School Confessions

Inspired by the Anybody care to predict the grade this paper will receive thread, I decided to start this thread.

Evidently there are a lot of students who slipped something by the professors in their school days. While not really cheating… it wasn’t exactly the most honest thing to do either.

Who else has something to get off their chest?

I’ll start. In undergrad, I had a “programming languages” course that was the most boring course in the world. No homework, only the occasional easy test that we could bring notes in for. There was only one deliverable, we had to write a massive research paper comparing various programming languages. It was supposed to be like a minimum of 30 pages long. It was ridiculous. We were supossed to comment on where the language started, how it was it used… you name it, we were supposed to totally exhaust everything about our topic. I got about five unedited pages into the research paper, when all my other finals demanded attention. There was no way I was going to be able to finish writing this.

Then it dawned on me… our due date for the research paper was the same date as our final exam. There was NO WAY he was going to grade all of those final exams from all of his classes he taught, plus read all these massive research papers. Using Cut & Paste, I duplicated the text of my paper to surpass the minimum length requirement, plus changed the paragraphs around so they didn’t all look the same; including things like “I hope you’re not reading this” in the middle of various paragraphs.

I turned the paper in… viola , I received an A in the course. Not my shining moment. I ultimately graduated magna cum laude, but that really taught me a lesson about putting things off to the last minute.

I went to music school. One of the requirements is that you have to write charts – that is arrangements – of songs for various combinations of instruments. I was pretty good at it. A guy who lived down the hall was absolutely terrible. He had no concept at all of anything remotely musical, and pretty much skated by using daddy’s money.

At one point he was required to write a chart, and was told that if it wasn’t up to par, he would fail the course. Desperate, he asked me if I would do the assignment for him for $50. Yes, it was cheating, but I viewed it as a paying gig. Someone is asking me to use my talents and willing to pay me for it. I found it appealing to think of myself as a professional musician.

So I started writing this thing, fully intending to do a half-ass job. But inspiration hit. Right from the start I got this awesome groove into my head, and just went to town on what had to be the best music I had written up to that point in my life. I finished in about 2 hours.

The teacher knew that George didn’t do his own work. It was painfully obvious. He passed him anyway. George was not the kind of guy that any teacher wanted to have twice in a row.

I was taking an introduction class in geophysics where a paper was due at the end of the semester detailing how we would develop a new reservoir, where we would drill the first 5 wells and what logs we would run in those wells and why. I forgot about the paper until a week before it was due.

Luckily I remembered in time to make it to the library and get all of the graphs and well bore diagrams that I needed for the reservoir. Unfortunately, I remembered the wrong date and the paper was due the next day. Which my roommate told me the mourning it was due. I sat down and wrote the 10 page paper in about 5 hours and did all of my analysis as each section required it. Hauled ass over to the teacher’s office to turn it in 5 min before the deadline and used his stapler. On the way out I realized that I forgot to select where the wells would be located I had simply written up how I would log them.

I went back to the office and told the prof that I needed my paper back because I had forgotten a page. He gave me back the paper and I left his office and went down the hall and drew in the 5 wells on the reservoir map and hand wrote in the well numbers above the dots. I went back and turned the paper in 10 min late.

I ended up getting a 100% on the paper. I bought a cheap frame at Walmart and had that paper hang over my computer for the rest of college as inspiration. It was the second highest grade I ever got on a paper while in college.

I was in high school. It was my senior year, I had already gotten into university, and I was spending most of my time chasing boys or plotting my imminent flight from the country. (As you do.) I got sucked into taking an economics class that was for some ineffable reason taught by the “computers” teacher, who wouldn’t know an economics textbook if it jumped up and goosed him.

He assigned us all a country that we would have to research throughout the semester. One week he assigned us a paper on that particular country’s GDP. I was assigned Switzerland. I couldn’t be bothered to actually do the work for it, so I wrote an entire paper on the premise that A) Switzerland had a lot of secret bank accounts and did a lot of under-the-table money business, and consequently B) they did not release their GDP figures, therefore C) I could not hand in a paper on the GDP of Switzerland.

Not only did I get a perfect score, the idiot actually gave me bonus points. I got better than a 100% on that sucker. That I made up. Entirely.

At said music school, if you wanted a degree, you had to take what were called academic courses. These were things like English, History, History of Art – basically anything not music-related. It was an accreditation thing.

I was in my 4th year, and planning on finishing by December. Commencement wasn’t until May, but I’d be out in the real world earning money in the meantime. After I had signed up for all of my classes, I was told that I was two academic courses shy of being able to graduate. The counselor told me that it was OK, all I had to do was pick two classes and do a couple of assignments – with no studying, mind you – and I’d be good as gold.

The classes I chose were The Novels of Evelyn Waugh and Writing Record Reviews. If I wrote two record reviews and a book report from the Cliff’s Notes of a Waugh book, they’d give me my degree. Easy. Best of all, I had until May to do it.

In October? No problem, I have until May.

In November? No problem, I have until May.

In December? No problem, I have until May.

You can see where this is going, right?

I had an “Oh shit!” moment the day before commencement. I scribbled out the assignments in about an hour and ran them over to the counselling office.

The next day I was worried sick. I feared I would walk up onto the stage, shake hands with Leonard Feather, shake hands with Oscar Peterson, and then be told “Sorry, but you handed in your assignments too late. You don’t get to graduate.” In front of my father, mother, sister, and 1200 other people.

When I was in graduate school for set design, we had an assignment to build a model for some play. I don’t remember the show, but I do remember one of my fellow grad students didn’t finish making her all the stupid little chairs for the model.

We had a really quick bullshit discussion about how the mother wouldn’t even buy her daughters chairs as a symbol of how controlling she was.

She actually managed to pull it off.

My first story is a tale of straight-up cheating, sorry.

Organic chemistry lab was pure torture for me. If there’s a hell, it’s daily organic chemistry labs with Dr. Braga in the Boggs Building of Georgia Tech (I’m still waiting for someone to do a Columbine over there). We would have four hours to synthesize some white fluffy powder and submit it to the TA in a little vial for them to weigh and take the melting temp (which would attest to its purity). Without fail, I could never synthesize any crystals. I don’t know if it was the stress under pressure thing or the fact I have a hard time following directions, but I just could not hack it. After every lab I would cry for hours. It was the first time in my life I realized there was something I was really bad at, despite putting my in my best effort.

Well, one lab we had to create boric acid (or something else that started with a “b”). At the time, I was working as a research assistant in a biology lab. Guess what we had in our chemical cabinent? Research-grade boric acid. I took a little bit of it, mixed in a small amount of dust from my workbench so that it wouldn’t be suspiciously pure, and turned that sucker in. I got a A on the report. Yay.

Then there was the time, in the third grade, when I started to cry after the teacher had dismissed class because she had given us (IMHO) entirely too much homework. It was a lot of work and I actually was kind of stressed out because my family was in therapy at the time. But I milked those tears for all they were worth. Being the teacher’s pet, she took pity on me and lightened my work load substantially. On that day, I learned that being a crybaby has its advantages.

Back in the summer of 1955, I took a course in analytic geometry. It was pretty trivial stuff, graph conics, rotate and translate them to standard positions, deal with asymptotes. But he gave these long assignments. I discovered that if the first page looked at all reasonable, it didn’t matter what else you had. Old assignments, upside down, it didn’t matter; it all got As.

This girl I know had an assignment for a journalism class that required choosing a magazine article then contacting the author, interviewing them about the article and then writing up the interview and talking about it in class.

The girl freaked out at the prospect of contacting an author out of the blue (yeah, bad reaction for someone who is studying how to contact people out of the blue)…so she made up the entire interview with a Rolling Stone author, and got an A.

To this day, she is not very proud of what she did.

Stupid girl.

In my o-chem class we were graded on our percent yield. My percent yields generally sucked until I figured out that an easy way to inflate them was to simply start with, say, 50% more of all the initial ingredients. If I got more than one “hundred percent yield” for an assignment I just dumped some in the garbage.

My measures of purity (like melting point, boiling point, etc.) which were also tested and graded by the lab instructor still weren’t so hot, though.:stuck_out_tongue:

We’d get reading assignments over summer break during high school. I got payed to do a kids assignment once. All I did was find an essay online, make sure it was simple enough and printed it out for him. He never did complain but it was also before teachers were really checking for stuff like that.

In PE and later on a beginning tennis class (which I took for two years) our coach would make us run a couple of laps. He’d sit at his bench and wait for us to yell out the number of the lap we were on. So we’d run part of the first lap and hang out somewhere out of sight until the rest of the students were on their finish laps then we’d finish our first lap except yell out the number of our final lap (usually something like 4 or 5).

I can’t believe the things we did in that class. He was a nice guy too but students always seem to take advantage of and disrespect their teachers. So our tennis courts had those big green windbreaker things on the fences. After our laps and exercises, we were supposed to go play tennis. Instead, we’d go to the furthest court, sit by the big green windbreaker where the teacher couldn’t see us and smoke weed or drink. For two years, we got away with it. However, one time in the middle of the second year, one of the kids decided to light a piece of paper on fire. The wind blew the heavy black smoke right to the teacher and a few of them got caught and suspended. After a few weeks though, we were back at it.

I got really drunk one the last day of what I think was the 11th grade. And I mean really drunk. I was slurring, yelling and couldn’t walk a line or even stand still. I remember drinking but I don’t remember drinking that much though. Fortunately, I didn’t get in trouble. I’m not an angry drunk so that helped as well.

I was pretty tame in school. Now if you want to ask for stories of the things my friends did then you can get a WHOLE lot more.

I think I may have given my department chair weed once or twice. I have no idea if it affected my grade or my getting a scholarship.


As an undergrad, I basically slept through a Russian History class and then managed to miss the final because I was ill. I had to make up the exam, which I hadn’t studied for, in a class I hadn’t paid a whole lot of a attention in.

The closed-book, two-hour exam was one section of identification questions – a thing or person is listed, and you write about a paragraph on what it is and its importance – and one essay question. They put me in a room by myself with the exam. And my backpack. With my Russian History text book in it.

I spent about 10 minutes reviewing the ID questions and realizing I had no idea about most of them, before I pulled out the text book and, using the index, looked all the answers up and wrote the paragraphs. I really couldn’t cheat much on the essay, so I just bullshitted my way through it.

I passed, though with only I think a C+, which was not surprising because I was having a nervious breakdown during the whole test – I’m cheating! I have my book out! What if someone walks in to check on me?? But what I was amazed at was that I got a significantly higher grade on the essay, which I’d just BS’ed up, than I did on the ID’s, where I had literally looked the answers up before writing them down.

I never cheated again. I couldn’t take the stress of it.

You reminded me of a similar experience I had as a seventh-grader. I had been absent, and was sitting in the teachers’ lounge (back when such rooms’ air consisted mainly of cigarette smoke) making up a geography test I had missed. I knew most of the material (such as capitals of all European countries) before taking the class, so I hadn’t bothered to read the book too carefully (if at all).

Then a section on soils came up. I had no idea what terms to use, so I looked in the index just to find the names of some soils, then randomly wrote “brown forest soils” next to “Rhine Valley”, “chernozem soil” by “Russian taiga”, etc. I aced the remainder of the exam, and got lucky when the teacher simply wrote next to the soil section: “You were not here for these. I will not count this part.”

A lot of professors I’ve had give good grades on essays to people who can just write well.

I turned in one page worth of work on an assignment that was supposed to be five pages long. Ended up getting an A for it.

So true. Once I had a term paper that wasn’t budging past 11 or 12 pages when the professor wanted 20. (Turns out that my narrow topic plus my terse academic writing style don’t give me a lot. I may have been procrastinating, too.) On the evening before the due date, I asked my professor, hypothetically, whether it was worse to be eight pages short or to hand the paper in a day late (for -20% per day). He said he wasn’t really sure and that I’d have to make that call, in a voice that sounded like doom either way.

The next morning, I only turned in about 14 pages of content, but I must have gotten a low A based on the grade I got for the course. (I never had the nerve to go back and get the paper, because I was sick of looking at the thing, and afraid to see how horrendous it actually was after being cobbled together in two and a half stressful days.)

I had a web-based programming course in 1998, back in the early days of web-based courses. And at that point, this class required everyone to show up in person to take the final exam. This would have been the first time we did anything in person for this class.

Unfortunately, I had gotten pretty used to back-burnering this course. And that even applied to the final. I had also gotten used to doing the work for the class on my own schedule, and the fixed time for the exam didn’t register with me. In short, I completely forgot about it. I just didn’t show up.

I got a call from a classmate after I had missed the test, and the feeling of “Oh shit!” started to wash over me as I realized that I had missed a final exam! However, he revealed that they had technical difficulties that kept the test from being administered, so the professor said he’d just use our class average to that point. As it turns out, my failure to to show up for the test was of no consequence. And since the prof had never seen me before, he didn’t know I wasn’t there.

So, yeah, I didn’t really get away with anything, since the net result was the same. But I should have been taught a valuable lesson about responsibility, and instead I learned that everything will just work out in the end. =)

When I was a broadcaster in the Air Force, we had to take a typing test our first day of Tech School. I had passed about twenty words a minute on an electric typewriter, but this was one of those massive, manual anchors that looked like an unholy cross between a typewriter and a printing press. Not to mention, that all the keys had been blacked out. I failed the test horribly, and had to take remedial typing everyday after normal class was over.

After about the third day of trying to pass, I “warmed up” by writing the test passage that was on the board, just enough to pass, then took the paper out and said “I’m ready to try again!”

The teacher took out her stopwatch and I banged away like mad until she said “Times Up.” I took the paper out of the typewriter, and replaced it with the one I had typed up at the beginning of class.

Viola! I had passed typing at twenty two words a minute. Now I had more time to chase the Navy girls who were oh so hotter than the Air Force and Army girls running around.

I don’t recall cheating in college at all, aside from helping other people with their papers. But toward the end of high school… I was a walking attitude problem. I’d only needed American History and English to graduate but stupidly took a full course load anyway.

One of the courses was a class called Quest. It was basically a useless, pointless class about whatever the teacher felt like waxing poetic about. We talked about current events, economics, social psychology, teen angst, grown up life skills… He taught us how the stock market works, how to balance a checkbook… all kinds of crap. (Not that those particular skills were useless, but I simply can’t recall what the point of that class was supposed to be.) It was just like taking Study Hall only you actually got credit for a class (study halls did not count toward class rank and I was in the top 15, so I was trying to compete to end up in the top ten. Fail.)

So the final exam was a very simple assignment: Write one to three pages about anything you want. Tell a story, rant about your weekend, make up a poem, whatever. Really? I inquired… I can dash off a four line poem and turn that in and you’ll accept that as my final exam. Yep.

Hoo boy. Like I said, I had a full courseload with physics and calculus, journalism classes, high-end English classes, Psych, French… I worked part-time after school and was the editor of the school paper. I did not have time to be making up three pages of gobbledygook for a useless teacher who couldn’t be bothered to give us a substantial assignment designed to teach us something. I also knew he was this middle-aged, stodgy vanilla guy who had probably never heard of Depeche Mode in his life. (This was in the mid-80s and DM was a mostly new group at the time. I was the only kid in my high school who was into New Wave.)

I went home, dug out my Black Celebration cassette, and copied the lyrics from, IIRC, "Stripped."The worst that could happen, I figured, was he’d realize I’d turned in a “poem” that was nothing more than copied lyrics off some album… or he’d think I was one sick, suicidal teenager.

He didn’t report me to the guidance counselor and I not only got an A on the paper, I got an A in the class. Rather, Martin Gore from Depeche Mode got an A for the song he wrote. :smiley:

Back in the day, I was taking a COBOL programming course in college. Since I was already working in the field, I was about 5 steps ahead of the rest of the “kids” in the class. Mind you, I was fresh out of the USMC. I had also found the method of “dialing in” to the college’s mainframe computer at a blazing 1200 baud. After about the third assignment turned in, I had made the connection that the paper and printers that the college was using were exactly the same as what I had at work.

I was a night computer operator, and stayed well into the morning doing real work and class assignments. My latest assignment was really giving me a stomach ache in my head. I knew there was some kind of stupid syntax error, but I just couldn’t locate it.

“Screw it!”, says I. I dummied up a simple text file that had the header, body, and compile results, and sent it to the work printer. I turned it in the next day, and got my usual 100%. I knew the professor would never have the time to go through all of those lines of code for every student, and would simply rely on the compile results printed on the last page.