In one of my floating classes this term, my professor routinely gives us short quizzes to check if we’ve read the week’s assigned readings. These quizzes aren’t difficult; they’re made up of ten objective-type questions, and are checked right after we answer them—exchange with your seatmate, honesty system.
I slowly got annoyed, however, when I realized that my seatmate in that class—a complete and utter stranger to me—would never actually answer the quiz. Every week, he would wait until the portion where we check the test, and just check his own paper. When the professor would read out the correct answers, he would just jot them down, giving himself a perfect score each time.
In some instances, I noticed the same student sign his name in for attendance within the first fifteen minutes of the class and just march out, bag slung over his shoulder, never to return to the classroom.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’ve never cheated in an academic requirement or cut any of my classes in my lifetime—I have. But perhaps what annoyed me so much in this particular instance was the fact that this professor was one of the few I’ve encountered who seemed honestly, legitimately passionate about the subject matter he teaches. More than that, he is, by all accounts, an effective professor—his lectures are always interesting, and he himself is rather lenient with the grades he gives. Maybe that’s why it frustrated me so much—it felt like a slap in the face to the professor, answering his trust and kindness with a complete lack of effort and honesty.
Again, I’m not going to say that I’ve never been academically dishonest. But I think there’s something to be said about the kind of student who gives completely zero effort in these kinds of scenarios. There’s a difference between cutting class in order to focus on a more immediate priority, and cutting class just because you can. There’s a difference between not doing your readings because you’re attending to extra-curricular matters, and not doing your readings because you’re lazy.
I know it sounds like I’m saying cutting class and cheating is acceptable in certain circumstances and forms—it isn’t, and that’s not my point. But I do understand, as a student, how in some instances, we resort to these shortcuts when we get desperate, or we can’t quite understand a topic, or our professor just doesn’t make sense. This happens to a majority of students who lose track of time, or who are dealt a bad hand of professors, and I know that these practices will never fully go away. But what we should be aiming for is to build up a culture of excellence among us students, to do away with laziness and lack of effort in instances where it can be helped.
As students of DLSU, our parents shell out enormous sums of money every term so we can get the best education possible. It’s disappointing, then, that some of us respond to this in the worst way possible—by not even trying to understand certain topics or classes. The complete lack of effort and honesty becomes all the more disrespectful in cases where our professors are the kind that try their utmost best to master the subject and present it in as understandable a manner as possible.
I believe, then, that it becomes our job as students to take these classes seriously. I don’t always practice what I preach—there are cases where I don’t pay attention in a boring class, or where I’m tempted to copy the homework of my friends. At the end of the day, however, excellence comes with hard work. We owe it to our parents, who shoulder our extravagant tuition fees, we owe it to those professors of ours who are fair, hardworking, and passionate, and we owe it to ourselves to be the absolute best students that we can be.
Whenever news breaks out of DLSU topping some kind of academic rankings, we share the article with our chests puffed out, proud to be members of this institution and its highly-rated programs. How hollow is it, then, if majority of the students of this very institution are the kind to jot down correct answers in a quiz as it’s checked, and can’t be bothered to stay in class for a whole 90 minutes?