Feb 142012
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Compare the academic integrity at Middlebury College in 1980 to CSU in 2012, and the difference is staggering.

“We had a very honest student body there,” said Sarah Sloane, who served for three years as director of composition at CSU and attended the Vermont liberal arts college as an undergraduate. “Here, it seems worse …”

And it is. But it would seem worse at virtually any other American university as well because the number of cheating and plagiarism cases has been skyrocketing across the nation for at least the past 20 years, according to a study released by the Free Press.

The Pew Center for Research found similar data, reporting in August 2011 that 55 percent of college presidents across the nation believe that plagiarism in their students’ papers has increased over the past 10 years.

The reason could be the fact that each generation of students has been expected to achieve far more than their parents’ generation in order to be competitive in the job market.

“A college degree is becoming the norm rather than the exception,” said Andrea Karapas, associate director of Alumni Career Counseling at CSU. “You’ve got so many more educated people out there to choose from, and there’s more competition.”

The way to beat everyone else, Karapas added, is to do more than them.

“You need more than just a degree,” she said. “You need practical experience, which comes through internships. The people that do set themselves apart –– those are the ones that get hired. It is kind of a survival of the fittest.”

“It is a lot of pressure.”

The mounting stress could explain why 85 percent of college students surveyed by U.S. News & World Report in 2007 said it was essential to cheat. After all, according to a separate study conducted by Fordham University the same year, cheaters had a higher GPA than non-cheaters –– a difference of 3.41 to 2.85.

But not all students have let their academic integrity cave in the face of pressure.

Information provided by CU–Boulder’s Honor Code, a student-run organization that handles plagiarism cases at the university, shows the number of cases they’ve received has actually decreased over the past four years.

Even still, clear-cut cheating takes place at the university.

“We have received many cases recently that involve blatant and obvious plagiarism, such as taking full paragraphs from online sources or copying information directly from Wikipedia,” said Will Hauptman, a sophomore economics major and chair of the CU Honor Code. “I’m not sure if that is due to laziness and being pressed for time, or if students are unaware of citation requirements.”

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

By the numbers

Percentage of college presidents in the U.S. who said plagiarism cases has gone up at their institutions over the past 10 years

Percentage of U.S. college students who said cheating was necessary when surveyed by U.S. News & World Report in 2007

Percentage of the amount that cheaters’ GPAs were better than non-cheaters’ GPAs at Fordham University, according to a 2007 survey

Number of years cheating and plagiarism have been on the rise across the nation

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