Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
August is an exciting time for students embarking on college careers (my own daughter heads off this fall). As parents, we spend lots of energy getting them ready: We buy dorm “essentials” from XL sheets to mini-fridges, purchase meal plans and load campus accounts for late-night pizza. Some have needed conversations about alcohol, safe sex and other adult realities. Another conversation should also take place: It’s time to be honest about cheating.
Over the last few years, we have repeatedly heard about cheating scandals in schools, businesses, government and even religious institutions. These high-profile cases point to a very sobering reality: Cheating is everywhere, and unfortunately, high school is no exception.
Most students have inherited from their families a genuine moral foundation. However, students are still developing, and often have not yet grasped the conviction that moral integrity is more valuable than attractive, immediate gains. Stress can make a moral foundation waiver, clear thinking does not always prevail and students do not always live up to the ideals they have been taught. Poor time management, inadequate knowledge/skills, peer pressure to “help” others, looming deadlines, pressure (internal and parental) to receive high grades, carelessness with the rules of citation, undue focus on grades over learning and a lack of belief in the value of the work being done can coalesce to create a perfect storm where dishonesty appears the only recourse. The result is a high-school culture in which cheating becomes “normal,” and the lack of serious consequences lulls students into believing that cheating is a low-risk way to succeed.
Sadly, this behavior carries over for some to their college years and threatens to cheat them out of an education.
So what can you do to help your student get the most out of college? First, students need to recognize the fantastic opportunity they have in going to college. At Roanoke College and many other fine institutions, courses focus on mastering the knowledge and skills that will enable students to lead meaningful lives and contribute to their communities. We need to talk openly with our daughters and sons about the tremendous value of their education. We need to help them see that all their courses — not just those in their major — will sharpen their minds and open them to new possibilities for their future. We need to encourage them to give each of these experiences their full attention so they can gain the knowledge and skills that will allow them to succeed wherever life may take them.
Second, students need to know that integrity and honesty are essential for genuine success in college. While cheating might give the appearance of success, we need to help them see that hard work done with integrity is of much greater value both now and in the long run. We need to challenge them to consider whether cheating will actually thwart their dreams and whether they want that kind of behavior to define their character in the long run. Knowing that you value integrity and honest achievement over false success will help your student have the courage and strength it takes to live a life of integrity and to get all they can out of their college years.
Third, students need support to help maintain their integrity. We ought to talk openly with our students about the culture of cheating in high school and ask them to reflect on their own participation in that culture. We can help them identify misunderstandings and areas of weakness that in the past made cheating seem acceptable. For some, better time management skills will be essential to avoiding the temptation to cheat; others may need further help in specific academic areas (e.g., writing and math). And most new college students need considerable practice applying the rules of citation, quotation and paraphrase to meet college-level writing expectations.
We should make sure our students are familiar with their college’s policies on academic honesty and the resources available on campus to help students succeed. Interestingly, research indicates that timely reminders about integrity actually help students live up to their moral code. So start the conversation now and revisit it a few times during the year.
And for those of you with students in high school (my son enters ninth grade this fall), it is never too early to begin this conversation. After all, integrity is not just essential for college, but for the whole of our lives.
Weather JournalPossible scrape with snow Tues