than an unhealthy fixation on final exams and coursework, universities should instead focus on the intellectual development of their students and look to create more well-rounded graduates who would arguably be better suited to contribute positively to any workplace they might enter” (Lodhia).
In an effort to reduce the stressors on today’s matriculated and future college students, and therefore reverse the upward trend of cheating, there are two effective strategies that educational administrators can implement to affect this change. One is a binding contract connecting student tuition costs to honor codes. This will be facilitated by a decreased emphasis on test scores in both secondary and higher education. A first step in this solution is to rely on the the expertise of educators about the skills needed for their students to be prepared in whatever they pursue.
Using this information, teaching styles can be adjusted to promote intrinsic motivation on the subject. Once intrinsic motivation is increased, a new system would be implemented that involves connecting student honor codes to tuition costs. In this system students will sign a binding contract, where if they are caught cheating, then their tuition cost would become incrementally higher. This would act as both a deterrent and a penalty. Students with no cheating infractions would be subject to lower tuition rates. This money that the school receives from student fines could then be used toward reduced book and student fee costs for all compliant students within the school. Moreover, combined with a system of fines, an honor code system such as the one Agnes Scott College uses would limit cheating.
As Elizabeth Kiss, the president of the college states, “it’s about creating a culture which focuses on membership in the community being connected with academic honesty, and then also having the critical conversations that reinforce that culture” (Barthel). In other words, narrowing class sizes down is beneficial for the student too as it creates a bond between the teacher and student. Fusion Academy, a private school in New Jersey, is an example of an institution which specializes in a one-on-one classroom setting where teaching styles accommodate learners, thus ending the stressors that cause cheating.
An additional strategy to reduce the prevalence of cheating is to fund student attendance in structured private or boarding-type schools within home communities. Most importantly, these schools are not required to follow Common Core standards and are consequently able to implement more hands on learning experiences outside the classroom. In addition, private or boarding schools provide a sense of community and trust that public schools are not as likely to offer. In order to get more students to attend these schools, municipal and county district boards would fund this system through a series of bonds.
The increase in student achievement would help to increase real estate costs, allowing the system to essentially fund itself. “Students are less likely to cheat when they hold mastery goals or perceive a mastery goal structure…students who endorse mastery goals and/or who perceive a mastery goal structure in a particular class are less likely to engage in academically dishonest behaviors in that class” (Anderman and Koenka 97). Classes where a grading system consists of only exams needs to be removed from institutions. The best place to implement such a system would be introduced at a public school since it is funded by the state. Therefore it is important to raise the taxes.
As outlined in the proposal, the implementation of these programs will help to address the growing issue of cheating in schools and colleges. Instituting an honor contract that is connected to tuition rates, acts as a deterrent from cheating. Additionally, the excess funding from the rise on tuition will be used to compensate book and student fee costs for compliant students. The implementation of lower class sizes through the development of private or boarding schools in communities will be accomplished through municipal bond funding and once student achievement increases in communities, the tax base for the real estate in these communities will allow them to essentially fund themselves.
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