Cheating Harvard Students

Cheating Students, Students at Harvard, Harvard Cheaters

Students across American college campuses cheat. Not just at Harvard (photo credit: chensiyuan).

Harvard students aren’t the only ones who cheat. There’s an article in “The New Republic” entitled “Students Everywhere Cheat – Not Just Harvard’s Freshmen” that details just how many American high school students admit to having cheated on tests and homework assignments. And, of course, since cheaters aren’t exactly the most honest people, imagine how many also cheat but don’t own up to it! According to the article in “The New Republic,” “In a survey published Thursday in the Harvard Crimson, 42 percent of incoming freshmen admitted to having cheated on a homework assignment in high school and 10 percent admitted to cheating on an exam.” Just think of the real numbers!

The article in “The New Republic” also discusses SparkNotes quite a bit, a company founded by Harvard graduates of course. All Harvard students polled by the writer of this article admitted to using SparkNotes in one way or the other while in high school. But is using SparkNotes cheating? Admittedly, some high school students use SparkNotes instead of reading the actual texts, but others use SparkNotes in addition to reading the texts to gain a better understanding. Understanding Shakespeare, after all, is tough stuff.

According to the article in “The New Republic,” “SparkNotes itself denies its role as a cheating aid. ‘We’re here to help you learn, not to help you cheat,’ the site claims. ‘Sometimes you don’t understand your teacher, your textbooks make no sense, and you have to read sixteen chapters by tomorrow. SparkNotes is a resource you can turn to when you’re confuzzled.'” We happen to agree. Copying homework assignments and using crib sheets on tests — now that’s cheating. Using SparkNotes? It’s not cheating. And, contrary to what the writer of the article opines, it’s not even cheating yourself. Without SparkNotes, many students would have no clue what “Hamlet” is about. With SparkNotes, they might remember some of the themes of “Hamlet” for years to come — well after high school.


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1 Comment

  • Concerned parent says:

    You’re kidding! A categorical ‘Using Spark Notes is not cheating?’ Isn’t that a very simplistic statement that can not be true in many situations?

    How about the student that never reads the text in question but uses the work of Spark Notes for papers – isn’t that a form of plagiarism/cheating if not cited.

    If Spark Notes are merely stating the most obvious regarding literary devices, themes, sub-themes, conflicts… and the teacher does not cover these, then there are more critical issues that Spark Notes can be used to identify those issues to the school.

    How about the student that brings Spark Notes into an open note test situation in high school as his/her own notes? That’s cheating. This student is at a top Ivy.

    Maybe these schools should embrace real Honor Codes that bind the students, professors/teachers, employees and one that requires members to report violations and that they are acted upon.

    Not like Larry Summers as President of Harvard allegedly stated to the Winkelvoss twins – that whatever code they had only dealt with how students treat the University not one another.
    Not like the Water Buffalo incident (albeit a supposed hate crime not honor code incident) at Penn wherein the university obstructed the defense of its student

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