ART BY ANNA MACIAS
By VINCENT CORTES
Crash. Assignments are in the air, rain is everywhere and you desperately seek refuge from the thunderstorm; too late because, you are drowning from this scholastic storm.
In today’s society, academics have become the forefront of most high schoolers’ attention. With an undersaturated job market and academic background having a more profound effect, the academic climate in high school grows more and more competitive each year.
Throughout high school, individuals are constantly reminded of the importance of college—so much so that it is wedged inside of students’ brains. With an ever increasing competitive setting, the academic standard to get into a decent college has reached an unprecedented high. While the minimum GPA (Grade Point Average) required to apply to a UC (University of California) is a 3.00, chances are, one with a subpar GPA will not get one into schools such as UCLA—especially considering their 18% acceptance rate.
Now desperate to keep up with the competition, students sadly rely on the promiscuous “tactic” of cheating and unfortunately, the current education system further propagates this notion.
Due to such a tough competition, receiving a 4.00 GPA, getting 4’s on AP tests and taking after school activities is not enough. Sometimes, the only option to exceed this baseline is to cheat—even for society’s best.
Take for example one of the most prestigious high schools in America, Stuyvesant High. In 2012, a student released the answers to a Spanish exam to over 50 others.
In an interview with a New York Times journalist, a senior from Stuyvesant said, “You could study for two hours and get an 80, or you could take a risk and get a 90.” Ultimately, this leap into risky behavior is caused by the added pressure on students from the strenuous and imposing classes they take. Moreover, with a strong school reputation to uphold, competitiveness is paramount. But, it is unfair for those who cheat to exceed hard-working students, and if one is not above par, one will be left behind. As a result, it creates a setting where students are so focused on achieving that they cheat.
However, competing—and cheating—does not come without fruitlessness, because the overarching goal for many students is to go to college. While cheating one’s way to college is not beneficial because the individual essentially goes through the motions of learning without absorbing the substance, it is the only way for one to go to the college of his or her choice.
In addition, since college acceptance rates have slowly dropped over the years it sets the competitive atmosphere in high school. So, ironically, one is compelled to cheat in high school to go to a good college, because the college is searching for individuals who are “exceptional.”
And this leads to one question: what can be done to stop this?
Cheating will never truly disappear, however cheating as a necessity can drastically dissipate when people know their limits. Taking time to learn the material and understand it is far more valuable than a grade, and is the catalyst for preventing compulsory cheating. But, this still is not an easy task.
The competitive setting in school will still remain uncontested, because colleges are overfilled. In today’s society it is especially important to have a college degree for most jobs.
Nevertheless, the student is still the individual suffering in classes, studying at 3AM in the morning and experiencing mental breakdowns and stress. And change begins with the students challenging the current values of education.