The internet is a strong ally of academia, but it can also be its number one enemy. With the rise of technological use, academic cheating is a more pressing issue than ever before. Students have easier access to answers, more options of websites that facilitate cheating and are more likely to get away with it all. After the pandemic initially struck America in the early stages of 2020, high schools and colleges nationwide turned to the internet to continue teaching. Typically using apps like Teams and Skype, teachers were faced with more difficulties when monitoring the class. Consequently, cheating became easier for students. Even now, when many schools are no longer predominantly virtual, students still find ways to inappropriately use technology to get by in class. 

Quickly searching up the answer has never been easier with the endless number of resources the internet has to offer. Especially for subjects like math and science, where the solutions are more cut and dry, cheating with technology simplifies many class assignments. Even for more subjective answers, like essays, plagiarism is becoming increasingly more common. The replication of essays and articles available with just one google search, while some can be detected with certain software, is an enticing and effortless alternative to spending days on a paper. 

Another popular method of cheating is simply paying someone else to complete complicated or difficult assignments. It’s no secret that the internet makes communicating and connecting with others drastically easier. For this exact reason, students are more likely to come into contact with people willing to write essays or take exams in return for money. According to a study conducted by Educational Testing Service (ETS) and Ad Council, one of the most notorious paper mill websites, schoolsucks.com, receives 8,000 visitors a day. This number, while fairly large, is small in comparison to the full magnitude of interaction with these kinds of businesses. 

Catering towards other subjects, companies like Chegg and CourseHero are flourishing due to the increasing demands for homework and test answers. For exams administered online, some have even logged in as their student employer to answer the questions instead, which can be a surprisingly successful stunt.

Teachers have a challenging time surveying the online activity of their students, especially outside of the classroom. Supported by Ad Council’s and ETS’ study, an astounding  95% of academic cheaters today are never caught. Unless the desks are strategically flipped so that the computer screen of each student is visible, cheating on online quizzes or tests often isn’t a difficult feat. With take-home assignments like essays and projects, it’s nearly impossible for teachers to prove any cheating, excluding plagiarism, has occurred. Without consequences, students have less of an incentive to abide by the rules, and thus, cheating becomes a normalized habit of many students. 

Others could argue that because students have been cheating for generations, the current problem isn’t nearly as bad as many would make it out to be. Considering how common cheating was before technology’s role in education grew, the internet isn’t fully to blame for the regular practice amongst students. Contrary to what teachers insist upon, cheating itself doesn’t have any significant harm on the cheater. Successful people in powerful positions have undoubtedly cheated at least a couple times throughout their life, so the negative stigma around it is false. 

However, while cheating has always been an issue in academia, technology has undoubtedly added more fuel to the fire. Confirmed by a psychology professor, Stephen Davis, at Emporia State University, the percentage of college students admitting to cheating in high school has jumped from 20% in 1940 to 75%, at the minimum, in the present day. Cheating is practically encouraged now that students can raise their Grade Point Average (GPA) without consequence. 

Considering no student is perfect, wrongdoings are inevitable, but relying on those wrongdoings to pass can create an unhealthy and harmful approach towards accomplishing other goals in life. While the numbers might look good on a resume, frequent cheating is setting students up for failure in the long run. Cheating often counteracts retainment of information from the class, so students who depend on cheating hardly learn any of the material. 

While the actions of other students can’t be controlled, keep the long-term consequences of cheating in mind the next time googling the answers seems tempting. For schools, going the extra mile to research and implement potential safeguards on online tests and quizzes would be a great start at reducing the influx of academic cheating. 

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