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Caught Cheating In College — Is It Really Worth It?

Updated: June 19, 2024 | Published: May 23, 2020

Updated: June 19, 2024

Published: May 23, 2020


For decades, the number of students who admit to cheating in college has remained somewhat consistent. Despite new technology and wider access to education, students are still caught cheating in college. In fact, about 75% of students in college admit to cheating. But this number could be more because some students may not even know what constitutes cheating.

Cheating has severe consequences, especially in college. Let’s break down some of the ways in which students cheat, why they cheat, and what could happen when they get caught.

Student taking a test
Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

The Different Names For Cheating

Cheating in college can be called a variety of names. They include: unauthorized assistance, honor code violation, unauthorized collaborating, and more. Just as there are many names for cheating, there are also many ways students try to get away with it.

10 Different Ways That Students Cheat

Here’s a look at the various ways in which students cheat. If you’re caught committing any of the following, you can face serious consequences.

1. Parents Do The Work

While it’s okay to ask your parents for assistance, especially for feedback on college admissions personal statements, it is not okay for them to write anything for you. When you allow your parents to do your work, not only do you lose out on learning, but you also are cheating because you are taking credit for someone else’s work.

2. Falsifying Scores And Data

When you submit your college admissions application, you’ll likely have to provide standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and the like. Do not falsify these records as it’s not hard to find out. College admissions committees are well versed in this type of information and if they suspect it’s not honest, you can lose any chance of being admitted to any college.

3. Copying Another’s Work

One of the simplest and most common forms of cheating is when a student copies another student’s work. Whether this is during a test or on homework, it’s considered cheating because, once again, it is taking credit for another person’s work.

4. Using Phones

It’s likely you take tests with your phone nearby. Avoid using your phone to look up answers during a test of any kind.

5. Changing Answers On A Test Before A Re-Grade

If you are submitting your test to be re-graded and you change answers to earn a higher score, you are cheating.

6. Forging A Faculty Member’s Signature

Some students forge a faculty member’s signature on documentation. Any forgery is considered a punishable offense by both universities and the law.

7. Plagiarism

Using someone else’s ideas or words as your own is plagiarism. There are many ways by which a professor or teacher can spot plagiarized work.

8. Selling Tests And Answers

Some students even choose to make money off of cheating by selling tests and answers.

9. Using Prohibited Resources / Unapproved Materials On Take-Home Exams

For those who attend online college, there are usually guidelines as to what can and cannot be used on tests. Additionally, for take-home tests, there are dos and don’ts. Failing to abide by the rules is considered cheating.

10. Not Citing Sources

If you borrow information or a quote from a source, but you fail to cite the source, then it’s a form of plagiarism.

Reasons People Cheat

Point blank, there is no right reason to cheat. While caring about your grades is definitely important, it only matters when you do so with integrity. There are a variety of reasons why students cheat, some of which include:

  • Want a good grade
  • Aren’t prepared enough
  • Possess a fear of failure
  • Think they won’t be caught
  • Poor time management
  • Uninterested in material and therefore didn’t try or study

What Actually Happens When You Get Caught Cheating In College

So, what happens if you get caught cheating in college? The actual consequence of what will happen to you when you are caught cheating depends on multiple factors, including: the academic institution’s policy, the offense that was committed, whether or not you admit to being guilty or not, and so on.

Here are some of the common consequences of cheating.

  • Class Failure: You fail the class and may not have an option to retake it.
  • Suspension: You are temporarily kicked out of the institution.
  • Expulsion: You are permanently kicked out of the institution.
  • Legal Consequences: You face legal punishment in the form of a fine or worse.
  • Revoked Scholarships: If you have any scholarship awards, you may lose them if you are caught cheating.
  • Academic Reputation: You may have the offense input into your academic record which could impact your future application to undergraduate or graduate school.
Students in a library studying
Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Alternatives To Cheating

Cheating may be an alluring idea, but the fact of the matter is, it’s not worth it. Instead of cheating, try to:

  • Learn the material
  • Study hard and create study groups with peers
  • Get a tutor or ask a professor for extra office hours
  • Believe in yourself
  • Don’t give up!

The Bottom Line

There are so many ways to avoid cheating. No matter what or how you want to cheat, the negative consequences outweigh any potential benefits. At the end of the day, you’re doing yourself a disservice by cheating because the information you absorb and know will last a lifetime. Earning your higher education is something to be proud of, and you can do so with integrity and willpower!

At UoPeople, our blog writers are thinkers, researchers, and experts dedicated to curating articles relevant to our mission: making higher education accessible to everyone.