Cheating in School Versus Cheating in the Real World

Cheating in School Versus Cheating in the Real World

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Cheating in School Versus Cheating in the Real World


Cheating has been a major concern for institutions of higher learning. Institutions fear cheating because of the reputation dishonest people will establish for that institution. After a student has learned several successful ways to cheat and not be caught, is he or she more likely to employ the same tactics in his or her workplace? The student will use those tactics, but in the real world, such acts are not called “cheating tactics,” but “business strategy.”

Several years ago, Clemson University was approached by a perspective employer. A business man visited the school and announced that the company wanted to hire some new staff members. In order to be more selective of the persons to get called in for interviews, the man announced an online exam that the students must take. Depending on the results, the company would then get in touch with the individuals.

One student that is very interested considers his options. He could choose to take the exam using his real name and receive a performance grade based on his knowledge of the tough material the exam would ask. Or, his second option: use a false identity, get the questions, go out to reliable sources and ask for answers, and then post answers to the exam under his real name.

The student opted for the second option. He got the test questions, went to professors, searched online, and found as many of the answers as he could. He posted his answers. Within a week, the company representative called the student in for an interview. The first statement out of the interviewer’s mouth: “No one has ever scored that high on our online test.” The next: “How did you do it?”

The student’s response began with “honestly” and he unveiled his unique plan to succeed on the test. The interviewer was shocked – no one had ever admitted to cheating on the online test before. A job was offered.

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Why? In the real world, when a question is broached, the employee of the company is expected to fall back onto his or her resources – just like what the student did when he approached his professors and online material.

At the first offer, the student refused; he wanted to finish his schooling. The company offered again. He refused again. This process went through several more rounds before the student was offered an incredible salary and he could not refuse.

Another example is Bill Gates and Microsoft. He bought out DOS and produced Apple’s idea of a graphical interface. He did not do anything original, and now he is the one to show for his multibillion dollar empire.

What does this story tell about business? In practice, the pragmatic company has to do anything it can to put it ahead of its competition. The company needs people who demonstrate life-long learning and creative solutions to a problem. Most companies will tolerate any means to justify the outcome as long as the employee does everything within the bounds of the law. This ideology is the backbone for any sound business strategy.

How is cheating even possible in the real world? It seems an implausible argument. Clichés about how life is unfair are rampant enough where society’s disbelief on a preposterous notion of a fair world is understood. The real world is about survival of the fittest – being at the right place at the right time and exploiting something (mostly technology these days) to the fullest potential. Is it unfortunate that businesses accept these practices? Not particularly, since if their objectives fail, the economy will have to deal with another bankrupt company. Cheating is not cheating in the real world – it is only an important strategy to stay ahead of everyone else.
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