I don’t have time to do my readings for class, so I often rely on online summaries. Is this cheating?
It happens to the best of us — five papers due, three exams coming up, extracurricular and social expectations rising. It all seems like too much to ever accomplish, and then you suddenly remember an easy way to save time: skip reading assignments and pull up SparkNotes.
While certainly a useful tool for review and understanding the material, using only summaries violates a few ethical principles. As students at Hillsdale, we chose to sign the Honor Code, committing yourself to be “honorable in conduct” and “dutiful in study.” Relying only on others’ summaries is not quite living up to that promise.
Consider working on your time management skills. Is your schedule as efficient as it could be? Keep a time diary and thoroughly evaluate what you are doing with each hour of your day. Reworking your schedule may free up time that you didn’t even know you had, allowing you to complete more of your readings.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to make these judgment calls, but keep in mind what is truly in your best interests. You’re putting a lot of time, effort, and money into getting your degree, and at least a part of that is because you want an education. Are you truly learning and appreciating cultural masterpieces just by reading someone else’s bullet-point analysis? The word “school” comes from the Greek word for “leisure” because only those with free time were fortunate enough to receive an education. Don’t let the stress of school make you forget how lucky you are to be here. If you don’t get the most out of it you possibly can, the person you’re really cheating is yourself.
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