Scholarship News

Survey: 1 in 5 Harvard Graduates Cheated in Studies

June 2, 2015
by Suada Kolovic
There have been countless movie and television show plots surrounding different forms of academic dishonestly but in real life, cheating is more common than you think...even at Ivy League institutions.

There have been countless movie and television show plots surrounding different forms of academic dishonestly but in real life, cheating is more common than you think...even at Ivy League institutions.

According to an annual survey of graduating seniors by the Harvard Crimson newspaper, roughly 20 percent of the students surveyed said they had cheated in their studies while at Harvard. Of those who reported cheating, 90 percent did so on a problem set or homework assignment, 27 percent on a paper or take-home exam and 30 percent on an in-class exam. The survey also found that recruited athletes were about twice as likely to have said that they cheated as the rest of the class, as were members of male final clubs. So how many of that 20 percent have been reprimanded or placed on academic probation? Not many: Only 5 percent of graduating seniors reported having been caught been the Administrative Board for any type of disciplinary issue. (For more on this surveys’ findings, head over to the Harvard Crimson.)

What's being done at your school to limit academic dishonesty? Do you have any suggestions on how to make these methods more effective? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Truth to Will W. Midshipman  on  6/24/2015 1:54:59 PM commented:

Your so funny and full of it. Naval leadership is non existent and cheating, scamming, theiving and down right lies everywhere. You are very naive to say that about midshipmen cheating has always been there it only gets attention and they decide to hold people accountable is when it gets to the point where they can not keep it in house. Easiest way is media attention then they will step in and say they are holding them responsible other than that no one cares. Also yes, I am a retired vet 40 years old going back to college now. I am shocked at the attitudes that students have. Most cheat, most always have an excuse for the teachers for why they can not do the homework or show up to class. One thing that angers me is seeing how these professor do not know how to handle these kids. I have seen three occasions where students are complaining to the professor about their grades and each time watch the professor give an A, a pass on a midterm test, also final grade go from B to an A.

Sofia A.  on  6/16/2015 4:53:08 PM commented:

I'll admit I graduated from one of the top 100 U.S. universities with 3 majors all in different fields in my 4 years at that institution. I admit to cheating in certain courses whether it was sticking a sticky note into the back of a calculator top, systematically working with 3-7 people on a take home final/assignment, or asking an upper-classman for their finals that they had the semester before when the same professor taught it. It's much more common in certain fields such as the sciences whether it's bio, chem, econ, finance, mech eng, ...the list goes on. Even in the grad courses I took at my uni, the grad student came to me and under-classman to ask for help on an exam. The university system is flawed due to everyone trying to out-rank each other and the quality of teachers have diminished significantly. I can't count how many times I've had several Ivy League graduates as professors who are extremely smart but can't teach even if their life depended on it! Its a broken system!

Emily W.  on  6/9/2015 10:43:09 PM commented:

That's what happens when students are put under pressure by ridiculously high standards.

Bryan F.  on  6/9/2015 6:39:18 AM commented:

There's a reason why student cheat. I don't solely think the motive is laziness or unable to comprehend the materials. Student cheat because the school curriculum established a grade system that are unattainable. Instead of encouraging a student to learn the subject they are forced to adapt and improvise methods to pass a class. I blame it on the board of education.

Will W.  on  6/8/2015 9:56:37 PM commented:

"A midshipman will not lie, cheat, or steal, not tolerate those who do." - US Naval Academy Honor Concept. You will be kicked out any service academy for cheating AND tolerating it in other. The military and our country needs leaders in battle and in the workplace who can be trusted with our nations top secrets. Cheating at anything in life from a pop-quiz to plagiarism on a paper violates personal integrity and circumvents true learning. I was a C to B midshipman but have the greatest education because I did not cheat.

Steven H.  on  6/4/2015 12:54:29 PM commented:

Most people in the comments say cheating is bad - and I agree that it is. But it is something that is so common in college, that I doubt it's something so shocking. Some below were saying that varied tests with the same questions just in different orders would solve the problem of cheaters but I've seen that it doesn't. I've had buddies in my Chemistry II class that were able to pull off one of the highest grades (75) on our exams just by sitting next to really smart students - while the class average was a 45. But, as others have said - most have no desire to study for a subject they don't care about or will never use in their careers.

Steven H  on  6/4/2015 12:46:39 PM commented:

What surprises me most is the amount of grammatical errors in most of the posts below.

Rodger D  on  6/4/2015 12:13:47 AM commented:

Cheating is merely a symptom of a system that doesn't work as it should. It relies too much on grades and gpa and not enough on learning. Students cheat because the score is more important than the knowledge. I think instead of grades and test scores determining academic success, students should have a portfolio of their work. With modern technology, it is more important to know how to search for an answer than to have the facts memorized. Knowing how to effectively use the Internet and analyze material is more useful nowadays than reciting facts and figures.

Hailey G  on  6/3/2015 6:01:42 PM commented:

I think all high schools should implement an honor code similar to that of many colleges. Although there will always be a few students that cheat, with an honor code that is strictly enforced, studies have shown that the chance of cheating is decreased significantly. I also believe that there should be student boards that handle cheating just like at the University of Virginia placed into all high schools. If cheating is stopped in high school, it can greatly cut down the amount of cheating in college which can lead to more honest students and adults in general.

Mark Y  on  6/3/2015 5:23:05 PM commented:

Cheating happens because Students who have compromised their social and economic security for a shot at an Ivy league school has long gotten rid of all the ethical boundries that keep them from cheating. Success or failure is all that matters by the time you get to Harvard.

 on  6/3/2015 3:16:02 PM commented:

Funny kids whats the point of having resources if you can't even access them. Also, haven't you ever thought that people simply couldn't care less about topics that they will never need or use? For example, would you learn Chem or Bio if you aren't going into the sciences? Of course not, however the curriculum forces us to take those courses. The idiots that get caught are 100% special ed. The 1-5 number is a straight up lie. The number is much closer to 70% or so. Also, for the 12 year olds that commented below this post, before you probably never had a single challenge in the past, now, or will ever have a challenge. Have fun in community college ;)

Dustin F  on  6/3/2015 1:22:15 PM commented:

The problem is that with every advancements in technology that allow quick and non cognative solution thinking it is easier to cheat and quicker and its not technology at fault its how we use it responsibly. These students find themselves in a fast pace and easy access to the society via internet that they would rather take the easy path to solve their problems wether its life school or something else and this is where The statement With Great Knowledge Comes Great Responsibility thanks to the internet they have a crystal ball. And if nothing is done to remove technology from testing grounds then it will never change and the rest of the world will suffer because the graduating students who cheat and get degrees in fields of their studies the quality of the future designs they ccome up with will not be efficient. The school needs to make mandatory tests be taken on tablets with teacher lock codes. And unlocked when teacher has full view of students.

Amber J  on  6/3/2015 9:43:32 AM commented:

I think cheaters are your most dishonest people in the workplace and all around. They are arrogant because they think they are smarter than others as they think they got away with something. In actuality they are the least smartest of us all because they cheated themselves out of the privilege of obtaining valuable knowledge. The teacher/instructor who allows this is just as bad as the perpetrators. Any teacher that don't have pride in insuring the best education for a student shouldn't be teaching. Frankly. I think it's harder and takes More energy to cheat than to just study and try for the best. People who actually study tend to have a deeper understanding even if they don't score the highest on the test.

Lexie T  on  6/3/2015 9:14:28 AM commented:

Cheating in High School is common and it has been done so many times it is a norm. I got caught one time when I cheated, it was extremely embarrassing. Though high school, students are pressured to make the 4 year mark until getting their HS diploma. Now though in college, there really is not point in cheating because it is literally fend for yourself. If you want to pass and get your degree, then you put in the effort for it. Cheating does not get you anywhere. It will always catch up back to you.

A Rodriguez  on  6/3/2015 2:35:33 AM commented:

I am a professor at a community college, and I have had students cheat on computer keyboarding assignments. I know who they are, and immediately call their attention to it. It's wanting a free grade, but on what grounds?? You end up leaving class not knowing how to work hard which in turn---when you work in the workforce, one--nothing is free and easy; two--you have to work hard at your job--you cannot cheat in your job!!!! This is what many students don't realize. Better to get a "C" and know you worked hard, than to get an "A " knowing that you cheated.

J.C  on  6/3/2015 1:59:50 AM commented:

At my school we go by a moral social contract. The contract states that we go follow the rules stated or suffer the consequences that follow with it. My school stays on top of impeding their scholarly image as what It means to be a "Maverick". The school is constantly reinforcing each student as they soon to begin to notice them slip in all academic areas the school offers. I think that if your school wants to maintain a certain image by holding their students up to certain social standard then the school shouldn't lack on students by not speaking out to them on their wrongdoings

Bryce R.H  on  6/3/2015 1:44:26 AM commented:

Well with research papers there is the obvious "site your source" meathead. To add, I've never felt like multiple choice questions where good at evaluating what you know. In response to cheating I think they could make most questions written response. Pleas there are many standardize test that are done by computer know. It is a simple way to randomize the test without giving more work to the teachers.

Areyna B.  on  6/3/2015 1:40:24 AM commented:

Honestly, nothing Is being coerced at my school to further limit any academic dishonesty. First let's starts with the obvious basics. We should all know by now that cheating is absolutely wrong which can result in an effective punishment. The thought that we are "only cheating yourselves" is brought up on countless occasions with such uncertainty to take part in this academic dishonesty. But according to an annual survey of graduating seniors by the Harvard Crimson newspaper, roughly 20 percent of the students surveyed said they had cheated in their studies while at Harvard (kolovic, 2). So why not inforce a so called cheating policy? One that will be beneficial towards students from teachers.

Marcos N.  on  6/3/2015 12:46:20 AM commented:

Cheating will get you nowhere in life. What goes around comes around and karma will catch up to you. I understand why people cheat at prestigious universities; to further their careers or attempt to do so, but if you absolutely had the ambition to go far, you would "study your butt off" and work hard for something you enjoy. Find something you truly enjoy and always have integrity for something you find yourself in content with.

Chandler F  on  6/3/2015 12:21:54 AM commented:

How about we address the fact that kids are cheating because the school values better test scores and grades over an actual education.

Cany C.  on  6/2/2015 11:10:04 PM commented:

In one of my college classes our teacher warned us not to skip class and have a classmate answer our iclicker questions for us. One day the teacher casually mentioned that there were 4 more iclickers then there were students in the class. Roll was taken and the iclickers were identified and the 4 students who were cheating (who weren't there in class, but whose iclickers were) were failed for the entire class semester. But even if you cheat and don't get caught, in the long run, you are only cheating yourself.

Jeffrey Roberts  on  6/2/2015 10:46:34 PM commented:

I believe students at an ivy league school would have more sense than to cheat like the did

Anonymous  on  6/2/2015 10:37:49 PM commented:

Please people I study frequently and am not afraid to put hard work into my studies, but there are times where I have "cheated". We all do in some form or another, it's often pointless to put energy into something that ultimately means nothing. If I am gonna major in Art do you think that it's necessary to know every aspect of Biology or vice-versa. "Cheating" on meaningless stuff allows me to focus my entire self to what doea count.

Eilleen F  on  6/2/2015 10:24:21 PM commented:

Please do not cheat!!!! It's just better study before your exam days

Alex D  on  6/2/2015 9:46:39 PM commented:

1/5 seems low.

Natalie A.  on  6/2/2015 9:37:48 PM commented:

While testing, all devices must be face down on our desks to prevent cheating. Most teachers keep an eye on the class every few minutes to catch onto any suspect behavior at my school.

Keren G.  on  6/2/2015 9:22:41 PM commented:

Honestly most of the students cheat because Harvard probably has a hard grading rank. It's awful knowing that they cheat , but c'mon everyone cheats , it's not a good thing to do but people still do it.

Jaime R  on  6/2/2015 9:09:25 PM commented:

Harvard students are no different from community college students. Both kinds of college students are studying to achieve a bigger goal. Sometimes, community college students, and even Harvard students, will cheat to achieve that goal. Just remember, cheaters never prosper , and cheating will only get you so far in the real world.

Megan Zim  on  6/2/2015 8:32:26 PM commented:

Having to cheat on tests and exams means: no desire to take life seriously and create a risky-illegal path to a diploma. I find good techniques on cheating funny because one rather waste two hours on prep than actually use the time to put the information in one's head. An example from a show, The Simpsons, depicted on the subject in Season 5, episode 9. In one part, Bark finds himself failing school; in order to pass, he hangs out with nerds/geeks. He finds that to cheats means studying.

CDH  on  6/2/2015 7:46:33 PM commented:

Instructors where I go to college need to be more strict about the no cell phone policy and less people would be able to cheat on tests in class. It makes me angry when someone who cheats makes a better grade than I did and I work my butt off in class!

Alisha S  on  6/2/2015 7:16:47 PM commented:

I feel that people don't understand the importance of education. I think education (specifically in America) is going to have to fall apart before it gets better. You can lead the horse to the water but you can't make it drink. We as a generation need to want it. Maybe even make tests in such a way that is more of a diagnostic test for yourself. Just to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Cheating is from not caring and just trying to get by. We have to encourage people to care and want to get ahead. Not everyone will but the more the better.

Kyla R.  on  6/2/2015 6:28:58 PM commented:

What's the point of being in a top level school and your going to cheat your way through it.

Sonia E.  on  6/2/2015 6:23:29 PM commented:

Cheating will only cheat yourself out of the knowledge you were supposed to obtain.

Ashley-Ann J  on  6/2/2015 5:53:11 PM commented:

Cheating takes you nowhere. If you don't know the material,take the initiative to know a specimen taught within a particular class as you will never know it later or at the time needed. Study, obtain the knowledge and find all measures to avoid cheating. It is not fair to others who have push their weight to excel. Those caught cheating should be placed under probation and prove themselves that they are worthy of obtaining a good grade within a class.

Saif I al-fahawi  on  6/2/2015 5:42:31 PM commented:

there is no reason to cheat if you have the brain power to get in to Harvard then it's easy to just take the test

Peep  on  6/2/2015 5:38:00 PM commented:

I don't think any of you understand the rigor of the school. Cheating does not equate to learning nothing, and studying at such a hard school is NOT as easy as "five minutes a day." Often times teachers expect so much of students, and pretend like they are the only class you have. There is only so much time and energy one human, no matter how smart, can spend on each class. I'm not necessarily condoning cheating, nor do I attend Harvard, but you should seriously look into why they are cheating and try to understand them instead of insulting them. They did not get into those schools because they are lazy, not at all.

Sylvia b.  on  6/2/2015 5:27:04 PM commented:

I am surthat is very surprising to hear about the Harvard students. I have been accused of cheating once before but later was found to be correct. I also was once excepted at Harvard but I refuse the acceptance. I hope that all is corrected and there will be more supervision for all students academically. Thanks again. Sincerely Sylvia.

Paris R.  on  6/2/2015 5:25:57 PM commented:

I'm really not too surprised...

Fernando Amaya  on  6/2/2015 5:19:59 PM commented:

I believe that in order to prevent that they should not recieve the credit for that assignment and show them what could happen if they don't get a second chance

Lori M  on  6/2/2015 5:09:23 PM commented:

I GO TO school online. Plagiarism is huge. We are being proacte by making sure we do the work yourself, or we use our resources, and always properly format them.

Natalie P.  on  6/2/2015 4:55:14 PM commented:

I don't know why this even surprises people... People don't care about the grades you attain at such a "high end schools." You write Harvard or MIT on your job application and it's a one way ticket to success. Most of these students got into such schools because mommy and daddy could afford to send them off, and even when they are caught for cheating a set amount of $ gets them off the hook. Students with little opportunities are less likely to cheat in comparison to these AMAZINGLY high end schools.

Briana L.  on  6/2/2015 4:53:36 PM commented:

why cheat in Harvard? If you're smart enough to in there then you're probably smart enough to pass a test with out cheating

Jasminetassin  on  6/2/2015 4:48:15 PM commented:

cheating don't get you anywhere

Anonymous  on  6/2/2015 4:36:12 PM commented:

Cheaters belong in community college; not in an ivy league school.

Autumn R  on  6/2/2015 4:35:40 PM commented:

As much as it is bad and risky, it is hard to stop an individual from cheating. All the penalties in the world can be made, but clearly if Harvard students are willing to risk their expensive education to cheat, there may be no end. In my school it is just considered insubordination and a detention or short suspension may be offered, it is a high school after all. However I have concluded that when an assignment or test is given, it is harder to cheat if that assignment varies per person, such as state standard tests. There are similar questions or responses, just in different orders, and it makes it harder to copy a piers answers.

James C  on  6/2/2015 4:34:11 PM commented:

The definition of "cheating" is taking advantage by act dishonestly. If student use any resource as possible tool for self-fulfilment without violating the school rule, it doesn't count as cheating. However, it's important to address the credit of others people's work to avoid plagiarism. Last, cheating on anything is cheating on yourself, even though you don't notice it

Cassie L  on  6/2/2015 4:33:00 PM commented:

You don't learn when you cheat

everybody  on  6/2/2015 4:30:45 PM commented:

everybody most likely cheats sometime in their life

Daniela M  on  6/2/2015 4:13:26 PM commented:

Why ruin your career when you're already in a good college and being successful? If you knew it was to much pressure you should of not gone to a great college like Harvard.

BW  on  6/2/2015 4:10:30 PM commented:

At my old school our tests were all different so that no one would cheat. All of our problems and or questions were about different problems. That way people could not cheat off of you.

Ronald w  on  6/2/2015 3:58:59 PM commented:

Once while in a lab a TA left his computer unlocked and a group of kids stole the final. I was offered the exam by one of the guys, but quickly turned it down. Some of you may not agree but minority students are punished more harshly and it is in our best interest to just work harder than to cheat.

Ronald w  on  6/2/2015 3:58:26 PM commented:

Once while in a lab a TA left his computer unlocked and a group of kids stole the final. I was offered the exam by one of the guys, but quickly turned it down. Some of you may not agree but minority students are punished more harshly and it is in our best interest to just work harder than to cheat.

Kayla L  on  6/2/2015 3:58:22 PM commented:

The high school I attended, even though a public school, was very strict in many aspects. Cheating, obviously, is a big no no. If you're caught, you receive ISS, a zero for the class that day and the person you cheated off of also receives a zero, if they knew you were copying. Now of course they can't prove you didn't know so the cheatee automatically gets a zero anyway. Second offenses are followed by a five day suspension from school and if you're in sports you're automatically kicked off the team until the following season you were caught cheating in. A whole year of no sports is a big deal especially if you live in a major football town. The only way to get back on the team is to go before a board of school officials and your peers and beg for mercy. I've never cheated in my life, but I am a sports fanatic. That punishment would kill me.

Marco r  on  6/2/2015 3:53:10 PM commented:

Don't cheat

Yasmin mohareb  on  6/2/2015 3:40:47 PM commented:

Why would you even cheat in Harvard, if you know that you're can't study that much to be better why did you even went to Harvard

Jamie W  on  6/2/2015 3:17:43 PM commented:

A classmate cheated off of me without me knowing and it almost costed me my grade and gpa. We would go to lunch together after class so then it seemed like I was apart of her scheme. So be aware that people will use you for their own benefit, cover your tests, and explain rather than give answers.

Anonymous  on  6/2/2015 3:16:56 PM commented:

I don't get why people cheat all the time during tests. They don't study and yet they have nothing to do at home after school. Can these people not even spend even as little as 5 minutes everyday to review material and study? FIVE MINUTES. And when they do cheat, they never get caught mainly because the teachers DON'T care at all.

Nik K.  on  6/2/2015 3:15:50 PM commented:

While in school I didn't think cheating was bad. But now, going back to college after 10 yeas in workforce, I think cheating harms the cheater the most. In work environment there is no one who knows the right answer, so it is beneficial for me myself to have the problem solving skills. It is better to have the 2.5 GPA and be successful in the workplace, than have 4.0 GPA and be clueless... I do not cheat in college and I discourage anyone who does so.

Robert V  on  6/2/2015 3:13:49 PM commented:

Who would've thunk it?

Jamie W  on  6/2/2015 3:13:17 PM commented:

University of Baltimore participates in a program called Turnit In. It compares the submitted paper to others submitted and online resources and the paper is graded by percentage on plagiarism. Smart tool.

Nancy S.  on  6/2/2015 3:04:43 PM commented:

I get traumatized when I even try to cheat, that's why I don't do it, I don't understand why others do it, they need to feel something, atleast guilt.

Charly L.  on  6/2/2015 2:51:03 PM commented:

For as long as there's been competition, there will be those who want to get ahead. There are those who genuinely work hard and those who work hard at finding easy street. Should the ones who find easy street be reprimanded? Yes, but it will never stop the cheating. This way will eventually catch up.

Cam C  on  6/2/2015 2:33:23 PM commented:

My father fired one of his workers because he could never complete tasks on his own due to his cheating habits.

Kimberly Fajardo  on  6/2/2015 2:30:50 PM commented:

There hasn't been much cases of students being caught cheating at my school. There has been one though. About three students were caught cheating in a chemistry test and their tests were taken from them. After the teacher informed the school of their dishonesty, the students were failed and it was as if they never took the class. I believe the school, including the teachers, need to become more aware of the cheating occurring in every classroom. Maybe they should consider more consequences in order for students to become more honest.

Tori R.  on  6/2/2015 2:30:35 PM commented:

At me school cheating is not tolerated. However students still find ways to cheat. With tests my individual teachers hand out multiple copies of the test so if people cheat they will receive a low grade even if they aren't caught. I personally think cheating is pointless because there's no garuntee the people you cheat off of are even right. Plus you personally don't learn what you need to know. Cheating can only go so far.

chidiebube  on  6/2/2015 2:19:57 PM commented:

Where I come from, cheating gives a bad name

Tevin Jefferson. Tj  on  6/2/2015 2:17:50 PM commented:

Why would you cheat? Because cheating is harder then study so just study!

Colin s  on  6/2/2015 2:17:11 PM commented:

at my high school a teacher who about every person in the school had cheated in her class, caught her son cheating and he did not get In trouble.

Sumeet Bajaj  on  6/2/2015 2:04:01 PM commented:

I rather fail than cheat because in real world when I have to use my knowledge at work, I don't want to be clueless.

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