Heather Russino By Heather Russino • October 11, 2016

Contract Cheating: What It Is and Why You Need to Care

As a college student, there are often times you may feel overwhelmed - whether it's studying for a major exam, researching and editing an engaging discussion forum post or simply balancing school work alongside working a full-time job, raising a family and multiple other responsibilities. It's important to remember that in college - as in life - cheating should never be an option.

In fact, did you know that in New Jersey, submitting a purchased essay, report or other written assignment to fulfill the requirements of a degree or course is punishable by up to a $1,000 penalty?

It’s true. And that’s after incurring possible sanctions like failing the assignment or course, suspension or dismissal from a college or university, or rescinding a degree. Such an act - when one person completes academic work for another to receive academic credit - is considered contract cheating and it’s a form of plagiarism. Plagiarism, which is defined as the use of the work and ideas of others without proper citation, is a serious issue. Thomas Edison State University has a strong policy on Academic Integrity including the Academic Code of Conduct. Students who submit course materials or examination responses that are found to be plagiarized are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

Stress Management, Time Management and Academic Integrity

Whether attending classes in a face-to-face setting or in the online learning environment, cheating is not tolerated. Mentors are aware when a piece of writing is plagiarized and there are tools to help combat plagiarism such as SafeAssign. This useful and effective prevention service for students offers timely feedback and suggestions to help you improve your writing and citation skills. The University also offers many other helpful resources to help you succeed such as Smarthinking, an online tutorial service. And, the University’s partnership with the New Jersey State Library provides instant and free access to a wide variety of research, resources and information.

Here are three other helpful tips to keep you focused on your academic studies without feeling so overwhelmed.

  1. Reference a writing checklist as you are writing a paper or submitting a written assignment. This checklist also contains a free download for easy access – it is a perfect resource to have on hand whenever you begin to write an assignment. Better writing is only nine short steps away!

  2. As a college student, time management is a major key to success, so incorporate strategies that help to boost your productivity and efficiency. This approach will show you how to work smarter, not harder.

  3. Review all course expectations including the course content by reading the syllabus closely at the start of the course. This way, if you don't understand a course objective or the purpose of a major assignment, you can reach out to your mentor to get the proper help you need. The longer you wait, the easier it is to fall behind, especially if you struggle to keep up with a particular concept or major assignment. To stay ahead of the curve, take the time at the beginning of the semester to fully read and understand the course requirements. Then, ask your mentor to clarify requirements or assignments, and manage your time accordingly.

Join Us and Help Spread the Message of Academic Integrity

To help spread the important message of academic integrity and the value of honesty in learning, Thomas Edison State University is proud to participate in Global Ethics Day. We are one of many institutions of higher education partaking in the International Day of Action against Contract Cheating spearheaded by the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) at The University of California San Diego.

Students and alumni of Thomas Edison State University are speaking up and out against contract cheating by making whiteboard declarations against contract cheating and spreading those declarations on social media using the hashtags #defeatthecheat and #excelwithintegrity. Post your declaration and be sure to check your social feeds throughout the day as you may spot your classmates - or yourself – on our pages!

In addition to posting a whiteboard declaration on social media, you can show your commitment to academic integrity and against contract cheating by signing the Thomas Edison State University #ExcelWithIntegrity Pledge. 

Together, we can defeat the cheat and excel with integrity! 


Take the Thomas Edison State University #ExcelWithIntegrity Pledge

I commit myself to maintaining the highest level of academic citizenship. I respect myself, my University, mentors and classmates by pursuing my learning goals with honesty and integrity. I take primary responsibility for my education by honoring the values of academic quality and excellence throughout my scholarly endeavors.

I pledge to Excel with Integrity. 


Heather Russino

Written by Heather Russino

Heather Russino is an instructional designer in The W. J. Seaton Center for Learning and Technology, an innovative and trailblazing learning environment center that serves self-directed students through the use of current and emerging technology and outcomes-driven curriculum design. A Columbia University graduate and educator for over 20 years, Russino enjoys writing about her areas of expertise in teaching, learning and course design.

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