Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99

Harvard students are relatively honest. That's sad.

During the eight-year run of the show “House M.D.” the series mantra was, “Everybody lies.” The corollary to that could well be, “Everybody cheats.” Maybe not everybody, but fairly close.

That’s why I can’t fathom the fuss being made over a Harvard University survey that found 42% of incoming freshmen admitted to having cheated in homework in high school, and 10% admitted to cheating on tests. People, including my colleague Paul Whitefield, conclude they've found the difference between those elite Ivy Leaguers and the rest of us. Aha! They only get there by cheating!

Are we really deluding ourselves into thinking that students elsewhere are more honest?

If the freshmen told the truth in the Harvard survey, the members of this class are pikers in the world of academic cheating, models of ethical behavior.

According to a July fact sheet put out by instructors at Stanford University, 75% to 98% of college students in this nation admit in surveys to having cheated in high school. And they say they cheat because ... everybody does. If they don’t, they say, they’ll be at a competitive disadvantage.

Despite the outrage expressed by school leaders, the fact sheet says, students are seldom caught, and when they are, only mild punishment is meted out. The numbers of self-confessed cheaters have risen dramatically since the 1940s.

No, the Harvard numbers don’t show that the way one gets into Harvard is by cheating. But they do show an extraordinary number of students who plan to go into finance upon graduation: 80%. Not academia, teaching, public service, healing the sick. Of course, after paying all that money for a Harvard degree, they’ll likely need a well-paying job to get out from under their student debt. But then, what does that say about the value our society places on teaching and helping others?


Marijuana laws done right

School dress codes: Miniskirt madness

'My Dinner with Assad' haunts John Kerry

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Parents, too, could use a break on student loan debt
    Parents, too, could use a break on student loan debt

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been fighting the good fight for student loan debt reform. As she put it recently: "Millions of young people are just stuck. They can't buy homes, they can't buy cars … all because they are struggling under the weight of student loan debt."

  • Spare us from another ersatz Bill of Rights
    Spare us from another ersatz Bill of Rights

    This week President Obama announced a series of measures to make it easier for Americans to repay their student loans. I have no problem with the substance of Obama’s proposals, but I do object to the way they were packaged – as the “Student Aid Bill of Rights.”