College students are faced with numerous ethical dilemmas. At a young age, college is the first opportunity that students have to live away from supervision. The dilemmas are endless, but can include plagiarism, casual sex, and drug use. Many students will not get caught up in these issues, but there are many that use poor judgment. For some, their upbringing could be a factor, but for others, it could just be peer pressure.
With the price of college expenses rising, studying is rarely the only thing on a student’s mind. In addition to piles of homework, stressful exams, and presentations, students are only required to hold part-time, or even full-time job. Meanwhile, college students must deal with the constant pressure of maintaining a social life and “fitting in.” Handling all of the different aspects of college life is a difficult task, and unfortunately, many students result to unethical solutions.
The Struggle to “Fit In”
For many students, it was a relief to graduate from the awkward encounter of high school, but many of the same issues recirculate in college. Under aged drinking is a major ethical dilemma for both high school and college students. The pressure to attend the parties, become intoxicated, and potentially partake in drug use is a major source of peer pressure.
For example, according to GSS data, nearly 3% of participates indicated that they had participated in illegal drug activity in 2004, up from 1.9% in 1991. (GSS) The pressure to “try” a drug is greater, and increasingly growing. In addition, over 80% of college students have consumed an alcoholic beverage within a two week period of time, and 40% of these students are considered binge drinkers. (Palmeri)
The pressure to participate in casual sex is a significant peer pressure factor, too. Shockingly, about 80% of college students have reported to have had sexual acts outside of a committed relationship. (Konnakova) It is now common for college students to consider casual sex social progress or a step up in popularity. As our college cultures have become increasingly liberal, with higher rates of frat parties, alcohol use, and violence, this is, perhaps, less shocking.
Keeping Up With the Workload
With all the pressure that college students are under to be socially accepted, there is not much time to actually keep up with their school work, at least for many students. There are now nearly 10% of college students that are using a form of plagiarism. Educational institutions continue to struggle with the problem and are constantly searching for ways to prevent it. With the increase in technology, cheating has become easier for college students to accomplish without getting caught. (Grasgreen) These issues have a greater impact on greater society as well as the school itself. The increased amount of students that are participating in cheating results in higher amounts of nonqualified workers in the workforce.
Additionally, the issue of drug use for academic has become an issue and a danger for students. Increased amounts of work and more procrastinating has led to prescription drug use to help students focus or stay awake.
Anxiety, Depression, and Addiction
The difficult landscape of the college campus results in several medical consequences for many students. The social pressure along with the academic stress can often result in anxiety, exam and academic anxiety, unknown anxiety issues, disorders, depression, and drug and alcohol addiction. This is a serious issue for our society. These issues can follow these students well beyond their college years. In fact, 75% of individuals that suffer from one of these issues, develop it before the age of 22. Additionally, 45% of women and 36% of men felt so depressed that it was difficult to function in everyday life. The sobering fact is that in the last fifteen years, depression cases have tripled and suicide rates have doubled. (Tartakovsky)
It is easy to “catch” depression, or another type of disorder in college. College students experience a lot of new changes when they enter a university. They are typically under a significant amount of pressure and are often caught up in competitions in both academic and social aspects. Loss of identity, or struggle to find their identity is also often a struggle for students, and can often lead to significant anxiety, depression, disorders, or excessive drug and alcohol use.
While all of these issues are important to the wellbeing of college students, their universities, and society as a whole, it is important to note that all of these issues can circle into plagiarism and academic dishonesty.
If universities were strictly about learning and preparing for a career, and eliminated the alcohol use, the drug use, the casual sex, and the social pressure, there would be no need to plagiarize. They would be no need to take prescription drugs to focus and stay awake. The focus would be on learning, and not all the issues about fitting in socially.
It is also possible that depression, anxiety, and disorders would be significantly reduced if there were no social distractions. Perhaps, if college was only about learning, there would be no other problems.
The issues may begin in childhood for many of these students. If children are not taught that cheating it wrong, or that breaking moral rules are wrong, they are likely to participate in the ethical issues that colleges face.