Plagiarism: The aftermath of a nightmare

Is taking the easy way out worth getting kicked out?

In the academic world, plagiarism is not only frowned upon but is also considered to be a large legal issue that can compromise both the student and the faculty of the school. Although some students don’t understand the severity of the punishments attributed with plagiarism, I got a good taste of how scary the reality of lying really was.

In high school and college, teachers always state in their syllabus on the first day of class that plagiarism will not be tolerated, however, not all students listen and many either get away with it or end up getting caught and potentially ruin their academic career.

I remember over the years hearing many people, some of whom I knew and some I didn’t, say plagiarism was easy and rarely ever checked for.

I always shook my head at those people and never thought I would ever be the one to commit the crime, but desperation—especially during stressful or psychologically-impaired times—can make someone do the unthinkable. What felt like an innocent cheat turned into my worst nightmare.

I felt confident taking the easy way out would save me from my own personal struggles I was having both inside and outside of school, however, it did the exact opposite and made me question everything I had ever worked for to get to the point I am today. I had to look deep inside myself and feel the guilt I deserved, beating myself up at a time I already felt down.

Taking the easy way out made life harder and made me feel terrible about myself as a person. This was my first rodeo at plagiarism, and I felt ashamed and disgusted with what I had done to the point where I was paralyzed with fear. I honestly thought my life was over and my academic future was ruined, and it very well could have been.

Honesty is key. Honesty would have never allowed me to plagiarize in the first place, but once the deed is done it’s important to be completely honest about it after the fact. I wasn’t honest in the end to save my own ass, I was honest because I was terrified. It’s not in my nature to lie, and it was eating me up inside after I got caught.

I couldn't live with myself nor could I live with the possibilities of the ramifications of my actions. Lying out of fear only destroys one’s credibility, and I learned that firsthand. Not lying in the first place will always feel better than putting yourself through emotional turmoil due to your own dishonesty.

I had thought very little of plagiarism but from what I had heard it sounded tempting. With the knowledge I have acquired from my mistake, I now know that nothing risky is ever actually worth the risk.

According to plagiarism.org, 36 percent of undergraduates admitted to paraphrasing and/or copying from an internet source without footing it, and 7 percent report copying materials almost word-for-word from a written source without citation. Honestly, I believe these statistics are higher than most students want to admit.

Continuously hearing that “everyone does it”vmade me believe it was less of an issue than it truly was. Most students will not cop to their dishonesty and for that reason I cannot be 100 percent convinced these statistics are accurate.

The Center of Academic Integrity reports 80 percent of college students admit to cheating at least once. Unfortunately, that sounds more like the reality of society today.

In today’s digital world, retrieving and distributing information is virtually effortless. Easily obtainable information has spoiled many of this culture’s young minds, giving them the false confidence that cheating can be done without notice.

Content-matching sites and software put an end to plagiarism, as it allows teachers to identify exactly when a student has taken text from another source without citation. One of the most popular plagiarism-checking sites is turnitin.com. Turnitin statistics state between 2010 and 2011 more than 35 million papers were submitted to their website.

There were more than 128 million content matches from these papers on the web. That represents about 3.7 content matches per paper submitted. I’m thankful for websites such as Turnitin, because just like a police officer is ordered to stop a person from committing crimes, these websites allow teachers to stop students from committing plagiarism.

More often than not, students don’t fully comprehend how serious of an issue plagiarism really is.

There are several consequences for plagiarism that can destroy a student’s academic or professional reputation, along with legal repercussions that are very serious. I was faced fearing the absolute worst, convinced that I had ruined my entire standing over my first plagiarism class issue.

I feared that at best-case scenario I would get an automatic F in the class and possibly even academic probation as punishment. Worst-case scenario in my mind consisted of suspension, expulsion and/or plagiarism recorded on my academic transcript, making it impossible for me to ever transfer to another school if need be.

All of these scenarios are very much real and could have happened to me if I hadn't admitted fault after being caught and fully understood how serious and scary the truth behind lies are.

Once I did my research behind plagiarism consequences I couldn’t believe how terrifying the reality was and allow a harmful mistake to jeopardize and define me as a student and a person.

To make sure my plagiarism didn’t define me, I was dedicated to do whatever it took to have it erased from my record so I could to move forward with my life with a huge lesson learned. I know in my heart that lying and cheating is beneath me, and in doing so I not only let the school down but I let myself down an incredible amount.

I couldn’t live with myself and had to do everything in my power to make sure it didn’t destroy my future and that I could move on from it. Although I was given a second chance by the school to make up for my mistake without permanent punishment, I will never forget the punishment I put myself through due to guilt and shame.

One mistake has the possibility to compromise the entire future you have been building for yourself for years. I’m thankful I was caught for plagiarism in the first class I had ever attempted it, for those who don’t get caught will often repeat their bad behavior until they do. I never want to repeat bad behavior again. Taking the easy way out is not worth getting kicked out.