Cheaters Never Win… Except When They Do
Today I took (and passed) my first test in my Accounting Essentials program. Since it’s a distance learning program, I completed the exam on paper and entered my answers onto the website to be graded and recorded. It was slightly nerve-wracking since I haven’t taken a test like that for somewhere around 7 years, but I completed it with good results and have nothing to complain about. While I was punching my calculator and scribbling notes over lunch, my coworker came up to me and said “You know, you can get all those answers on Answers.com.” It would be an easy way to get an easy A.
I’m one of many who cheated in school. It started out as sneaking glances into my textbook during an exam while the teacher was looking the other way or peeking at a neighbor’s paper to see if my answer matched theirs. In high school, I shared in a passed note containing the test answers a couple of times. I also learned how to input answers into my graphing calculator to pull up later. A few girls, who were later caught cheating, started printing the answers out in very small font and taping that small bit of paper to water bottles to keep on their desks during exams. In college, I didn’t cheat to benefit my grades, but I did write term papers for various people in exchange for money or beer.
Obviously cheating is wrong, spare the lectures. But if we’re being totally honest here, sometimes cheating can be pretty harmless. Sometimes you forget to study for a portion of the test. Sometimes you study the wrong thing. Sometimes you’re so overwhelmed with information that must be learned that you can’t immediately cram it all into your brain in time for that crucial exam. Maybe you forgot to do your homework. Perhaps the in-class assignment is beyond your understanding so you partner with the smart kid and let him supply the answers. Once in a while, it’s nice to have a bit of assistance. I’m in no way suggesting that everyone start brainstorming creative ways to beat the system because there are very serious consequences if you’re busted, but I see nothing wrong with copying someone’s homework answers down the morning before class after you realize you completely forgot to do an assignment due in 5 minutes. Once in a while.
Obviously I could get an easy A by visiting various sites supplying answers, as well as quickly finish my program by researching the answers beforehand and submitting them as soon as I was able. I would absolutely love to get this program done with at lightning speed so I can put more on my resume other than “enrolled” or “in process.” I’d love to be able to say a month from now that I finally have that coveted piece of paper from an accredited school that says I officially know what I’m doing. Sadly, this is one of those things that sounds too good to be true, and whenever you can say that about something, it’s probably not worth doing.
Accounting is math. Lots and lots of math. And letters pretending to be numbers. Oh, and weird terminology. You can’t fake math. Either I learn this stuff now or I don’t learn it at all. I’m paying a nice chunk of cash out of my pocket for this education and not just so I can get a piece of paper saying I’m certified, but so I can get a better job in the field I’m currently in and make more money while I decide what to learn next. Maybe I feel different about cheating now that it’s my beer money that is paying for my education rather than the HOPE Scholarship, but there is no way in hell I will be tempted into taking any shortcuts with this program. Maybe I’ve grown up a bit as well, who knows.
The point is, cheating my way through this means throwing my money away and embarrassing myself with future employers when they discover that my education didn’t teach me a thing because I’m unable to work my way through a problem without a reference guide or a workbook. I won’t do it for the same reason I won’t put “certified mechanic” on my resume; if I don’t know how to do something, a piece of paper stating that I can isn’t going to make it true. Although imagine the possibilities if writings words on paper translated into reality….. I suppose that’s a whole other story…