Editorials and Opinions

CON: Opposing Views – Is it okay to cut corners in schoolwork?

By Gabe Feldstein
Published: March 2009

In all good conscience

Every Monday morning, millions of children across the country wake up. They slouch to school no matter how sick of it they may be in order to learn enough to become important members of society. After all, school is meant to cultivate individuals who can survive and prosper in the real world.

Today, however, a certain competitiveness is associated with the educational process. It has become increasingly apparent, for instance, in daunting standardized tests, like the SATs, which have juniors signing up for class after class to raise their scores.

This tense atmosphere carries into the classroom as well. Students obsess over grades to the point when they feel forced to compromise understanding for higher marks to save time.

Students turn into memorization robots, temporarily processing and spitting out information on tests, only to forget that material the day after. After the assessment, the entire unit is simply forgotten.

The problem is, cutting corners is a natural result of today’s school environment. In the midst of all the academic rivalry, it seems like the only option for success, especially in high-level courses.

For the fatigued student, it’s fast, it’s simple, and it’s a way to keep grade averages high. But resorting to such measuers spoils opportunities to learn.

It is simply not worth it to cheat through Honors and AP classes, copying work instead of comprehending it, because such a method will only ultimately hurt a student. If students avoid actually learning material and choose to cut corners and take shortcuts in their education, they completely defeat the purpose.

Students who shortcut their way through school miss out on valuable chances to expand. Whether on nightly homework assignments or on tests and quizzes, they miss out on chances to expand their realm of knowledge and increase their cognitive abilities. They mindlessly copy rather than fully understand the material.

When students start cutting corners in their schoolwork, they should reconsider the courses they take, their grades, and whether they are receiving the full benefits of them. A potentially higher GPA is simply not worth a spoiled education.

Also, cheating negatively affects the honest. Those who cut corners have an easier time getting good grades than those who don’t, which, from an objective perspective, makes them appear to be better students.

After all, the college applications of kids who copy-and-pasted their way through high school are mailed alongside those of students who worked thoroughly and painstakingly.

It is unfair, but often happens, that the latter may end up drawing the short straw. Even if they genuinely fit colleges’ criteria, if their grades aren’t quite as good as those of the less honest, they could lose their place in a college they wanted to attend.

Ultimately, taking shortcuts in schoolwork spoils the educational system. It allows students to survive in courses where they do not fully understand or absorb the material.

As well, it generates unnecessary competition for honest students in the academic arena. And finally, it undercuts the real goal of education, preventing students from reaching an adequate level of comprehension.

Students who cut corners take the easy way out, but suffer in the long run. It’s not worth it.

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