I remember well when I returned to college in my late 30s to get a second Bachelor’s degree, with the goal of changing careers. It had occurred to me that it was a great idea to take what I was good at and combine it with what was marketable if I were going to increase my dollar worth in the marketplace. While I was taking my courses, I was approached a number of times by students who were willing to pay me to write papers for them, along with several other assignment tasks. My life as a teacher was enough to guarantee I would say no–and not very politely either. To me, this kind of activity was an indicator that the student couldn’t cut it and had no business being in college at all. Then there was the terrible realization that such a person had no integrity whatsoever. A cheater is simply the bottom of the barrel just about everywhere in the real world, they can’t be trusted and they have no moral compass. Yet, here I was seeing Cheaters-In-Training in an institution of supposedly higher learning. Still, I wasn’t surprised.
To be really honest, I was initially shocked at the quality of students who sat in classes with me. There were the Very Bright. And then there were the Dumbos. I mean to tell you that there were some very stupid people sitting right there in a college class, collecting more dust than knowledge. I was doubly horrified because these were classes related to a technical degree, which I miscalculated would be more difficult than my original Liberal Arts degree. It simply wasn’t the case. Not by a long shot. Every class was graded on a curve, and there was a certain amount of pleasure associated with walking into a class on the first day and hearing groans, because the curve was about to be blown. Frankly, I was almost bewildered at how much easier Bachelor’s Degree work had become compared to my first time around. Something had changed.
I remember befriending a student from China, who told me that Japanese and Chinese students often came to America for college as a kind of vacation. She told me that she learned far more in her High School than they were teaching her here in a number of her courses. She marveled at the “core” courses in subjects such as Composition, and how little was really expected of the student. To her, this was High School material.
Either I was smarter than I thought, or I was witnessing the dumbing-down of college, just as I, as a teacher, could already see how High School Curricula were being dumbed-down by degrees as well. As further testimony that things have gotten even worse and just about anybody can get into plenty of colleges in America, CNN found more than 250 websites that offer to write papers for a price. In other words, as I write this, “Millions” of American students are cheating their way through college — and they no longer have to look very far to find someone who will say “Yes” to writing their papers for them.
Outsourcing is a dirty little word among many Americans. When companies use cheap labor overseas to make products or perform services it often means those jobs are lost in the United States.
Next up on the outsourcing list? Take a deep breath and read on. America is outsourcing its brains.
According to the Center for Academic Integrity, in the last school year nearly a third of the faculty at its 360 college and high school member institutions reported students downloading term papers, reports or essays written by someone else from online sites known as paper mills.
And guess who’s writing their papers for them? Here is a breakdown of the locations of Writers For Hire:
* Pakistan 28.8%
* India 27.3%
* USA 20.9%
* Philippines 6.5%
* Ukraine 4.2%
* Indonesia 1.8%
These college cheaters are the same people who will cheat their way through the workplace. They will cheat their way through life. Ironically, some of these cheaters are also the same people who troll blogs on the net and brag about how “educated” they are compared to everybody else, as if their degree is some ticket to the Finish Line Trophy instead of nothing more than an opportunity to enter the race.
Not one of these college cheaters who employs these websites would have been accepted into or made it through most 4-year colleges in the 70s without the more stringent achievement level and the difficult SAT score requirements. For sure, graduate school would not have been on the horizon. It may have been a wild hippy-assed time, but plenty of people who couldn’t cut it flunked out of college too. That’s what you did when you couldn’t handle the work or the stress. You flunked out. If you got caught like the people in the photo above left, you were helped out the door.
Today, the idea is EVERYONE should go to college. So what else do you do but dumb enough schools down to ensure they all make it to graduation with that stellar GPA? This is why the joke in the workplace is that some of today’s BS or BA degrees have become equivalent to a High School Education of several decades ago. That’s what happens when you let EVERYBODY into college, whether they have the academic aptitude or not. When everybody has that sheepskin, it’s not such a valuable commodity any longer–and those who cannot cut it academically will cheat their way to graduation. So, while I am sure there were some cheaters out there in my day, we have now embarked on the creation of a new breed of students who see cheating as a way of life. CNN reports that “Millions of students are outsourcing their brains” such that it has now become a cottage industry for ghost writers–and some of those ghost writers are living in third world countries! What does that say about the potential of our own people?
The worst part of all of this is nobody is bothering to learn valuable skills that guarantee jobs that will pay far more money than that pissant job an overly common B.A. degree will get them. I can assure you that electricians and plumbers make far more money than somebody who works as a social worker. Not all brains are academic brains. Have you ever seen the brilliant work of a finish carpenter, the true experts in geometry? It’s jaw-dropping, and most of us instinctively know we couldn’t achieve that kind of result if our lives depended upon it. So who’s smart again?
Not all smarts come from books and we as parents have done a horrible injustice to our children by imagining otherwise. Many chefs will also make more money than that young person with the B.A in Politics will ever earn. It’s not just about sticking your nose in a book. In the Real World, it’s also about talent, flexibility, adaptability, dealing with stress, getting the job done, and thinking on your feet! I’m also here to tell you that the two very richest people I know never even walked by a college. College does not make you automatically smart. You need to be smart and have some potential before you get there, and your potential had best be in a useful field. College also does not make you All Knowing. In fact, any successful person will tell you that you don’t know shit till you get into the Real World and have to achieve. Ten years after graduation, nobody even cares where you went to college. What they do care about is what you have achieved, preferably without cheating. This will become even more apparent in the future since college degrees are officially a dime a dozen now. The truth is, you can only cheat your way through life so far, and eventually you are forced to either achieve or hit the road. Plenty of students may have scammed the system now, but in the Real World, they will find out exactly how valuable they aren’t. Knowledge is power. Fake knowledge is pretty much nothing.
So, exactly what are we doing for our children when we automatically assume every one of our kids is a potential brain surgeon (even though their teachers are rolling their eyes)? We turn them into cheaters, that’s what we do for them. I will hunt for the link, but I read awhile back that something like 67% of all students in America think cheating is an okay thing to do and more than 80% of college students score high on the Narcissist Scale. They are accustomed to receiving a trophy just for showing up. They exit college thinking that companies didn’t run before they got there. What a letdown this has to be for them in the workforce of the Real World–especially in today’s economy.
So much for the good news about America’s future leaders. In the meantime, we can’t find a good plumber.
CNN Video: “Millions of students are outsourcing their brains”
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